Thursday, January 18, 2018

Pilot Reviews: Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (Amazon)
Premiered January 12

There have been a lot of anthology series premiering lately, and I knew this was one I was particularly looking forward to. There’s a reason that the writer’s name is in the title, and that’s because Philip K. Dick was a master of dystopian science fiction. His works have been adapted into movies like “Minority Report,” “Impostor,” “A Scanner Darkly,” “Total Recall,” and “Blade Runner.” The notion of taking his short stories and putting them on screen in a shortened format – an hour apiece – is brilliant. That does make judging its quality and execution difficult since each episode is so different, and we’ll never again see the characters featured in what technically constitutes the pilot but really doesn’t represent the series. Fortunately, this somewhat dense and very British – which makes sense given that this is a Channel 4 production that aired in the UK originally back in October – start is a positive and intriguing one. I started with the hour that launched the UK run – “The Hood Maker” – even though that’s technically classified as episode five by Amazon. It was good to see recognizable faces like Richard Madden from “Game of Thrones” and Holliday Grainger from “Cinderella,” and the plot was definitely involving, with a pretty memorable ending. I’m not sure how well each episode will come off, but I do think that this is a cool idea and one that’s worthy of viewing on a regular basis so long as it continues to demonstrate its commitment to realizing Dick’s writing in a visually astounding and thought-provoking way.

How will it work as a series? I’m not sure how important the order is meant to be since Channel 4 and Amazon have released the series totally differently, but I think it’s about whether they all connect in some way and do a good job of representing Dick’s dark visions and utilizing good talent all around to do so, which I think will be the case.
How long will it last? The show seems to have been relatively well-received, earning decent if not spectacular reviews in the United States. Releasing it on Amazon seems like a superb plan since it doesn’t need to binge-watched in the same way and might be easy for viewers to tune into at any point. I don’t know how much more material there is out there, but I could see this coming back if Amazon wanted it to.

Pilot grade: B+

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