Even if you’ve watched Amazon Prime’s “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams,” you still don’t know the 10 short stories they came from. The teleplay writers tended to be inspired by the yarns more so than doing straight adaptations of them. The good news is that you now have 10 more pieces of “Electric Dreams” entertainment, collected in a 2017 tome from British publisher Gollancz. Each story has a short introduction from the teleplay writer.
“Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” (Amazon Prime) has one of the best opening-credits sequences in recent memory: The music gets tenser and creepier as we see a pregnant man, a chicken-legged woman and a beachgoer walking a cloud on a leash to his mind. Then PKD himself, despite being deceased since just before “Blade Runner’s” release in 1982, pops into the frame – but the back of his head is all wires: He’s an android.
“Blade Runner 2049” (2017) – now available via Redbox and streaming – brings us back into the world of the 1982 Ridley Scott classic. It feels like director Denis Villeneuve, who also helmed the overrated “Arrival” (2016) and the excellent “Prisoners” (2013), just wants to play in the sandbox of “Blade Runner,” complete with all the action figures and gadgets. There’s no debating that this is a gorgeous film, but every scene is twice as long as it needs to be for story purposes, and the characters are nearly copies (give me credit for avoiding the “replicant” pun) from the original, starting with blade runner K (Ryan Gosling) standing in for Deckard (Harrison Ford). If you just want to soak up the “BR” vibe again, you’ll be in heaven; if you expect new sci-fi themes or ideas, you’ll be let down.
One of the fun things about re-reading golden age sci-fi novels is seeing how their predictions compare to reality now that we’re coming upon the dates in which those books are set. Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” (1968) is of interest now because of the recent theatrical release of the “Blade Runner” sequel and because its fictional date of 2021 isn’t far away.
Watching the pilot episode of “Minority Report” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays on Fox) really makes me want to do a rewatch of “Almost Human,”“Century City” and “Dollhouse.” Set in 2065, this series that continues from the 2002 Steven Spielberg film – which was itself adapted from a Philip K. Dick short story – looks gorgeous, like those other future-set shows.
The laboratories of innovation are churning away in the world of TV. Competition from cable, pay cable and – most recently and importantly – Internet streaming has led to the formerly unheard-of sight of network TV launching a comic-book superhero show (“Supergirl” on CBS), a horror-comedy (“Scream Queens” on Fox) and a Philip K. Dick adaptation (“Minority Report” on Fox). I still think today’s elite shows fall short of the best from 10 or 15 years ago, but the potential for good TV has never been higher. But which shows will emerge as this year’s best? Here are some contenders (all times Eastern):
Philip K. Dick is widely remembered for his unparalleled sci-fi imagination, and the latest adaptation of one of his short stories, “The Adjustment Bureau,” is rife with that. Less widely acknowledged — but certainly known by the late author’s fans — is that PKD was a decent character writer, too.