If you desire thought-provoking science fiction in standalone episodes, then locate an electronic viewing unit to binge-watch “Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams.” Featuring stylized visions of the future, the eerie and imaginative “Electric Dreams” will install itself under your skin.
Title: "Electric Dreams"
Year it began: 2017
Where it can be seen: Amazon Prime
Who’s in it: Anna Paquin, Terrence Howard, Janelle Monáe, Juno Temple, Geraldine Chaplin, Jack Reynor, Benedict Wong, Holliday Grainger, Richard Madden, Annalise Basso, Timothy Spall, Greg Kinnear, Bryan Cranston, Steve Buscemi, Mel Rodriguez
Typical episode length: 49 minutes
Number of episodes to date: 10
Brief plot description: “Electric Dreams” offers science fiction, with each self-contained episode based on short stories by Philip K. Dick.
Why it’s worth watching: Imagining worlds filled with technological wonders and nightmares, “Electric Dreams” offers well-produced science fiction. Each episode pulses with Dick’s fictional obsessions, such as the blurring of lines between humans and machines, the possibilities created by space travel, and the toxic worlds engineered by cold-hearted corporations. It has some fine writing and many excellent guest stars. While some episodes stay a bit too close to such science-fiction conventions as alien body-snatching or totalitarian surveillance societies, there are some truly outstanding productions.
In “Real Life,” Paquin and Howard turn in powerful, complementary performances as a police officer and CEO who use virtual reality technology to take “vacations” from their lives. Paquin’s Sarah and Howard’s George unravel as their realities becomes indistinguishable from their fantasies. With excellent performances by Monáe (as the hospitality robot Alice) and Temple (as the hacker revolutionary Emily Zabriskie), “Autofac” critiques unrestrained capitalism by showing us a post-Apocalyptic, robot-run factory whose seemingly infinite drones deliver countless boxes to passive consumers.
In “The Hood Maker,” civil tensions seethe as typical people live in fear and loathing of “teeps”—people who have developed mind-scanning skills. Grainger powerfully portrays Honor, a sensitive “teep” who alienates her peers by assisting the coolly confident police officer, Ross (Madden). “Safe and Sound” shows the dangers of choosing security over freedom, as Basso portrays a paranoid young woman manipulated by Ethan (played with creepy smarminess by Connor Paolo). In an especially lovely episode, “Impossible Planet,” an intensely optimistic traveler named Irma (Chapin) pays a two-man crew (Reynor and Wong) to travel to an Earth that they know was long ago destroyed, in a journey with an unexpected and sublime end.