As The Man In The High Castle returns for season three and the sequel to Blade Runner takes over our cinema screens, Philip K Dick’s short stories will come to life in a new 10-part TV series from Channel 4, Sony and Amazon entitled Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams. “This is an electric dream come true,” said showrunner Bryan Cranston in an early press release. “We are so thrilled to be able to explore and expand upon the evergreen themes found in the incredible work of this literary master.”
This sci-fi master’s dystopian visions seem far from a dream, however, and in a preview screening we witnessed alternative futures where feared telepaths incited riots (episode one; The Hood Maker) and porcine beings and humans share a crumbling world where souls are engineered in test tubes (Crazy Diamond). Other stories in the anthology touch on VR, body snatchers, space travellers, sanctioned violence, sinister factories and paranoid societies. Perhaps it’s a sign of our troubled times that Dick’s work remains hugely popular? “His stories inspired a lot of us since childhood,” co-producer and writer Ron Moore (Outlander, Battlestar Galactica) told us. “If you like sci-fi you can’t help but like Philip K Dick… He took a lot of mad things and threw them onto the page!” Sidse Babett Knudsen, one of the lead actors who took part in the post-screening Q&A agreed: “The whole thing is odd, we are odd, the style is odd… it’s exceptionally playful.”
Co-producer Michael Dinner explained that he and Moore put together an ‘all-star’ team for this ambitious project, recruiting screenwriters with a collective resume including Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, Life On Mars, The Night Manager, Stranger Things and Pacific Rim and directors who span film, TV and theatre. “The writers and directors were able to look into the material [Dick had written over 120 short stories] and find an emotional component that meant something to them,” he told us.
Electric Dreams also features impressive talent in front of the camera, such as Bryan Cranston, Steve Buscemi, Vera Farmiga, Timothy Spall, Benedict Wong, Anna Paquin and Geraldine Chaplin. Richard Madden and Holliday Grainger’s screen chemistry continues from Lady Chatterly’s Lover in impressive debut episode The Hood Maker, a tale that launches the question that runs through the whole series: what does it really mean to be human? It’s a question that may run on into season two should the series prove a hit – after all, Philip K Dick was a prolific dreamer…
Episode one of Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams airs Sun 17 Sep on Channel 4 at 9pm