TV Review: Electric Dreams (Season 1, Episode 9)
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Electric Dreams’ penultimate episode is one which achieves great things with its world-building, but suffers from its oversimplified themes. PKD’s original short story, Foster, You’re Dead is an anti-consumerist story set in the context of the Cold War. In ‘Safe and Sound’ however, the writers have taken the same core theme but built an entirely new and high-tech world around it.
Teenager Foster (Annalise Basso) and her politician mother (Maura Tierney) move from one of their fringe, non-compliant ‘Bubbles’ into a high-security, high-tech city. Foster’s mother is here to fight infringements on the rights of the Bubble colonies, and the East Coast propaganda that claims the Bubbles have been sending terrorists across to kill them; no one has ever seen an attack, except on the news. ‘Safe and Sound’ is an episode that would have worked fantastically as the pilot to a longer series in itself, thanks to the complexity and detail put into the world-building, a perfect balance of familiar and unfamiliar territory that is perfect for science fiction storytelling. This latest instalment also deals with some timely and loaded subject matters – terrorism, fake news, radicalisation, the oppressive nature of state-sponsored surveillance technology, and a media with its own monopoly on truth. Its problem is it attempts too many heavy-weight themes into what is only a 45-minute segment of television. In trying to do too much, ‘Safe and Sound’ loses all nuance and fails to do justice to any of the big subjects it explores. The episode’s initial ideas are pertinent and manageable in the allotted time: when does ‘security’ cross over into oppression and loss of privacy? Is comfort worth giving up freedom? Yet instead of honing in on these far more concise themes, the story devolves into Foster being groomed as a weapon of the state.
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