TV Review: Electric Dreams (Season 1, Episode 8)
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Set twenty years after a world war destroyed human civilisation as we know it, ‘Autofac’ is the story of a resistance group fighting for survival outside the wastelands. The Autofac is a fully automated and self-sufficient factory that was set in motion before the war broke out and has since continued unstopped, expanding, and stripping the land, producing unwanted and unnecessary goods ever since. The settlement needs to shut the Autofac down in order to stop it polluting the water, the land, and encroaching on their small pocket of the earth. This episode of Electric Dreams is stylistically beautiful, drawing upon old-school science fiction images such as a beautiful female android, 90s styling of the survivors, the unknown ‘alien’ backlit as she steps off a flying ship, towering monolithic architecture, and technological wastelands. The score marries magnificently with the cinematography, but that’s not in the least to say that this episode was another style-over-substance instalment (looking at you, The Father Thing). It’s science fiction cinema pastiche, hailing back to the genre’s golden age; what it is not, is a cliché. It’s a dynamic tale that pivots upon good plot twists, and Travis Beacham’s interpretation of the PKD story brings new layers to the original short, whilst keeping the same themes. One of the best ways in which the episode has been updated is a lovely bit of gender bending. The entire story relies on the protagonist Emily’s skills with engineering and coding, or as she describes it, ‘tinkering’. PKD’s stories might have been ahead of their time in many ways, but when it comes to gender they are very much of-their-time; in the original short story, the only woman is the wife of the main character, and she is kept out mostly out of the primary narrative.
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