Jul 26, 2023
Electric Dreams: What Happened to the Sci
Fanatics of the surreal cyber-punk/tech-noir series, Electric Dreams, demand more, and we'll delve into the reasons why. Philip K. Dick (The Blade Runner series, Minority Report, Total Recall,
Fanatics of the surreal cyber-punk/tech-noir series, Electric Dreams, demand more, and we'll delve into the reasons why.
Philip K. Dick (The Blade Runner series, Minority Report, Total Recall, Adjustment Bureau, Paycheck, etc.) is a topic in and of himself. Setting aside the surreal life of this award-winning independent author, the sci-fi series Electric Dreams was released in 2017, which is established from his lesser-known works. The much-anticipated post-mortem series touching upon the 120+ short stories he released during his life was met with ecstatic devotee response and critical acclaim.
With such a great thing going for Dick's estate, what's the hold-up on a follow-up season? Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams triggered in audiences a strange sensation they'd not felt in ages – the feeling of the unreal. While slightly foolhardy alongside bold, Electric Dreams challenged preconceptions of what television could be in a way not seen since The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, each of which had iterations and reboots that spanned the decades.
Challenging endings and inexplicable events took viewers on voyages of the electric mind that pushed boundaries of what sci-fi could be – all based mostly on magazine spec work Dick completed in the 50s and 60s. Brilliant, unorthodox, and sometimes incomprehensible – why wouldn't the series go for gold with another award-winning season? Many speculate it was the competing show Black Mirror over on Netflix that managed to reach a larger demographic. Is it that simple?
Related: 10 TV Shows to Watch if You Love Netflix's Black Mirror
Many entertainment consumers around the planet by this point have heard about the ongoing war between SAG / AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild) alongside the WGA (Writer's Guild of America) versus the streaming platforms of Hollywood writ large. It's a natural inclination for many to consider this averse situation as having contributed to future episodes of Electric Dreams, yet this is an exercise in putting the cart before the horse. It's been six years. Philip K. Dick's afterlife baby never scored especially high on rotten tomatoes, perhaps because viewers were anticipating or looking forward to more streamlined story arcs and Hollywood-ized endings.
Not all science fiction fits such a mold. Philip K. Dick was well-known for his iconoclastic style, dissident nature, and eccentric lifestyle. All of these factors influenced the writer's works, and his stories are unpredictable roller-coasters.
Does this transfer well to the streaming medium of 10-episode seasons and half-hour shows? The answer is yes – most of the time – but casual viewers can't carry a series on a streaming platform the way they could on over-the-air broadcast days of the previously mentioned 50s and 60s, the days of black-and-white Twilight Zone (which is where Electric Dreams, ironically, finds itself). Perhaps it would have behooved Prime Video to take a cue from Netflix's Black Mirror after all (at least their advertising and marketing campaign strategies).
On the opposite side of the coin is the counter-argument: Prime Video tried something, but it didn't work. There were a lot of emerging competing science fiction outcroppings (such as Dimension 404, Sense8, Counterpart, etc.) and only a certain number of streamers and viewers to cater to.
In that light, Electric Dreams was a flash from the ether containing a trace of the cultural zeitgeist. Electric Dreams may not have made it as far as Black Mirror or Sense8, but in the separate but equal alternate reality in which Phil still lives, many of his fanatics know he'd be happy.
Regardless of the fact that enthusiasts will likely never see season two of Electric Dreams, the stellar cast that included Peter Dinklage, Bryan Cranston, Vera Farmiga, Terrance Howard, Steve Buscemi, Rudi Dharmalingam, Benedict Wong, and other award winners will never be forgotten. And frankly, the fact that ten episodes were ever produced in the first place is a miracle for science fiction buffs. For the underserved Phil Dick, long in his grave, having almost a dozen high-budget shows based on his stories may be proof enough of a living intelligence as far as he was concerned.
For over forty years since the release of Blade Runner (1982), enthusiasts of edgy science fiction and over-the-top philosophical ideas have turned to Philip K. Dick to unclog their brains. In 2017, Phil's devotees saw the release of Blade Runner 2049 as well as the various spin-offs (Nexus Dawn, Nowhere to Run, and Blackout 2022) alongside Black Lotus, which has a renewed life in the upcoming season 2.
Related: Blade Runner: Black Lotus: Possible New Storylines for Season 2
And while Electric Dreams may have run their course and Philip K. Dick fans are emerging from their hypnogogic state, fans can rest assured and take comfort in the fact that Phil's stories continue in Blade Runner: Black Lotus. The release date of the 2nd season of the ongoing series is scheduled for the fall of 2023.
Zak MT Standridge is the author of 'Conquerors of Titan' available from Saga Press. In 2021 Standridge was chosen a "Best Barista Audio-Books of All Time" winner by BookAuthority, and Zak has been a #1 Kindle author as well as an Audible bestseller. First gaining notoriety in the pages of 'Chromakey: the Magazine of Sci-Fi & Cult TV', Standridge further cemented his career as an anime and manga writer for 'Nation X'. Currently a featured writer on MovieWeb.com, Zak pens science fiction novels when not practicing self-defense.Electric Dreams