US tv miniseries (1993). ABC-TV. Created and written by Bruce Wagner. Executive producers Wagner and Oliver Stone. Six hours. The first two-hour episode "Everything Must Go" directed by Peter Hewitt; the next one-hour episode "The Floating World" directed by Keith Gordon; the next one-hour episode "Rising Sons" directed by Kathryn Bigelow; the next one-hour episode "Hungry Ghosts" directed by Keith Gordon; the last one-hour episode "Hello, I Must Be Going" directed by Phil Joanou. Starring James Belushi, Dana Delany, Robert Loggia, Kim Cattrall, Angie Dickinson, Ernie Hudson and Brad Dourif.
This is the closest US television has got to Cyberpunk, and to hammer the point home William Gibson has a walk-on part as himself. The series is loosely based on a series of comics by Wagner published in Details magazine. The year is around 2007. Harry Wyckoff (Belushi) is a California attorney whose life is turning weird; he keeps seeing a possibly hallucinatory rhinoceros; his son is cold and withdrawn. He joins a group of religious cultists (the "new Realists" who believe in "synthiotics") run by a sinister senator, who has a new media television network that projects holograms ostensibly for entertainment purposes, actually for mind control, with the help of Drugs. Nanochips, the Japanese and conspiracy theories are involved. It is often difficult to separate Virtual Reality from mundane reality. People suffer from image sickness. The whole thing is a paranoid tapestry, saturated in pop culture both contemporary and as projected into the near future, unusually virulent for television (especially the blinding scene), and is somewhere between completely over-the-top comic-strip melodrama and genuinely impressive intensity. It is certainly stranger than any television predecessor, with the possible exception of the cult television series Twin Peaks, which many critics thought it somewhat resembled. Perhaps the outstanding sf television of the 1990s, though there are certainly plot oddities not really cleared up. The series, apparently unedited, is available on videotape. The relevant book is Wild Palms: The Teleplay (1994) by Bruce Wagner. [PN]
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