Despite there now being two films based on the sci-fi source material we still don't know if androids dream of electric sheep or if they, in fact, do not.

The closest we've got to an answer is a concrete maybe. It depends on whether you subscribe to the theory that Deckard, the dour robot-hunting star of the Blade Runner movies, is a robot himself.

If you do, then you'll be happy knowing that androids dream of unicorns. Unicorns, of course, aren't sheep but hey, close enough. Right?

But if you don't, and you shouldn't, then the question remains one of sci-fi's great unanswered riddles. Any solution you come up with only serving to raise more questions about life and sentience, free will and freedom, and where, exactly, is that line between man and machine, and what happens at the crossroads where all these things collide?


Pleasingly, it's that more cryptic, open to interpretation, vibe that Lightbox's new sci-fi series Electric Dreams is shooting for. The show is anthology style, meaning each episode is self-contained, and, like Blade Runner, they are all based on the short stories of famed sci-fi author Philip K. Dick.

Lightbox has new episodes coming in weekly, but launched the series earlier this week with the first two eps ready to roll. With the eye-popping Blade Runner 2049 currently sitting at number one in our movie charts the timing of this thing really couldn't be better.

I was certainly amped for it. The show had been getting comparisons with the twisty, turny, mind-bending anthologies Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, and that was me sold. I'm fairly hopeless at picking incoming twists and very much enjoy being bamboozled by other people's cleverness.

After two episodes I have to say that those comparisons aren't entirely valid. Neither The Hood Maker or Impossible Planet are trying to catch you out or drop a didn't-see-that-coming bombshell on you.

The stories aren't entirely straightforward, but they're designed to leave you thinking rather than reeling.

Fair enough. I haven't read either of Dick's stories that these two episodes are based on so I have no idea how faithful they are. But Dick wasn't a 'gotcha! twist!' writer, so expecting that from the show is probably unfair. If you go into it wanting that you're gonna come out disappointed.

Instead, these two, at least, are explorations on a theme. Cryptic in ending and open to interpretation. Perhaps, a little too much in the case of Impossible Planet. But I greatly enjoyed the meditative mystery and ambiguity of meaning.

The opening episode, The Hood Maker, is set in a cyber-punk, Blade Runner-esque world. It's dirty and rainy and overcrowded, only this time there's no cool looking, futuristic Japanese style, it's all grotty slums and over developed apartment living.

The story, about a telepath, or "teep" who joins up with a "normie" police officer to investigate a possible teep uprising and the emergence of a mysterious entity distributing ghoulish-looking, telepathic blocking masks. As the story slowly built to its fiery reveal things got suitably creepy as Honour prodded people's minds. It even managed to make the genial sport of fly fishing entirely disturbing...

Impossible Planet, on the other hand, was more your classic sci-fi. Mostly set in one spaceship, two dodgy space tourism workers agree to fly an old lady and her android companion to earth in exchange for an extremely large wad of cash. Fairly straightforward apart from the small snag that earth no longer exists, having been destroyed by solar flares. Not wanting to let the money slip out of their hands they decide to fake it and set off on a journey for the nearest similar looking planet.

Despite the fanciful, off-world setting of space tourism, this story had more humanity and a lot more shades for you to interpret than the series' first episode. It slowly built up to a fully ambiguous ending that - spoiler alert - can be read as either joyous or, alternatively, bleak as heck.

Much as I enjoyed it, the show is not without its faults. Each episode has big name stars but shonky looking sets and effects. Though, I'll admit I did like these, mainly because it reminded me of vintage TV sci-fi.

But the biggest thing is that neither episode hits as hard as you can't help but feel they should. Perhaps because those gotcha! moments aren't.

Unlike the existential terror instilled by the best Black Mirror twist or Twilight Zone turn, Electric Dreams won't cause nightmares or give you any sleepless nights. But it will fill your head with plenty of thoughts to slowly drift away on.