The Hood Maker
9pm, Channel 4. Directed By Julian Jarrold. Written By Matthew Graham based on the short story by Phillip K. Dick. First Aired 17/09/2017.
IMDB Summary: In a world without advanced technology, mutant telepaths have become humanity’s only mechanism for long distance communication. But their powers have unintended implications. When the public begin to embrace mysterious, telepath-blocking hoods, two detectives with an entangled past are brought in to investigate.
(Warning If you have not seen the episode, there are a few minor spoilers in this review)
I have been excited about this series since I found out about it just under a month ago, and it has finally hit our screens with a bang! I enjoy anything to do with science fiction, but I was especially excited about this, party to see how an anthology of short stories would translate on-screen (really well apparently!), and secondly to see one of the most influential science fiction writers of our time have his works brought to life on the small screen! (Although, as some of you may know, his works are no stranger to the screen in general, with films like Blade Runner and Total Recall originating from his writing). This show landed on TV spectacularly with the opening credits summing up all the creepy wonder we can expect to see over the next ten weeks. Phillip K. Dick is a master at writing the weird and wonderful, the creepy and the downright disturbing, as you can see by the show’s trippy cover image shown at the top of this post, and The Hood Maker was no stranger to this.
First off, I really enjoyed the social politics behind this episode, the idea of the telepaths and the morality that comes with that. The idea that your mind and closest secrets can be read so easily by whoever wants information from you, really intrigued me and I enjoyed thinking about what consequences that could bring. This episode is a comment on our world today, a world of sharing your life with the public through online media. I have been a fan of how Phillip K. Dick uses science fiction to comment on social issues, and this show really managed to capture that. His stories are always so thought-provoking, and they make you consider views and ideas that you may never have thought about before now, and The Hood Maker isn’t any different.
The casting of the episode was great! Each actor/actress seemed to fit into their role perfectly, and it’s great to see that they have got so many big names getting involved, such as Richard Madden in this episode (Game of Throne’s Robb Stark) and Benedict Wong in next week’s episode (Doctor Strange’s Wong).
The imagery was stunning! The landscape so beautifully cyberpunk! The heavy rain, the grey buildings, its like all of the colour has been sucked out of the world. The brightest thing on-screen was Honor’s scars, and that really says something about where this show was going. The aesthetics of this story really reminded me of Blade Runner (which is also based on a Phillip K. Dick story; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), and it had that eery quality that gave a creepy layer to the element of mystery in the show.
The most striking thing that I found interesting was how it seemed to really relate to the Phillip K. Dick short story I have read; Ubik, where telepaths (precogs) and blockers (inertials) are an established force in the world. I’m not sure if there is a reason for this or not, or if it is a prequel to the idea, but if any of you know anything about that, please let me know in the comments below as I’d love to find out.
I enjoyed this show and it’s idea that there is a world without any kind of technology, where humans have evolved to be telepathic to create their own modes of communication… until the end. I hate open endings, I really want to know what happened now… they can’t leave it there… but they did… now I feel all empty inside. But I did like the message behind the ending, the way that none of us can ever tell what their partner is feeling (even if minds can be read). That the complications of the human heart are too heard to understand even for a telepath.
How would you have liked to see the episode end? Let me know in the comments below.
I found it great that they included a romance into what was essentially a sci-fi cyberpunk, but I would have liked a happy ending (even if If I should know better, we don’t really get them with Phillip K. Dick).
Finally I need to comment on that scene of the telepath uprising against the hood maker. It was creepy and visually stunning at the same time. The way they pulled apart the wires to get to him, to make him pay for all he has done. And if we are talking about striking scenes, I loved the scene in the telepath’s bedroom, where they all shared the nightmare that one of their peers was suffering through.We could see how connected they all were to each other, like a family all fighting a single cause and trying to find their place in the world.
Altogether this was a strong start to the series! So I give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️.
I have taken one star for the ending, and one just basically because the subject matter of The Hood Maker wasn’t a favourite of mine, but that is just a matter of personal taste. That’s the great thing about this series, with each week being a completely different story, there is bound to be something to cater for everyone in the end, and next week’s episode seems more like something I would love, as I have a passion for anything set in space.
Tune into Channel 4 at 9pm next week for the next instalment of Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams; Impossible Planet. See the trailer below.