Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams: The Hood Maker
September 17, 2017 2:45 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

In a world without advanced technology, mutant telepaths have become humanity's only mechanism for long distance communication. But their powers have unintended implications.

Electric Dreams is Channel 4's new sci-fi anthology series (now that Black Mirror moved to Netflix) based on PKD's short stories.
posted by lmfsilva (19 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
While I don't want to get in the way of proper comments, I'd like to mention that I do have a problem with this - it reads so strongly as Channel 4 having a hissy fit after Black Mirror not only refused to stay cancelled but went from strength to strength, that of course they needed something of their own. So at this point, it just reeks of Channel 4's vanity (or to give the channel its full name, "Channel 4, it used to be good, really it did").

Obviously I hope I'm wrong, because a world with more cool things in is a better world.

I return you to the thread of more considered opinions.
posted by Grangousier at 5:18 AM on September 18, 2017

Well, I thought this was very good. I hadn't read the short story, so I was completely surprised at the end. Both the leads were very good, as they needed to be.

I'm trying to understand what he thought would happen when he offers to let her read him.

This is neither here nor there, but with this character and actor, I think I just realized I must have a thing for redheads... because when I consider the times in the last number of years I've been self-consciously (as in, it's distracting) attracted to someone on the screen, they're all redheads. Seriously, I never thought that was a thing, but it seems like it is. Strange to discover this about oneself deep into middle-age.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:37 AM on September 18, 2017

It managed to match the cinematographic quality and some of the existencial bleakness of BM, as well as the quality of acting, so I don't expect anyone complaining much about it being some sort of BM rebound.

I'm trying to understand what he thought would happen when he offers to let her read him.
Well, it was either that or going up in flames, so letting her read him and hope for forgiveness was a all-or-nothing play because at best, she'd let him escape, while at worst he dies anyway.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:09 AM on September 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

No, earlier in his apartment...
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:31 AM on September 18, 2017

I think maybe he had some other stored memories, like the fishing trip "firewall" that she read when he was asleep, and maybe he would have shown her some of those.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 10:41 AM on September 18, 2017

Maybe he thought he'd be capable of deflecting his thoughts (the difference of what we saw early in the police station and later by the end of the episode) without arising any suspicion from her? Perhaps mind-reading is something like a polygraph: it can't tell a lie if the persons being read believes in the lie, and she wouldn't peek too deep anyway.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:42 AM on September 18, 2017

I haven't seen this yet, but I'm kind of super-excited as I didn't even know it was coming. I checked some of the casting on wikipedia and there's a lot of good actors in upcoming episodes who I shan't mention because spoilers.
posted by Sparx at 4:13 PM on September 18, 2017

I thought the acting and production was pretty good in this, but some of the dialogue was wanting - "you can read my mind... now read my heart!" was truly one for the ages. I suppose that's true to PKD's style, though. Overall it was a promising start.
posted by whir at 12:19 AM on September 19, 2017

Despite a smidge of somewhat hokey dialog (re: readin' them hearts), I still hold that this was handily better than all of BM S03. Looking forward to the rest of the season!
posted by FatherDagon at 7:56 PM on September 20, 2017

I, too, was unaware this existed until I saw the Fanfare post. I am pleasantly surprised and am totally looking forward to the rest of the series.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:23 AM on September 23, 2017

I still hold that this was handily better than all of BM S03.

I was going to argue against this, but other than MeowMeowBeenz and San Junipero, I only recall bits from episodes from my own snarky comments.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:40 PM on September 23, 2017

I'll have to watch it again, but I though this was kind of all over the place. Police weapons, the internal life of Precogs...all the parts are right up my alley, but the focus shifted quite a bit over the course of the episode and I was left wanting. I'm sure I'm comparing it to Black Mirror, but at least for this episode BM is written much, much tighter.
posted by rhizome at 11:05 AM on September 25, 2017

There was a tiny bit of dialogue toward the end that really soured me on the episode's world: a line of Cutter's about "the old world," the web and firewalls. It was so much richer as a parallel late 70s Malaise Era dystopia.
posted by MarchHare at 5:16 AM on September 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

"In the old world, I remember how we fretted over the computers, the Web. The information on everyone and everything. We built firewalls and encrypted our lives. I always thought it was an overreaction. There was a plug. Pull it out. Poof."

