Electric Dreams: The Hood Maker, Channel 4

Reporter:

Jamie Bowman

With anticipation at fever pitch ahead of the forthcoming Blade Runner sequel hitting our cinema screens, these are good times for fans of sci fi author Phillip K Dick.

The American wrote the original novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? on which Blade Runner was based, as well as the stories on which other films including Total Recall, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly and The Adjustment Bureau were adapted from, so it comes as something of a surprise that no one thought to mine this rich seam for TV before Channel 4 with this new 10-part anthology series.

In this opener, titled The Hood Maker, we are transported to a near-future world where technology is underdeveloped and all the police drive Ford Cortinas and wear leather jackets.

Think Life on Mars but instead of Gene Hunt we get the impossibly good looking Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) as Agent Ross, who is trying to cope with a strange new partner in the shape of the telepathic Holliday Grainger as Honor.

Honor and her fellow telepaths exist as second-class citizens, used by the shadowy authorities to monitor the downtrodden populace who unsurprisingly are threatening insurrection, with Honor stuck in the middle between her fondness for Ross and her loyalty to her fellow mind readers.

What follows is classic Dick, with themes such as state surveillance, prejudice, civil liberties and human rights all coming to the fore as Madden and Grainger enter a romance doomed to fail (imagine if your lover could read your every thought?) with a gathering rebellion as the violent backdrop.

Packing all this into an hour proved hard work but there was still plenty to admire about The Hood Maker not least the grimy, claustrophobic sets and the excellent acting from the two leads.

It was frightening too - the waxed linen hood of the title which the ‘normals’ used against the ‘teeps’ to block their telepathic intrusion was a nightmarish vision recalling Halloween’s Michael Myers.

By the end of a captivating 60 minutes it was even more scary to think how little the world had changed since Dick first put pen to paper in the 1950s.

Email:

jamie.bowman@nwn.co.uk

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