Electric Dreams Episode 5: Real Life (TV episode review)

October 20, 2017 | By | Reply More

Have a holiday in your own home try Real Life. This latest episode of ‘Electric Dreams’ in based on the story ‘Exhibit Piece’ and if you watch and listen carefully there are some little acknowledgements to the story written in 1954 by Phillip K. Dick, including a request for the Cold War Combo which happens to be burger and fries.

Sarah is suffering post-traumatic stress from surviving a blood bath in which many of her fellow police officers were killed. Her wife, Kate, offers her the use of a new software which offers a vacation in your head when you become another person. Suddenly, she is George. Recently and traumatically bereaved, George has gone all Bruce Wayne. Subtle details of both stories are similar and we are left wondering which person has the Real Life. Sarah wants to find the cop killer and George also wants to track down the brutal murderer of his wife. They are the same person and once again we are drawn into the weave of truth and lies.

This story is greatly enhanced by strong leads in Anna Paquin and Terrence Howard as Sarah and George. Lara Pulver is George’s doctor and friend with Sam Witwer as Chris, George’s close friend and colleague. Rachelle Lefevre is Katie/Kate. Sarah lives in the future with amazing flying cars whilst George lives in modern America. Locations are minimal especially in references to previous episodes. In ‘Crazy Diamond’ and ‘The Commuter’ they played a much more significant part in our understanding of the drama. In this, we do see the contrast of the shiny future which positively glows and the downbeat 21st century. They both have the same mean streets though, where the worlds collide.

Sarah (Anna Paquin)
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams Episode 104 “Real Life”

This is an interesting twist on the original story but also on the ever-popular immersive virtual reality which has long been a theme that intrigues and confuses us. Ronald D. Moore, who has a considerable CV with ‘Battlestar: Galactica’, ‘Outlander’ and before that ‘Star Trek’, has taken quite a simple idea and come up witty a clever drama that continues to wrong foot us. To say anymore about the plot would be spoilers but there is enough happening in each scenario to convince us that either one could be real.

The gloss aside this is a story where the character suffers from issues around deserving what they get. The subconscious dictates and follows the both positive and negative inside us all. It is also another instance of being careful what you wish for even if you don’t realise you are wishing for it.

On a final note, I would have loved to have seen the original filmed but am not sure the modern audience would get the references and the paranoia about the Cold War that fed it. The self-destruct in this story does follow on from Dick’s ideas but at the personal level rather than society itself which might tell us something about where we are in human development and why we take so many selfies.

Sue Davie

October 2017

Category: Scifi, TV

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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