19th Sep2017

‘Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams 1×01: The Hood Maker’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


When the ads for Electric Dreams started to appear on television, the similarities with Black Mirror caught my attention straight away. Then it was revealed that the show was Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and that made it a must watch. Now the first episode, The Hood Maker has launched, does the show live up to the hype?

In a world without advanced technology, telepaths are used as a means of long distance communication. With fear of the mutant’s ability to read minds though, the public start to turn on them, wearing telepath-blocking hoods to protect themselves. Two detectives, Agent Ross (Richard Madden) and telepath Honor (Holliday Grainger) are brought in to investigate the masks more.

It didn’t take long for the show to have an effect on me, and that was to feel that it was a cross between Blade Runner and Life on Mars. This of course is down to the fact that Matthew Graham the writer of Life on Mars actually adapted this story.

The telepaths are interesting because of the way they view society. With the ability to know what people think, they can use it as a weapon, but it can also be misused by non-telepaths as a form of abuse. We see this in a brothel like setting where the “normal” people were pushing their negative thoughts onto the telepaths, as if they were purging the negativity from their souls.

What this scene and its repercussions does is to create an empathy for the telepaths. The ability to read mind brings a sharing of emotions that scars the telepath and they are the ones that have to deal with the pain, even if it is not theirs.

When they finally revolt against this, it does become hard to sympathise with their plight, especially in the aggressive way they do it. The fact that they have saturated civilisation with their numbers though show the power they possess. The conflict that Honor has about which side to take is the most interesting aspect of The Hood Maker, especially with the twist that is revealed at the end of the episode.

One of the problems I found with The Hood Maker is that the episode didn’t have much chance to breath, and to immerse the audience in the world it creates. It sometimes feels like the episode moved too fast, and could have done with being a feature-length episode instead. The Blade Runner like story is one that does have an impact, but it needs time to fully get that impact over with the audience.

In the UK, Holliday Grainger has also been in Strike which also aired on Sunday, and in both shows she has shown just how good an actor she is. In many ways, the weight of this episode is firmly on her shoulders, and her performance as Honor is important to making the episode work. Thankfully she is fully up to the job, and that is why this is such a good start to Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.

****½  4.5/5

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams airs in the UK on Channel 4, 9pm on Sundays.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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