Review of 'Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams' 1.7 The Father Thing
Dick from Space
The 1950s were invaded with science fiction in which entities from outer space arrived here and took over the bodies of human beings. Invasion of the Body Snatchers — made into a movie at least three times (1956 and 1978 by that name, and again in 1996 as just Body Snatchers) and many more times as riffs on the same story with different names — is the best-known iconic template for that tale. It was good to see it back again in "The Father Thing," episode 1.7 of Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, standalone stories all streaming on Amazon Prime, which I've been reviewing here one at a time.
"The Father Thing" tells us this story from the perspective of a boy whose father has been taken over by an alien from space. Written and directed by Michael Dinner (Justified) from Philip K. Dick's 1954 story "The Father-Thing," "The Father Thing" without the hyphen nonetheless has an appealing 1950s flavor, with a Twilight Zone ambience and a Stranger Things wrap-up — as the boy and then his friends in effect become freedom fighters — which brings the story into the present in terms of what we're seeing these days on television. Indeed, that and the hashtag #RESIST and video-chatting, plus the use of the word "dick" in several pivotal places (such as when the son refers to the invaders as "dicks from space"), are about the only concessions The Father Thing makes to 2018.
It's not surprising that Dick the writer partook of this theme, since the question of whether the man is my father or an alien who has commandeered his body is another version of is it real or my imagination, this or that dimension, which all but consumed Philip K. Dick. But Dick and now Dinner do an especially good job at telling this story, melding the angst of the son with the beginning of a coming of age story for him. Good work by Greg Kinnear as the father thing, Mireille Enos as the mother, and Jack Gore (Billions) as the son. Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams episodes continue to have excellent performances by big name and lesser known actors.
About the author
Paul Levinson's novels include The Silk Code & The Plot To Save Socrates; his LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up. His nonfiction including Fake News in Real Context, The Soft Edge, & Digital McLuhan have been translated into 15 languages.