Tara Ward stargazes beneath the celeb-studded galaxy of Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams.
The trippy anthology series Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams boasts one of the most formidable collections of actors in a single television series. Not even Sharknado could gather together the creative talents of award-winning stars like Bryan Cranston, Anna Paquin, Vera Farmiga, Janelle Monae, Terrence Howard, Timothy Spall, Maura Tierney, Steve Buscemi and Richard Madden.
In fact, there’s more wow factor in the all-star cast of Electric Dreams than the moment you realise the security guard in episode four is half pig, half human.
Electric Dreams is an anthology of futuristic journeys into an imagined science fiction world. Unique and thought-provoking, every story features a variety of strange scenarios all anchored within the realms of possibility. Humanity is under threat, the environment is screwed, and the world is a terrifying place. Hello? This is 2018 calling, we want our apocalypse back.
After a few minutes of Electric Dreams you’ll begin to nervously question your own existence, and by the end of the series you’ll be in a constant state of panic over what the future holds. What if aliens already invaded the human race? What if the government really can read our minds? All I’ve thought about today was the four Mallowpuffs I ate for breakfast and whether I should sign up for Jeremy Kyle’s Emergency Room. If there’s a dystopian telepathic uprising in my future, I’m in trouble.
Doomed or not, you don’t sign up this many A-list players to a television show without it being a bloody good watch. Let’s take a trip into the wild Electric Dreams galaxy and discover some of its biggest stars.
Timothy Spall: Episode 3, The Commuter
BAFTA-nominee Timothy Spall plays a train station employee who discovers people are travelling to a town that shouldn’t exist, much in the same way I used to catch a train to Gore during the university holidays. Steady on, Gore is flipping awesome and so is Timothy Spall in The Commuter, as he visits an idyllic alternative reality where things aren’t what they seem. Sadly, there’s no statue of a giant trout, but it’s still one heck of a journey.
Steve Buscemi: Episode 4, Crazy Diamond
(Honourable mention: Dawn from Gavin and Stacey)
This episode is as crazy as a pig-person security guard giving marital advice to a woman rebelling against society by growing bean sprouts in her fridge. Golden Globe and Emmy winner Steve Buscemi plays Ed, an average bloke dreaming of escape from a bleak world. The AI shit hits the fan when Ed meets Jill, a synthetic woman who needs his help to stop becoming wizened and decayed. It’s the story of my life, but with fewer mung beans.
Anna Paquin and Terrence Howard: Episode 5, Real Life
Prepare for your mind to be messed with, as Academy Award winner and local hero Anna Paquin’s character takes an experimental virtual reality holiday to escape her own traumatised existence. Sarah becomes trapped in another world with eerie similarities to her own, except she’s turned into Terrence Howard. It’s an intriguing and confusing mix of reality and fantasy, with sound effects that’ll have you Googling the symptoms of tinnitus quicker than you can say “this vacation is worse than the time I went camping”.
Bryan Cranston: Episode 6, Human Is
Welcome to Earth 2520, where Steve Buscemi’s house has almost definitely fallen into the sea. Electric Dreams executive producer Bryan Cranston plays a grumpy bastard who undertakes a dangerous mission to another planet to pinch resources necessary for Earth’s survival. The episode also features a lot of snazzy electric doors and some futuristic sexy times inside a plastic Zorb ball. You never got that on Malcolm in the Middle.
Vera Farmiga: Episode 7, Kill All Others
Directed by Mudbound’s Dee Rees, Kill All Others is a perfectly timed piece about the power of words in an uneasy political climate. Oscar nominee and Bates Motel star Vera Farmiga plays the only candidate in the MexUSCan mega-nation election, and you don’t need to travel further than Covfefe to find a scarier politician. Not only does The Candidate have incredible sleeves, she also encourages citizens to “kill all others”, a message that puts a right downer on factory worker Phil’s life after he speaks out in protest.
Janelle Monáe: Episode 8, Autofac
The bad news is that society has collapsed and consumerism is imperative for survival, but the good news is Autofac features musician and Hidden Figures actor Janelle Monáe as android Alice. With more twists and turns than a drone flying through an automated warehouse, the idea that everything is replaceable will haunt you during your next Amazon purchase.
Click below to stargaze your way through dystopia in Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, available exclusively on Lightbox:
This content, like all television coverage we do at The Spinoff, is brought to you thanks to the excellent folk at Lightbox. Do us and yourself a favour by clicking here to start a FREE 30 day trial of this truly wonderful service.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.