The Hood Maker
Kill All Others
Safe & Sound
After Channel 4 lost the rights to Black Mirror at the hands of Netflix, there’s been a sci-fi anthology sized hole missing to fill the gap. Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, with stories based on the works of the writer by the same name, is an interesting but sadly flawed anthology that never reaches the lofty heights it so easily could have achieved. The plots showcased here are intriguing but the execution lacks the finesse needed to pull off the feat of adapting the works of the great writer Philip Dick.
As with any anthology, there’s a range of different stories showcased here, from virtual reality depicting an entirely new life, space voyages that take a turn for the worst and more. Unlike Black Mirror, the material is far more challenging; there’s a lot open to interpretation from the abrupt endings that finish a little too prematurely but do incite some thought provocative questions. Considering the variety of stories shown here, each plot follows a pretty similar arc. The familiar for the main character turns into the unfamiliar before a climactic charge for the finale that ends with unanswered questions to incite discussion about what’s just been shown. Unfortunately, the execution is clumsy in a lot of the episodes and even the star power can’t hide the inconsistency with the plots.
Timothy Spall, Steve Buscemi, Bryan Cranston and more all boast appearances in the show and their presence certainly gives the episodes they star in a boost. If there’s one thing that Electric Dreams excels at, it’s the acting. There’s some really good performances here and the inclusion of some of these Hollywood stars helps the rest of the cast step up their game.. The script writing for the characters varies too, with a distinct lack of characterisation given to some of the main characters. Interestingly, some of the best episodes shown here occur late on, with one episode in particular, Real Life, the best of the bunch.
Technically, the show does feel cheap at times. With a lot of dark, poorly lit locales and a lack of establishing or aerial shots for the areas, Electric Dreams relies heavily on its plot and performances from its actors with the camera remaining firmly on the ground. With an average first few episodes, I can’t help but feel the show would have benefited from changing the episode run to keep interest high with a big episode to start the show. Much like other anthologies, there’s some good episodes and some bad but the sporadic quality of each episode varies from poor all the way to great making this a difficult one to review.
Whilst it’s certainly no Black Mirror, Electric Dreams does go some way to fill the sci-fi void until the next season arrives. The episodes are well acted and the plot lines intriguing but the way they’ve been adapted ultimately causes this anthology show to stumble. Its worth persevering with but the way each episode abruptly ends is jarring and at times irritating but there’s enough thought provocative ideas to incite discussions about what’s been shown. The star power helps too but the varying quality of each episode holds the show back from being a truly great showcase of Philip K. Dick’s stories.