The Herald Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - ALI­SON ROWAT

ABOY and his fa­ther are stand­ing in a river, the older man teach­ing the young­ster to fly-fish. It is a scene of such bu­colic splen­dour it would surely have tickled JR Hart­ley even more than cold call­ing book­sellers while they were hav­ing their tea.

But as the cam­era pans out we see a woman, scarred of face and messy of cloth­ing, stand­ing in the wa­ter and tak­ing in the scene like some hu­man com­puter, sent from the fu­ture to in­ves­ti­gate the past. Wel­come to Elec­tric Dreams (Chan­nel 4, Sun­day, 9pm), the first in a se­ries of Philip K Dick adap­ta­tions which con­firmed what we al­ready knew: the fu­ture is not bright; it is not or­ange; it sucks.

Bryan Cranston, late of Break­ing Bad and as such an ac­tor who knows a bit about what makes a tele­vi­sion hit, is the pro­ducer who has had the bright idea of bring­ing Dick’s ge­nius to the small screen again. With the big screen get­ting ready to do the same with a se­quel to Blade Run­ner, one might say the sadly de­parted writer of Do An­droids Dream of Elec­tric Sheep was hav­ing a mo­ment, but he is never out of fash­ion for long.

The first episode, The Hood Maker, cap­tured a typ­i­cally bleak fu­ture in which telepaths are de­ployed by the state to con­trol the pop­u­la­tion. The peo­ple hate “teeps”, but Agent Ross (Scot­land’s Richard Mad­den) sees them as just an­other tool of the de­tec­tive’s trade, like a cool retro car or a fe­dora. If only some pest wasn’t mak­ing hoods that block telepa­thy, and his teep, played by Hol­l­i­day Grainger, wasn’t quite so lovely. Spe­cial ef­fects-wise, Elec­tric Dreams could have done with a few more bob in the me­ter, but the tal­ent is top drawer, ditto the writ­ing. Roll on the next nine episodes.

We need the fu­ture to suck, if only to rec­on­cile our­selves to the present. Es­pe­cially if we have rocked up to a lux­ury cabin ex­pect­ing a fab­u­lous holiday only to dis­cover the joint is haunted. Such was the predica­ment of a group of pals in Black Lake (BBC Four, Satur­day, 9pm). By the end of episode two every­thing was heat­ing up nicely, in­clud­ing that chilly part in the hall where the door to the cel­lar kept open­ing of its own ac­cord … Pass the nib­bles and let the mad­ness be­gin. In Raploch: Where Are They Now? (BBC Two, Mon­day, 9pm) the cam­eras

re­turned once more to the es­tate on the out­skirts of Stir­ling. With sev­eral vis­its since the orig­i­nal pro­gramme 16 years ago, res­i­dents could be for­given for think­ing they were be­ing haunted by the BBC. In some ways the area had been trans­formed, with nicer homes and a new school, but the fall­out from bad old habits in the shape of drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tions could still be seen.

The stand-out suc­cess story was Ash­ley Cameron. A girl from care, the cards might have fallen one way for Ash­ley, but she had other ideas and now works in the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment to help other chil­dren beat a stacked deck. A young woman to watch.

One would like to think Ms Cameron’s story would have per­suaded Martin Clune’s medic in Doc Martin (STV, Wed­nes­day, 9pm) to turn his chronic frown up­side down. But half the fun to be had in this com­edy-drama stems from the GP’s end­less fury over every­thing from the stu­pid­ity of the lo­cal cop­per to the scruffy mutt who hangs around round his gar­den, hop­ing for a for­ever home. Think of the doc as an early model Frasier Crane, but with a greater ded­i­ca­tion to his so­ciopa­thy. Be­tween the glo­ri­ous Cor­nish set­ting and the not too an­noy­ing lo­cal “char­ac­ters”, you can see why the Doc Martin mix of gen­tle com­edy with slightly dark in­ter­ludes has been ex­ported all over the world. Why, per­haps Brexit won’t be such a flam­ing disas­ter af­ter all. Would W1A (BBC Two, Mon­day,

10pm), the every­day com­edy of BBC folk, work any­where else but in Bri­tain? One sus­pects not. From the An­i­mal Magic theme tune to David Ten­nant’s arch nar­ra­tion, this is a com­edy that is as Bri­tish as bad teeth.

All the gang were back for the third se­ries, hav­ing end­less meet­ings and spout­ing com­plete Jack­son Pol­locks about tar­gets and con­cepts.

This week’s mis­sion was “to iden­tify what the BBC does best and find more ways of do­ing less of it bet­ter”. Oh, and to an­swer a com­plaint from a cross­dress­ing for­mer foot­baller that he had been turned down for a pun­dit spot on Match of the Day out of prej­u­dice. The pro­gramme ed­i­tor, how­ever, said the ex-player had been too dull in a try out. “Too dull for Match of the Day? Je­sus,” said one of the nod­ding heads.

If you turned the sound down for a sec­ond you could just about hear for­mer BBC pro­ducer Ge­orge Or­well turn­ing his grave – for ever.

Scot­tish ac­tor Richard Mad­den plays a gumshoe of the fu­ture, and Hol­l­i­day Grainger his tele­pathic aide, in the first episode of Elec­tric Dreams, Chan­nel 4’s dip into Philip K Dick’s dystopian world

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