Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams S01E01 “The Hood Maker” REVIEW

Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams S01E01 “The Hood Maker” REVIEW

0 comments 📅18 September 2017, 01:07

Airing in the UK at 10pm Sundays on Channel 4
Matthew Graham
Julian Jarrold

Essential Plot Points:

  • Honor (Holliday Grainger), a telepath, watches a man and a young boy fishing.
  • Cut to a protest with banners saying “Don’t steal our minds” and “Freedom to think” in a rundown futuristic city, as police watch and a telepath describes their motivations. A masked man throws a petrol bomb and a chase ensues, with agent Ross (Richard Madden) finally catching him.
  • “Teeps” – slang for telepaths – are being deployed on the streets, and Honor is Ross’s new partner.
  • She reads the man who wore the mask and his childhood memories are disturbing. He tries a repeated phrase to block her: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” She counters with: “The slow black dog bows before the regal fox.”
  • They search the hideout plucked from the mask wearer’s mind and find his accomplices, alongside another mask “sent to you with the compliments of the hood maker. He hopes you find it useful.”

  • Downstairs Honor spots someone else in a mask but it hurts to try and read him. Ross shoots him.
  • In a psychic brothel a teep reads an important man’s disturbing thoughts, feeling the pain he would like to inflict on her. When she goes to sleep that might all of the other teeps in the room share the pain of her dream.
  • Ross picks Honor up in her ghetto and it’s clear the teeps don’t like her working for the law as much as the other agents don’t like her being at work.
  • Ross briefs the team on the masks. Honor taps into a network of teeps as she looks for information on the material.
  • More hoods are found by children, presents of the hood maker. Suddenly Honor senses her friend is in pain – the important man, the director of Federal Resources, is back and this time he has a mask.
  • The director says he knows who requested a lot of similar fabric. As he and Ross talk, Honor puts on the mask. It cuts all the noise from her mind.
  • The pair discover the material was requested by an anti-teep science division led by doctor Thaddeus Cutter, who was experimenting on teeps and left following a breakdown 13 years ago.
  • The director tries to pick Mary up again but she and the other teeps carry out a psychic attack and destroy his mind. Riots follow the attack.
  • Ross takes Honor back to his place so she’ll be safe. They sleep together and afterwards she reads his dreams, seeing the fishing scene from the picture on his wall, the image we first saw at the start.
  • Honor finds a lead to a bookbinding company where the material could be made, which closed at the same time Cutter left the science division. Ross says it’s too dangerous for her to come but she follows him anyway.
  • Ross finds Cutter. Cutter tells Ross he knows him and that he’s a weapon against the teeps. Ross has the power to block without the hood.
  • The other teeps find Honor and destroy Cutter’s mind. She locks the backdoor escape route Cutter revealed, trapping Ross in the building, as the teeps set fire to the masks and the structure.
  • Before she’ll let him out, she wants to read Ross to know the truth.
  • His mission was to use her to try and find out what the teep underground had planned. As he tells her they have to trust each other, she watches the city burn in the riots and we fade to black.


This new series of stories based on classic tales by Philip K Dick kicks off with a morality question: is it right to read people’s minds if you can; or should freedom of thought be guaranteed if you want to shield your memories? That quandary is played out in a tinderbox scenario that sees telepaths (referred to as “teeps”) living in ghettos and shunned by society. The normals are rising up against them, with the help of shielding technology provided by the hood maker of the title.

It’s a premise that should deliver the kind of deep thinking and societal questions Dick’s work is famous for. It works best when it shows the issues that telepathy could lead to. Grainger (who amazingly was in competition with herself, as the second episode of Silk Worm aired the same evening) nails a particularly tense interrogation scene that lays bare her subject’s deepest and darkest secrets – you can see why people might not want such things brought into the light. It’s so brutal Ross refers to it as a “rape” – although there’s a much worse example later in the episode, where the director plays out his awful thoughts into a teep’s mind, forcing her to experience the horror of what he is thinking.

However, while the personal stories of these characters play out well (and a late twist is all the better for that), the wider issues are lost. The conflict is swept away in a series of beatings and rioting that dulls the sci-fi elements a little too much, meaning that once the episode is over you aren’t left with the kind of searching questions this material should cause to bounce around your brain.

Hats off to the production, though. From the green sheen that makes it look like it’s been shot through an old bottle to the weather-beaten world that adds to the feeling that it is on the brink of an uprising, this is confident, competent stuff. All we need now is for the writing to follow.

The Good:

  • We love the episode titles, which promise so much, like Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories – from pregnant men and cloud fish to Dick’s own robotic self.
  • The bit where Honor checks the ‘grapevine’ – a sort of human internet that taps into the knowledge of every other teep.
  • The colourful facial birthmarks that each teep has are a great visual device to separate the two sides.

The Bad:

  • Matthew Graham’s script lacks the wider punch you’d hope such a tale would have.

Review by Matt Chapman

Read all of our Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams reviews

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