Just when you thought Electric Dreams couldn’t get any better, the Philip K. Dick adaptation pulls out the big guns: Steve Buscemi.
Crazy Diamond is one of the more confusing tales to come out of the science fiction anthology. On the face of it, tonight’s tale is just one of “Another Woman”, where Buscemi’s honest and bumbling Ed Morris is lured away by the steamy and exciting Jill (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen) who walked on to the scene as a life insurance salesman. However, Ed works for Spirit Mill, creating “Quantum Consciousness” for synthetic beings, which the company affectionately calls “Jacks and Jills”. The factory churns out these new beings on the daily but their purpose is not quite known. Enter Jill, an attractive “bot” who is on the hunt for answers and a new battery before her time runs out. It’s up to her to blackmail Ed into doing criminal things in order to save her life.
That is where the real interest of Crazy Diamond lies. Buscemi’s portrayal of Ed is nothing short of beautiful. This is a man who doesn’t want to get involved in the criminal world, but his caring nature drives him to do what is right. The turmoil that racks his conscience comes through in waves and not only does it hit him, but it hits the viewer who finds themselves wondering what they would do if they were in his position. Is it right that he risked his perfect house with his perfect wife (Sally, played by the fantastic Julia Davis) for the life of a Jill?
Then again, if you’re asking that kind of question, you find yourself asking whether Jills should be made in the first place, or if his perfect life was so perfect in the first place. It’s down to the acting that this instalment becomes more than a love triangle. Knudsen’s manipulative but lovable character becomes irresistible for Ed who makes some truly terrible decisions, resulting in a run-in with criminals so bad, people nearly died.
It’s not an easy episode to stick with, and certainly has its moments, especially where the science fiction aspect becomes overwhelming. It almost didn’t need to go into the deep depths of human genome technology as the real human element of it was potentially the strongest of the series yet. On that note, Crazy Diamond missed the mark by overcomplicating a simple tale. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Contributed by Helen Daly
Electric Dreams Continues Sunday on Channel 4 at 9.00pm