Electric Dreams: Autofac review

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Spoilers for Autofac

Electric Dreams, the sci-if anthology series, based on acclaimed author Philip K Dick’s short stories, returns to our screens with dystopian future tale, Autofac.

“The world’s smartest factory”

To set the scene, Autofac takes place on post-war Earth, sometime in the future, where the remaining humans having colonised. Autofac, a sentient supply and demand factory provides everything struggling humans will need to survive. However, the humans (including Juno Temple’s Emily) revolt against the imperfect system, aiming to shut it down once and for all.

“A representative will be with you within 24 hours”

Hacking into a delivery drone, the humans manage to send a message to Autofac, who dispatches their interface, Alice (Janelle Monae) to discuss their issues.

Despite an impressive cast, including Temple, Monae and David Lyons (ER) Autofac is quite a hollow introduction to the new series. It takes a good fifteen minutes before anything of note happens (it’s really from the introduction of Alice that the story gains any momentum) and while the episode has a couple of genuinely tense moments, they are too sparsely delivered to have anything more than momentary impact.

The main issue is probably that much of what we see here, we’ve seen before. The episode does rely on a lot of familiar sci-fi tropes (outcast humans in a post apocalyptic setting, possibly evil robot overlords, dominating technology).

Sadly, it all feels a little too familiar to be truly engaging. To its credit, Autofac is a beautifully realised tale, visually, conjuring up some beautiful imagery and writer Travis Beacham’s script dies offer some genuinely strong moments such as Alice and Conrad’s first conversation or Emily’s final revelation) but I can’t help but feel this is rather muted storytelling “It’s all just data” Autofac is entertaining enough, but is never the less, unspectacular. To be honest I would have expected a bolder start to the series, but I am hoping things will improve beyond this series’ introduction.