MarchHare, I agree, that felt so very unnecessary. I was laughing to myself about how heavily dystopian-retro this world felt (which was a pretty stark contrast to the future sci-fi of the intro), and then *poof* it's a time loop, where something happened in the past that sent us baaack tooo theee seventieees! But, you know, future seventies, with the hood maker's weird technology.

I felt like they had to make it relevant to the present-day viewers with some modern terminology, but it felt like a late-production hack edit, when someone in management said "but why should we care about this dusty old world? How is this relevant?"

Otherwise, I'm sold. Then again, I haven't watched much Black Mirror, or any other proper modern sci-fi stories, so I ate it up. It felt like a fun mix between sci-fi and Comrade Detective, which is supposed to be set in the 1980s, in Romania, where the grimy urban setting is more expected.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:19 AM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

It was immediately a much harder world to believe in, because so much of that world - the typewriters, the haberdashery, the cars, show a world where these things were being developed over time and not put back into production based on old plans, because even if you'd lost all your IT you still wouldn't deliberately build a car as unreliable as an XJ6 or as bad in a crash as a Mk4 Cortina or a brown 1974 Mk1 Ford Granada. I mean, not unless it was a matter of deliberate observance, like you'd lost all your records and had rebuilt your society from the ground up, Book of Dave-style, using old tapes of The Sweeney as your holy text. I think my wife found the episode slightly less immersive than I - sitting next to someone who says, "I used to have that exact car in that exact brown! I miss my Granada so much,' can take you out of the moment somewhat.
posted by MarchHare at 3:02 PM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I’m very late to this party, but that’s because this show only just came to this American’s Amazon Video. I didn’t even know it was a Channel Four show—I thought it was an Amazon original, until just now.

Watching the episode, it seemed well done but not very Dickian at all. I was sure I had read the short story back in the day, but I had to look up a synopsis to remind myself of it, and sure enough the episode as filmed is almost the opposite of the story upon which it was based. Briefly, in the story the teeps are an oppressive overclass rather than an oppressed underclass; the general populace doesn’t hate the teeps but rather the hood wearers, because they must have something to hide; and the twist at the end is not that regular humans are developing mind blocks but rather that the teeps are sterile and will die out on their own. Those three plot points were characteristic of PKD’s unique sensibility, and they were all removed to make a more generic and broadly acceptable episode of television.

I’ll watch more episodes, but if the others are similarly sanitized of PKD-ness I shall be very cross.

Otherwise, I greatly enjoyed the two leads, I dug the visualization of telepathy and the teep hive mind, the scene where Honor had to wade through the river of Ross’s mind block was great, and I thought the ambiguous ending was better than showing either alternative (she opens the door or not). I also really liked the low-tech 70s world (I read an explanation involving a meteor strike that destroyed high tech and created the teeps, a bit of backstory I’m glad was excluded from the episode). The bit where they pause the filmstrip too long on the scientist’s face and it melts was awesome.
posted by ejs at 4:33 PM on January 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

i love a good ambiguous ending. that was great!

I've never read any PKD, so this is all fresh, but the tropes are there. I did enjoy this though, it was well acted and well written. Except for that one line about internet in the old world, as said above, which didn't explain why most of their technology is still old school.

"you can read my mind... now read my heart!"

It was "You can read minds, but you can't read my heart.", as a desperate plea for her to open the door. That slight change made it less cheesy.
posted by numaner at 1:34 PM on January 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I didn’t really get that. I mean if he did really love her, she would have gone in his mind and seen his change of heart right?
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:17 PM on January 18, 2018

Well, it was interesting to see the telepaths as an oppressed underclass and the episode develops their hive mind in an interesting way, dealing with the empathic complications of their telepathy (although it doesn't explain how Honor can protect her thoughts from other telepaths but at times the telepaths can't not hear each other's thoughts). On the other hand, the way privacy is treated felt more contemporary in the 1955 version, in which the majority feel it is natural to give up privacy despite a growing unease about it. In this episode, basically every one hates the teeps and is a committed privacy advocate. OK... What is the point of this episode then? A star-crossed love story in an intriguing setting? Also, the Freudian reading of the protester's motivations in the beginning was seriously groan-inducing. It is such lazy writing to present anyone who opposes the status quo as working through messed up mommy or daddy issues. And the very beginning, when Honor is screening the protesters (not very discretely): young white man (just in it for fun, don't worry about him), young white woman (she's just there because of her boyfriend, don't worry about her), middle-age woman of color (DANGER!!! DANGER!!! Start a file on her right away).
posted by nequalsone at 7:10 AM on May 17, 2018

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