Sunday, June 17, 2018
  • The Feed
  • What you're talking about today

Review: The future isn’t so bleak in Philip K. Dick’s ‘Electric Dreams’

Electric Dreams is more science fantasy than science future. And it might make you reconsider humanity's bleak future.

Don't worry, the new Amazon series still has enough dystopian paranoia to keep you worrying about where technology will take us next.

Winter TV: 4 new sci-fi shows that aren't about superheroes  

In partnership with Britain's Channel 4 and Sony Pictures Television, Amazon for the first time brings to the small screen a collection of Philip K. Dick's short stories. Dick, a pioneer in the science fiction and fantasy world, is the mind behind Blade Runner (based on the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) and The Man in the High Castle (the 1962 novel also made into an Amazon series).

Though much of Dick's work is decades old (he died in 1982), the themes in his stories are endlessly adaptable to our own time: the humane limits of technology, free will and what it means to be human.

Electric Dreams will inevitably be compared to series that came before it, whether for its themes (Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone) or its anthology style (American Horror Story, Fargo). But Electric Dreams brings a little something fresh to the popular style of television storytelling: a different story, characters and creative team for each episode.

The first episode will certainly have viewers drawing comparisons to Black Mirror with stars Anna Paquin and Terrence Howard probing the limits of virtual reality. Another, "Autofac," sees a desolate future where society has collapsed, yet an automatic product producing factory is still cranking out products for consumers who are no longer around — and covering the unstable world with more pollutants. Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures, Moonlight) plays a scary good android in this one.

Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston and Essie Davis (The Babadook) star in "Human Is," where Davis's character is forced to choose between living with an emotionally abusive husband or one who was made kind and loving by a parasitic alien life form.

And you'll definitely want to tune in for "The Hood Maker," starring Game of Thrones' Richard Madden. It's one devoid of futuristic technology, save for a race of mutant telepaths who become the world's only means of long-distance communication.

What anthology series need to succeed (and what American Horror Story often struggles with) is a balance between quick world-building without losing focus and character development without feeling like there's too much room to grow.

Electric Dreams strikes the balance deftly, creating short, self-contained films out of each episode without making you feel like you need 45 more minutes to grasp the story.

What will keep you tuned in for more is the compassion you'll feel toward some of the characters in Electric Dreams. With the exception of the Emmy Award-winning episode "San Junipero," Black Mirror is all about torturing its characters for our voyeuristic glee. Happy endings are rare.

But in Electric Dreams there's a sense of a "light at the end of the tunnel" for most of the episodes. There's a bit of unpredictability not seen in other dystopian series that won't make you question every piece of tech in your home. And sometimes, in the war of us vs. technology, humanity actually wins.

Contact Chelsea Tatham at [email protected] Follow @chelseatatham.

MORE

Review: New season of The X-Files is both classic and relevant in the fake news era

Winter TV: Roseanne, The Chi, Electric Dreams and more new shows to check out

Golden Globes: Here's what Oscar voters are looking for next

Comments
WATCH: New live-action Dumbo trailer

WATCH: New live-action Dumbo trailer

Disney dropped the a new trailer for Tim Burton’s dark live-action Dumbo reboot Tuesday. The short trailer features a gloomy take on the song “Baby Mine” and already has fans ready to reach for the tissues. one day Disney will re...
Published: 06/14/18
’Florida Man: Poems’ is non-fiction poetry inspired by the viral Florida phenomenon

’Florida Man: Poems’ is non-fiction poetry inspired by the viral Florida phenomenon

Tyler Gillespie describes himself in his Twitter bio as a “pale Floridian + reporter,” but says he’s not a “Florida Man,” capital F, capital M.“No, I think ‘Florida Man’ means someone publicly shamed an...
Published: 06/07/18
Ax throwing trend arrives in St. Pete via Ferg’s Sports Bar

Ax throwing trend arrives in St. Pete via Ferg’s Sports Bar

Gone are the days when St. Petersburg residents must travel across Tampa Bay to visit one of Tampa’s two ax throwing establishments. Soon you’ll be able to hurl axes toward a wooden target at Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill, which so...
Published: 06/07/18
Lutz teen a finalist in Google's doodle contest

Lutz teen a finalist in Google's doodle contest

His artwork was selected from more than 100,000 entrants.
Published: 06/07/18
Live ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ with Joel Hodgson, Jonah Ray coming to Orlando

Live ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ with Joel Hodgson, Jonah Ray coming to Orlando

In the not too distant future — October, to be precise — you'll be able to experience Mystery Science Theater 3000 in Florida.The cult comedy series, which ran throughout the '90s on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel and was revived b...
Published: 06/04/18
‘Sherlock’ star raced to save a man from attackers, Uber driver says

‘Sherlock’ star raced to save a man from attackers, Uber driver says

Consider this: You're in a group of muggers in London, trying to steal a delivery man's bike, and Sherlock Holmes comes barreling at you.What do you do? Ask for an autograph? Run?Four would-be thieves chose Option 2, fleeing after actor Benedict Cumb...
Published: 06/03/18
Bill Clinton, James Patterson talk to young readers about their thriller ‘The President Is Missing’

Bill Clinton, James Patterson talk to young readers about their thriller ‘The President Is Missing’

When former President Bill Clinton and bestselling author James Patterson appeared on stage in New York to promote their new book, the moderator asked if its title — The President Is Missing — was wishful thinking.Patterson laughed. "The ...
Published: 06/03/18
Does a Milli Vanilli song define your life? Find out now.

Does a Milli Vanilli song define your life? Find out now.

On May 29, Twitter user @swank0cean tweeted, "I've just read that apparently the song that was number 1 on your 14th birthday defines your life."I’ve just read that apparently the song that was number 1 on your 14th birthday defines your life &...
Updated one month ago
See the documentary Starbucks showed workers at racial bias training

See the documentary Starbucks showed workers at racial bias training

When Starbucks closed to train employees on issues related to racial bias, the employees were shown this video by Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson.
Updated one month ago
There’s a new ‘Bachelorette’ contestant from St. Petersburg

There’s a new ‘Bachelorette’ contestant from St. Petersburg

When ABC’s reality dating competition The Bachelorette returns next week, the pool of 28 contestants vying for love and roses from Becca Kufrin will include a fitness trainer who lives in St. Petersburg. Here’s what we know about 25-year...
Updated one month ago