DIRECTED BY TOM HARPER.
WRITTEN BY PHILIP K DICK (BASED ON THE SHORT STORIES BY)
STARRING TIMOTHY SPALL AS ED JACOBSON.
AIR DATE 12TH JANUARY 2018
Production and design.
The Commuter is so vastly different from the two previous episodes that I have watched in Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. This feels a little bit more tangible, more realistic to the sights I see everyday living in England. The suburbs look dangerous, the train station is sterile and cold, you view life is in its most basic form. Maybe this is a dystopian view of England, maybe the World, that is hard not to think about in the times we share today. Me personally, it’s not all doom and gloom, but this view of England works very well to create the atmosphere and set the scene for this part of the story.
On the flip-side to that is Macon Heights, somewhere high up in the rolling hills of the countryside, clean, fresh and friendly. Again, kudos to the designers of the show for demonstrating the vast difference between the countryside and inner-city life in modern England. I don’t know what visual/special effects were used to create Macon Heights, but in one scene you see the buildings are actually one-sided for the shot. This reminded me of the old western television studio sets of the 1940s and it was faultless. All in all, I was really impressed with the look and feel of this episode. Some beautiful shots that are still circulating in my brain today.
The story follows Ed Jacobson (Timothy Spall) A train station worker who looks to be a little bit downtrodden in life. While he is working, a mysterious young woman (Tuppence Middleton) is trying to buy a ticket for Macon Heights. Ed explains to her that there is no a destination by that name, suddenly she disappears. Returning home from work that evening he finds a police car parked outside his house. Ed’s son, Sam is going through some kind of emotional trouble that is starting to become a much bigger issue within the family. Ed’s relationship with his wife is also unravelling because of his reluctance to deal with the problems they are beginning to face.
Back at work and the commuter is back, still talking about Macon Heights and again disappearing from the scene! Ed starts to become deeply curious about this destination and eventually that curiosity leads him right to it. Macon Heights is a town where problems never seem to occur, not only that, the tea tastes better and the cake is free.
After a few visits to the town and some obscure moments happening in his life, Ed realises that this paradise is not meant for him and he wants to return home. The commuter, who is now present explains to him that this is the life he has always dreamed off. Ed explains that “Dreaming is not the same as wishing it’s true” Ed returns to the normality of life that awaits him, not only that he manages to find the love he remembered for his family.
The story was really a breath of fresh air and it really hit a nerve with me. I’m a little bit unsure if this is science-fiction or another genre altogether? The biggest thing I get from this story is that reminds me of trauma. I guess there are times when you are in a situation in life that you have no control over and your brain creates an alternative but unrealistic scenario to help deal with that problem. What if the problem you are dealing with is way too much to cope with and you start to believe in that alternative reality too much? Is the beginning of a serious mental health issue in itself? I like that Ed turns his back on Macon Heights and all it provides and returns home. It’s not going to be easy but you can’t avoid reality.
I do like to try and work out what Philip K. Dick was thinking about when he wrote this; I think he is saying that people can create their own version of paradise in their minds but unfortunately to survive, you can’t stay there forever. During the episode, you have little flashbacks of his family throughout the good times and it’s those times that make life worthwhile. There are real-life stories today concerning mental health that makes this tale seem a normality, which is quite concerning. I love it when a story can come along and remind you of that. That’s why I’m starting to enjoy the works of Philip K.Dick, he isn’t just a science-fiction writer, he is looking for answers to his own life and his place in the universe as well. I give this 10 out of 10 Dicks.
Anyway thank you for reading and if you would like to read my previous episode review, you can find it in the Philip K Dick Vault below. Hopefully, you will come back for episode 4 of Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams.