Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams: The Father Thing
January 19, 2018 8:33 AM - Season 1, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Eleven-year-old Charlie has a close relationship with his father, sharing a love of baseball. One night, while camping out, they see glowing orbs slowly falling from the sky, which the radio news reports are meteoroids. After a day at home, things get strange.

The current IMDb summary gives away some of the plot, so I'll link to the IDMb episode page and leave it at that. Based on the short story of a similar name, The Father-Thing (PKD Review Wordpress site, with a good story summary).

Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams Recap: Daddy Issues by Film Crit Hulk for Vulture
On the surface, “Father Thing” seems headed for a somewhat Disney-esque father-son story, but then takes a quick turn toward the pulp and pomp of an Amblin-lite adventure wherein a young boy named Charlie (Jack Gore) thinks his dad (Greg Kinnear!) might be an alien. It’s a story you’ve seen before, and there’s sadly not much more to it.
posted by filthy light thief (13 comments total)
 
Even though Wikipedia currently lists this as episode 10, it's episode 7 on Amazon, which seems to be the standard episode number reference for reviews, like the above linked Vulture review.

On the episode itself, I'm not sure why this story was picked for an episode. I agree with Film Crit Hulk that this was not a complicated episode, but more of stock standard sci-fi, and as noted on the (currently) very short Wikipedia article on the short story, a common theme of the era. "Works like Who Goes There? and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, especially popular in the 1950s, expressed the fear that people are not what they seem to be."
posted by filthy light thief at 8:38 AM on January 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


The story creeped me out FOR YEARS
posted by bq at 8:41 AM on January 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Good news, the episode still suitably carries that creepy factor.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:51 AM on January 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


Even though Wikipedia currently lists this as episode 10, it's episode 7 on Amazon, which seems to be the standard episode number reference for reviews, like the above linked Vulture review.

I don't know about the airdate order in the UK for the final four episodes, but the original UK airdates line up with the wikipedia entry and the streaming service that it's on in Australia. Looks like only Amazon has a different order. Why must you always be different, America?
posted by crossoverman at 2:31 PM on January 19, 2018


It’s called American Exceptionalism
posted by bq at 3:46 AM on January 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


From Talk Soup to Auto Focus, I've always thought highly of Kinnear, and he does not disappoint in this episode. It was very creepy, and straight-up disturbing in a couple of scenes. I thought it was an excellent thematic counterpoint to the Cranston episode.

I would have loved it if they had left off the trendy hashtag thing at the end though, wow. That added nothing of value.
posted by heatvision at 4:49 AM on January 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I know that PKDs stories have been done and redone countless times, but I really don't think adapting another body-snatchers thingy was the best move, even if the episode was ok.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:28 AM on January 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


crossoverman: Looks like only Amazon has a different order

IMDb also agrees with all other references (excluding Amazin), so I'll ask a mod to re-number it to Episode 10.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:54 AM on January 22, 2018


[Okay, changed it to "episode 10"]
posted by taz at 6:56 AM on January 22, 2018


this almost felt like a backdoor pilot. little suburban kids teaming up to take down a thing is all the rage these days, right?

it was still pretty good on its on though. not necessarily thought provoking but fun and entertaining.
posted by numaner at 8:34 PM on January 28, 2018


Okay, the weird thing about Amazon for this US viewer is that even though the episodes are numbered differently from the Channel 4 order, the auto play has been serving the episodes up to me in the Channel 4 order. So I did start with “The Hood Maker” and end with “The Father-Thing,” even though Amazon’s order looks preferable.

Anyway, I thought this was a poor episode with which to end the season. As said above, it’s one of the least thought-provoking outings, and it feels like a retread of better episodes (“Human Is” mainly, with a dollop of “Autofac’s” “seeing your own replacement in a pod”). Greg Kinnear was good, Mireille Enos seemed to be reviving her “dauntless mom with not much to do” character from World War Z, and the kid who played the older Peretti brother was shockingly not up to the task considering how good the acting has been throughout the series.

My two favorite parts: 1. When the Father-Thing confesses that the conundrum that has been perplexing him is why first base is not also a hot corner. 2. When the Father-Thing steps into the garage and all the Home Alone-style traps the kids had set up miss by a mile. Of course they would!

Over all, the show has been hit-or-miss for me, unlike Black Mirror, which feels like must-see viewing even when the episodes are weaker. I hope there’s a season 2 that gets to keep both the high production values and star power, but with more focused writing. Maybe instead of expanding Dick’s ten page short stories into 50 minute episodes, they should try compressing some of his novels—I’d love to see a briskly-plotted take on Ubik Or We Can Build You, for instance.
posted by ejs at 8:15 PM on January 31, 2018


Maybe instead of expanding Dick’s ten page short stories into 50 minute episodes, they should try compressing some of his novels—I’d love to see a briskly-plotted take on Ubik Or We Can Build You, for instance.

I wouldn't be surprised if his novels were already all optioned out and his short stories were all that's left to do something by PKD.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:12 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


This was a slight story that still managed to lose something in the retelling. As mentioned above, the pacing really suffered from the adaptation. When reading the story, you are not exactly sure how to interpret what happened, if the boy really saw what he thought he saw, which gives a little more mystery and suspense to the story. Things are revealed quickly and then it's done. But in the TV version, you see it "with your own eyes" and quite early on, so there is little mystery or suspense. Why not just show little clues that his father changed and make the boy wonder, at least for a while? If they were going to slow the pace, they should have put more effort into making it creepy and scary.

It is interesting that this is the second episode where the alien husband is more acceptable to the human wife than the human husband.
posted by nequalsone at 8:04 AM on May 22, 2018


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