02nd Mar2018

‘Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams 1×07: The Father Thing’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


Being a child sucks, especially during puberty. To face the possible divorce of your parents too is something that just makes matters worse, but what if on top of that aliens are replacing people, including your father? That is the subject of this episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.

When Charlie Cotrell (Jack Gore) witnesses his father (Greg Kinnear) being taken over by an alien, he decides to protect his mother and the world from the alien invasion. With more and more of the people around him becoming aliens too though, how long before they take over him too?

On face level The Father Thing is a version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but based in a kid’s world. People who are fans of the Faculty will feel right at home with this episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, sometimes a little too much. That is the thing about body snatching movies though, they tend to be very similar. What The Father Thing does is take a much more cerebral and metaphorical look to the change that is taking place. Where Invasion of the Body Snatchers is about the fear of Russians invading America and taking over society, at a child’s level it is all about change.

The first change we are introduced to is Charlie’s mother and father discussing what appears to be their splitting up. To any family this is a destructive event, but to a child it can be world destroying. It is no coincidence then that the alien invasion starts at this point in Charlie’s life, and affects him personally in a big way. To a child, the splitting up of their parents is the Cold War but on a personal level.

Add to that, Charlie is a teenager going through puberty. This is an emotional and physical upheaval that changes a child’s life forever. It is the starting of becoming an adult and finding a place in society. We see this in the way that Charlie and his friends rebel against the society around them, fighting back against the ‘aliens’ that are taking over society.

The aliens of course on a metaphorical level are the adults, Charlie is realising that his world is changing and that so are the people around him. He is losing everything that he loves about childhood and entering a new world of adulthood. What else does he have but the ability to rebel and to be himself? Which of course is the very nature of becoming an adult and finding your place in the world.

What we have with this episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is a good version of an Invasion of the Body Snatchers story, and one that could very easily be taken at face value if you wanted it to be. Looking past the surface allows us to see a much deeper story for Charlie and his family, and that is what has made Electric Dreams so good as a show. These are stories that are much deeper and more relateable, even when they show us such fantastical events.

Leaving the story wide open, The Father Thing leaves us wondering what Charlie’s life will be. It also leaves us pondering the meaning behind what we have seen meaning that it is another good episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and one that hasn’t let the quality of the series down.

***** 5/5

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams airs in the UK on Channel 4, 10pm on Mondays.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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