Watch the New Trailer for Electric Dreams, the Philip K. Dick TV Series, Starring Bryan Cranston, Steve Buscemi & More

If you had told crit­ics and film exec­u­tives thir­ty-five years ago that Rid­ley Scott’s Blade Run­ner would be one of the most beloved sci-fi films of all time—that it would tran­scend cult sta­tus to become a near-reli­gious object in sci­ence fic­tion and ani­me filmmaking—you would like­ly have been laughed out of the room. If you had pre­dict­ed that, thir­ty-five years lat­er, it would spawn one of the most spec­tac­u­lar sequels imag­in­able, you might have been met with con­cern for your san­i­ty. The world was just not ready for Blade Run­ner in 1982, just as it was not ready for Philip K. Dick in the 50s when he began his writ­ing career and “couldn’t even pay the late fees on a library book.”

In the fol­low­ing decade, how­ev­er, Dick’s work came into its own. Many years before it pro­vid­ed a near-infal­li­ble source for tech­no­log­i­cal pre­science and exis­ten­tial futur­ism in cin­e­ma, Do Androids Dream of Elec­tric Sheep?, the novel­la from which Blade Run­ner adapt­ed its sto­ry, got a Neb­u­la award nom­i­na­tion, one of three Dick received in the 60s. Five years ear­li­er, he won a Hugo award for The Man in the High Cas­tle.

Now, after the suc­cess of that spec­u­la­tive his­tor­i­cal novel’s grim Ama­zon adap­ta­tion, the com­pa­ny has part­nered with Chan­nel 4 and Sony for anoth­er small-screen Dick project—Elec­tric Dreams, co-pro­duced by Bryan Cranston, a long­time fan of the author.

An anthol­o­gy series based on Dick’s sto­ries, Elec­tric Dreams first airs on Chan­nel 4 in the U.K., and will soon move to Ama­zon, where Prime users will be able to stream the whole 10-episode sea­son for free. (If you aren’t a Prime user, you can get a 30-day free tri­al to watch the series, then keep or can­cel the mem­ber­ship.) Elec­tric Dreams reminds us that a cou­ple of phe­nom­e­na from Dick’s hey­day have made a sig­nif­i­cant come­back in recent years. First, imag­i­na­tive, high-con­cept anthol­o­gy shows like Char­lie Brooker’s Black Mir­ror and the Duplass broth­ers’ Room 104 hear­ken back to the suc­cess of The Twi­light Zone and less­er-known shows like Roald Dahl’s Way Out.

Sec­ond­ly, we’ve made a return to the para­noia, social unrest, author­i­tar­i­an­ism, and threats of nuclear war that formed the back­drops of Dick’s vision­ary fables. These are indeed “anx­ious times,” as Cranston says, but he and the show’s oth­er pro­duc­ers instruct­ed the writ­ers to “use the orig­i­nal mate­r­i­al as a spring­board to your own re-imag­in­ing of the story—keep the core… or idea behind it and enhance that and see how that affects not a Cold War peri­od when it was writ­ten, but now. How does it affect the mod­ern-day audi­ence?”

Giv­en the all-star cast and high-dol­lar pro­duc­tion val­ues evi­dent in the trail­er above, we can like­ly expect the same kind of qual­i­ty from Elec­tric Dreams as we have seen in near­ly every Dick adap­ta­tion thus far. And if it doesn’t catch on right away, well, that may be everyone’s loss but those view­ers who rec­og­nize, as Dick him­self rec­og­nized when he saw Blade Run­ner in 1982, that they have expe­ri­enced some­thing tru­ly unique.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Blade Run­ner: The Pil­lar of Sci-Fi Cin­e­ma that Siskel, Ebert, and Stu­dio Execs Orig­i­nal­ly Hat­ed

Philip K. Dick Pre­views Blade Run­ner: “The Impact of the Film is Going to be Over­whelm­ing” (1981)

When Roald Dahl Host­ed His Own Creepy TV Show Way Out, a Com­pan­ion to Rod Serling’s Twi­light Zone (1961)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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