7-DAY TV GUIDE
PLUS ALISON ROWAT’S REVIEW AND FILMS OF THE WEEK
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