Amazon explores the sweet mystery of life with ‘Electric Dreams’

Before we were transported to high-tech dystopia with Black Mirror, twisted sci-fi and fantasy anthologies thrived in the world of short fiction. 

In 2017, Channel 4 (the erstwhile home of Black Mirror) adapted 10 short stories by Philip K. Dick into the anthology series Electric Dreams, a beautiful portrait of worlds beyond our own with a thrumming thread of humanity.

Now available on Amazon Prime, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams presents 10 episodes – 10 fully-realized worlds which depart in different measures from our own reality, but all of which center around the concept of dreams. What do our dreams say about who we are? Can anything live up to our dreams? What do we make of a dream that feels more real than life itself?

That’s what gives Electric Dreams an edge and separates it from the de facto comparison to Black Mirror (for which we apologize): Dreams are far more nebulous than technology, and therefore forgivably pliant in how the show uses them. It’s easier to accept the idiosyncrasies of human nature for inconsistency than uninvented technology as a deus ex machina.

What is this!

Image: amazon

Each episode stands alone, but you don’t have to stress about learning the rules of each universe as you would on – um, other shows (we won’t say it). Viewers can intuit the basics; this community exists outside our existing society, this one is set in the future, this one in space, etc. It’s more imperative at any given moment to keep track of the protagonist you spend the hour with – are they happy with their job or family? What drives them to do what they do?

The protagonists themselves vary depending on the world, but most of them have grown tired of monotony. “The Father Problem” spends a riveting hour with Charlie, a young boy who discovers a sinister secret threatening his family. “Real Life” vacillates between two protagonists, Sarah (Anna Paquin) and George (Terrence Howard) who can’t shake the connection between them. Some, like “Impossible Planet,” feel like something out of another show (in this case, Doctor Who, and not just because the two shows share the episode title).

Indeed, the show’s promo image and marketing make it seem far more phantasmagorical than the reality. This isn’t a show with a sprawling mythology or characters you might need to start storing in a file. If you choose to analyze the stories further, you’ll find plenty to dissect (and make your high school English teacher proud) and a mesmerizing binge ahead.

Philip K. DIck’s Electric Dreams is now streaming on Amazon.

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