Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams: Human Is
October 30, 2017 8:52 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Vera is overjoyed when her husband returns from a dangerous mission, but is he the same man?
posted by lmfsilva (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Louisa Mellor in her Den of Geek review/recap wishes the show featured some of the "weirder excesses" of PKD instead of focusing on the serious stories, making the series "starting to feel like something of a slog". Not knowing much of PKD, I think this was an interesting story and question, and well acted. I found a good comparison of the original story vs this episode, but it sounds like a closer match (Wikipedia stub with a brief summary at the moment) than prior adaptations, and one tweet captured in the "split reactions" showcased in Digital Spy's Twitter roundup said "Felt it lost a bit of the impact of the original story but pulled it back a bit at the end."

Also, I hate to mentally type-cast Bryan Cranston, but this felt like seeing two sides of Walter White.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:58 AM on October 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

My familiarity with PKD is also mostly from osmosis and second hand smoke, but it's a very fair criticism of the show so far. I love the art direction that went with it (all very reminiscent of 60s-to-80s sci fi), overall it's well written and acted, but bloody hell, most of the stories are as dry as the desert.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:44 PM on October 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'm enjoying the art direction more than the stories, I guess? The stories all feel sort of like plots we've been subsequently exposed to, so I dunno if they were ever supposed to be revelatory or just, y'know, good pulpy 50's-60's sci-fi.
posted by Kyol at 9:35 AM on November 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't think you can make more-or-less straight adaptations of PKD stories without expecting the the kids and teens that read them in the 60s and 70s already made their stories inspired by them. I mean, Human Is was published in 1955. Bryan Cranston wasn't even born.
posted by lmfsilva at 5:20 PM on November 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

oh this was such a well acted episode. Essie Davis should win all the awards. She was the main character in Babadook but she looks so different I had no idea it was the same actress.

I've never read PKD, but from what I've gathered his stories were the frontiers of modern scifi, so if these plots seem like they're not original, that's because we've all been exposed adaptations and derivations of his stories.

It's like that Wonderwall cover that played during the credits of the episode. You know the notes, you can sing the lyrics, but it's been done. And yet, you know the original was just life-changing when you first heard it.
posted by numaner at 9:30 PM on January 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Dick's stories of this time were often kind of goofy and not very plausible and definitely very rooted in the 1950s so I wish that these shows had more of that feeling. I wish that they'd brought more of a silly pulpy aesthetic to the art direction of these rather than the bland modernism that they have.
posted by octothorpe at 6:52 AM on January 15, 2018

Here's the issue of Startling Stories that Human Is was published in and here's Ed Emsh's illustration for the story itself.
posted by octothorpe at 6:57 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

This was the only one of the first three episodes (as presented on Amazon) that had a strong 1950s feel for me.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:01 PM on February 18, 2018

I liked this a lot. I think updating the setting while keeping the underlying gender dynamic was VERY interesting and very effective. In the original story, "Vera" is a housewife, if I recall, whose husband is (a bit?) rubbish, and the conclusion is that she will have a nice Leave it to Beaver life with her new alien husband. Also, in the original the Rexorian civilization is on the verge of collapse, while Earth civilization seems fine (if you're into the 1950s thing). In the remake, while the gender dynamic between Vera and Silas is familiar, Vera is a "Level 1" government official who is directly involved in making decisions that determine the fate of the remaining bit of humanity (though we see she is outmaneuvered, probably regularly, by Stannis and the Onion Knight). While the decision of the original "Vera" to embrace her new husband is not nothing in terms of her choosing to affirm her entitlement to decency over species loyalty, the new Vera's decision is a conspiracy at the highest level of government that promises remake human society. It is human civilization that has reached the end of the road and Vera and the "Silas" who are set to blaze a new path—as equals.
posted by nequalsone at 7:45 AM on May 15, 2018

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