Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams: The series that will let you go beyond Black Mirror

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Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is one of the most discussed series on these days. Conceived and produced by Ronald D. Moore and Michael Dinner, the TV show is composed by ten completely different episodes, made of in dystopian and fiction worlds that many will reconnect to another popular series of our times, Black Mirror. Each story has been adapted by British and American authors and directed by names like Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), Matthew Graham (Doctor Who), Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim) and many others. The topics addressed are about the mechanisms of today’s society and the considerations on human nature, all going to one single question: how far will we go?

Electric Dreams is pure science fiction, where we find different human situations and complex relationships between individuals, which often lead us to doubt about what is actually real. A strong satire that goes from the social manipulation to the simulation of reality, up to the comparison between human beings and machines. All made in a purely cinematic way, as it is right to do with sci-fi literary works written by the great authors of the genre: the objective of the vision is not to frighten or provoke skepticism towards the future, but to observe how the extreme future can be, to think about the concepts of relativism and, why not, to accept the inevitable conclusions. A step forward that, if we resume the comparison with Black Mirror, was made also by the fourth season of Charlie Brooker’s series, and that was what disappointed many: that shock that many were used to in the first seasons, now was kind of missing. In this sense, Philip K. Dick can help to appreciate Black Mirror‘s evolution: more cinematic vision, less hidden fears; more director’s hand, less threatening reality; more sci-fi (so philosophy), less messages of social pessimism.

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The works of Philip K. Dick did not have great luck while he was alive, but he becomes a world-famous writer following the success of Blade Runner, film adaptation of his book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. In addition to that, many other films and TV series have been drawn from his writings (the complete list is here). This anthology series, based on some of his tales, transfigures on screen his way to bring society and politics to the extreme, and that’s why his Electric Dreams attracts us so much. The narration is simple and visually pleasing, enriched by an outstanding cast including Steve Buscemi, Bryan Cranston, Essie Davis, Juno Temple, Janelle Monae, Anna Paquin, Vera Farmiga e Richard Madden.

Here you can find a brief indication of what awaits you in each episode. If you prefer to approach the series without any anticipation, we suggest you to skip it:

1. Real life: The episode is a consideration on how virtual reality offers a loophole from real life, from which you want to escape, in order to not face the pain.

2. Autofac: Here we are in a post-apocalyptic world, destroyed by a nuclear war, where a group of survivors seeks to fight automated machines and delivery drones.

3. Human Is: The protagonist of this episode is Bryan Cranston in the role of a military officer who inexplicably changes personality as a result of an attack by alien life forms.

4. Crazy Diamonds: It is perhaps the most controversial episode of this first season, in which we see Steve Buscemi and Sidse Babett Knudsen in a world where genetic manipulation is a very advanced tool.

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5. The Hood Maker: Richard Madden is a policeman who lives in a world full of so-called “telepaths”, people who can read the others’ mind, discriminated by society.

6. Safe & Sound: Based on the story of Philip K. Dick “Foster, you’re Dead”, it is an episode of political interest that criticizes a consumeristic society, where there is a constant paranoia for terrorist attacks. A feeling of anxiety will accompany the viewers for the whole episode.

7. Father Thing: Charlie is a child who realizes that humans are going to be replaced by monsters, and his father already did.

8. The Impossible Planet: Two interstellar agents accompanying an elderly lady on a space trip to the imaginary planet Earth.

9. The Commuter: An employee of a station, with increasing anguish, realizes that many people get on the train to stop in a city that should not exist.

10. Kill All Others: There is only one political candidate in a dystopian society and there is no opposition party. Somebody is trying to question the current system.

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