Electric Dreams Episode 4 : Crazy Diamond (TV episode review)

Shine on. You may wish to revise your Pink Floyd knowledge there are a whole lot of sly nods here to the band’s epic song ‘Crazy Diamond’ dedicated to Syd Barrett, a founder member who left the band after struggling with mental health.

Ed Norris is a company man but he’s a dreamer, too. He’s wishing his time away slowly renovating a twentieth-century yacht and planning his escape to the high seas while the world is literally crashing down around him. He’s living in a more romantic age where he can listen to vinyl on a record player but the reality is that the rest of his life is prescribed by society and he is all at sea. The homes are all mass-produced pods perched precariously on crumbling cliffs. No one can grow their own crops because it would unbalance the local economy but the food delivered spoils increasingly fast. It looks like the world is running down. Ed’s motivations and actions are misunderstood by those around him and his wife truly doesn’t understand him.

Life in this near future, features Jacks and Jills, a form of sentient human-looking android who benefit from the quantum consciousness. Developed in the laboratory by Ed and his colleagues, this is injected into the android and behold they think, therefore they are. They are both sympathetic and empathetic and hopefully won’t want to kill you, at least no more than any other human would. Unfortunately for the Jill that Ed meets, they also have a shelf-life and, like the food delivered to the house everyday, it is quite short. This Jill doesn’t want to die and asks Ed to help her in a heist to get the quantum consciousness she needs to keep living. She plays upon his romantic notions but he fails her and the company comes first.

Meanwhile, his wife Sally has her own secrets and develops a friendship with the guard at her own place of work. Sue is 40% ‘normal’ and 60% porcine with an exemplary moral code. Sally is drawn to make a friend of Sue despite their social difference and this highlights Ed’s relationship with the artificially created Jill. Despite his attraction to her, he cannot move beyond her as a product rather than a sentient creature.

There is so much going on here. Jill’s red lipstick, Captain’s Blood the cocktail, references to the creeping entropy of civilisation and the illegality of growing your own potatoes. There is a lot to process. The locations including the barren but enticing Dungeness and Beachy Head show us the creeping entropy as houses collapse into the sea or in one scene hang over the cliff, a visual cliff-hanger in the eye of the viewer.

International casting casts a glamour over this production, despite its UK settings. Steve Buscemi, known for his oddball characters, has a face that expresses so much. His wife, Sally, is played by Julia Davis has a certain look on her face that quickly tells us she has her own hidden desires. Sidse Babette Knudsen previously seen as the Danish Prime Minister in ‘Borgen’ but more recently as the boss in ‘Westworld’ has an otherworldly allure but also portrays the vulnerability of a person desperate to stay alive.

‘Crazy Diamond’ is intense with everything rather crammed in. I felt there was a lot of detail missed out due to the running time. At the end’ I realised I wanted to watch it again. I very much wanted Ed to do the right thing and even knowing what he does would not spoil another viewing. The drama invited us to recognise that we are the hapless Ed and we have the future moral dilemma of living in a society that thinks it is ok to put human faces on sheep and create and destroy ‘humans’ to do our dirty work.

You could imagine this is all about the tech and the little bit of ‘Mad Max’ action is a distraction with the almost feral humans taking the quantum consciousness from Jill for their own end. Although goodness knows what they were supposed to be doing as this wasn’t explained neither. There are also probably a more than the one Pink Floyd reference here. I’m pretty sure the pig refers to a flying one used in a life performance and maybe the red lipstick is pointing somewhere, too. There is definitely a 40s movie vibe. The writer Tony Grisoni has gone to town with imagery, too, and visually again it’s a treat in HD.

‘Crazy Diamond’ is flawed but it tries hard. It wants to make us think which is no bad thing. Part-homage and part-protest against consumerism and misuse of science at the end of the day, it’s really a simple story of boy meets girl, loses girl, confuses and disappoints both girl and wife and ends up in the vast ocean of his inadequacy.

Sue Davies

October 2017

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