Last night was the debut of Channel 4’s new anthology show Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.
When I first heard about this programme’s development back in May I was excited and intrigued. Philip K. Dick has long been one of my favourite authors since I first discovered him thanks to the 1982 film Blade Runner. Many of Dick’s works have already been adapted into film and now to have a regular dose of his brand of far seeing science fiction, well, how could I not be excited?
The first episode was The Hood Maker, based on a story of the same name first published June 1955 in Imagination magazine and adapted by Matthew Graham (Graham is an excellent choice for adapting this story as he has credentials that include Life on Mars, Doctor Who, and Childhood’s End), opens with Clearance Agent Ross (Richard Madden) and his teep partner Honor (Holliday Granger) observing a demonstration against the Anti Immunity bill.
Teep is slang for telepath. Teeps in The Hood Maker are an oppressed underclass, treated little better than slaves in most cases, but they are useful in scanning the minds of normal people. Certainly something many police agencies would like to take advantage of. The Anti Immunity bill would make it illegal to refuse to be scanned, either with or without your permission. Certainly as dark and foreboding a proposition as any government security agency reading your emails today.
This fits in with much of Dick’s writing. His work often contains an element of paranoia, suspicion, or outright prejudice. Allowing a teep to work alongside a Clearance agent only creates a deeper sense of suspicion. For both norms and teeps.
The Hood Maker presents a world of a retro futuristic decline, only heightening the overall sense of oppression. The appearance of multiple Cortinas and Granadas fit in seamlessly with the film noir decay of their surroundings.
Both Madden and Granger play their parts with great skill and sensitivity. Ross does his best to make Honor feel like his partner and Honor, though guarded, can’t help but warm to him. Madden and Granger are more than ably supported by the likes of Richard McCabe, Noma Dumezweni, and Anneika Rose. The cast and production team have set an extremely high bar for this series. If the remaining nine stories in this series are of the same high quality, it will be a massive success for Channel 4 and Amazon. It will also be a massive success for us, the viewers.
The Hood Maker deserves all the praise it’s getting and more. If you haven’t seen it yet, I can only recommend to make the time and catch up with it on Channel 4 On Demand. Whether you are a fan of Dick’s writing or you’ve never heard of him before, I think you will find yourself drawn into the worlds he created and seek out more from this uniquely creative author.
The next episode The Impossible Planet airs Sunday 24 September on Channel 4 at 9 pm.
As an aside I’m testing out using the Ulysses app in writing this blog so if things look a bit wonky for a while it’s because I’m learning to use this new software.