Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wild Palms

I remember Dorkland telling me about it, but I never watched it.

"It's cyberpunk," he told me.

Truth be told, I had forgotten all about it up until just recently when someone on Twitter referenced it. Looking into it more, Don't know why I never made a point to see it when it first ran. It's got all the hallmarks of a winner. Maybe it's because I had just graduated college, left my favorite place on Earth, and had absolutely no idea where I was going or what I would do.

That tends to distract you.

Anyway, Wild Palms was a miniseries that aired on ABC in 1993. It was produced by Oliver Stone and jam-packed with stars like Jim Belushi, Dana Delaney, and Bebe Neuwirth, and directors like Kathryn Bigelow and Phil Joanou (Rattle and Hum). The miniseries was based on a comic strip that ran in Details magazine, thus making it all the stranger that I didn't watch  as I used to read Details religiously.

The story itself was about what happens when the politically powerful can employ mass media technology, especially virtual reality, to manipulate the populace. What's scary is that this 1993 miniseries is set in the year 2007 and in more than a few ways it predicts the social realities of that year...and now. There are camps of far right-wingers calling themselves the "Fathers" who are opposed by Libertarian-types carrying the moniker of "Friends." The battleground is the mass media. Tossed into this mix are plots to become living holograms and a cult-like religion called Syntheiotics that is most unambiguously based on Scientology, promising empyreal dreams to the wealthy and gullible. Oh and vicious, sociopathic child TV stars.

Want to know what makes my missing it all the more mind-boggling? There's a cameo by William Gibson. Here it is:

"And they won't let me forget it."

Best of all is Belushi's line in reaction to Syntheiotics: "I don't dig bad science fiction."

I'm going through other YouTube clips of the miniseries as I can't seem to find Wild Palms on Netflix or anywhere else for that matter. There are scenes of Ben Savage giving a positively chilling performance as a psychotic child star. Indeed it seems that this owes more to works of David Lynch such as Twin Peaks than sci-fi proper. That's not a bad thing if the weirdness is delicious.

If somebody can locate me a full version of Wild Palms online, hit me up.

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