Last night the world was anticipating the premiere of CBS’s new addition to the Star Trek franchise, Star Trek: Discovery (read my review here). But we shouldn’t forget that there is more new science fiction this year than just Star Trek.
Channel 4 aired the second episode of it’s anthology series Electric Dreams, The Impossible Planet (not to be confused with the Doctor Who episode). Based on Philip K. Dick’s short story of the same name, we were once more given a glimpse into another of Dick’s visionary futures.
Philip K. Dick’s story The Impossible Planet first appeared in Imagination Magazine’s October 1953 issue. Channel 4’s version was adapted and directed by David Farr. The Impossible Planet follows the story of two space tourism employees, Brian Norton (Jack Reynor) and Ed Andrews (Benedict Wong), as they ferry they extremely elderly Irma Louise Gordon (Geraldine Chaplin) to the mythical birthplace of humankind, Earth.
The Impossible Planet as originally written by Dick is rather straight forward without much in the way of double or hidden meaning so typical of Dick’s later works. This adaptation of The Impossible Planet, while following the story more closely than the The Hood Maker, still tries to make the story more Philip K. Dick than Dick himself did. Or at least what most people have come to consider as Dick’s style.
Benedict Wong performs admirably as the less than scrupulous Ed Andrews, and Jack Reynor’s Brian Norton as a semi-reluctant participant, offers a good portrayal of a man in emotional conflict. Geraldine Chaplin was an excellent choice for Irma Gordon. She’s frail without being weak either mentally or emotionally.
The bulk of the story focuses on Norton and his difficulties in his home and work life, and his strange and changing relationship with Irma Gordon and her needs on this highly unusual trip. By the end of the story, however, you knew how things were going to end, and there were no surprises. This is the case in the original story as well. That ending was different to this one, but not surprising in the least either.
Electric Dreams’ second outing is an entertaining and capable version of one of Dick’s lesser known stories (by the general public at least). The acting and the writing were on par with the first episode and while it didn’t have quite the emotional punch of The Hood Maker, it’s still very worthy viewing.
I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the series.
The next episode The Commuter airs Sunday October 1st on Channel 4.