Something to watch tonight: Thursday 4 January
The Peripheral (2022)
Today’s recommendation diverges a little bit from my usual pattern.
Firstly, it’s not a whole-hearted recommendation. It’s an eight-episode season that starts out hot but then runs out of gas at the end.
Secondly, it ends with a cliffhanger but there is already confirmation that the show has been cancelled so those questions are likely to remain forever unanswered – unless another streamer picks it up which seems unlikely in the current environment.
Thirdly, it’s dystopian-future fiction and I have mentioned before in this newsletter how tiresome I am finding them.
But – and it’s a big but – The Peripheral is based on a superb novel by the great William Gibson whose work has been notoriously difficult to transfer to the screen. Gibson himself approved of this one and felt optimistic that the remaining books in the Jackpot trilogy (including Agency and another book yet to be completed) would be well served by this adaptation.
Curses, foiled again.
The strength of the show is that it follows Gibson’s method of not bothering to explain anything. He describes, you pay attention, and eventually things start to become clear. Or they become less confusing. But he – and the show – build their worlds with a respectable thoroughness and refuse to spoon-feed you. They treat you like an adult.
Set in a near-future Appalachia, Chloë Grace Moretz plays Flynne, a young woman with a facility for playing virtual reality video games which – like many in her impoverished part of the world – she does for pitiful amounts of money.
When she takes on a contract intended for her ex-military brother Burton (Jack Reynor) to trial a brand new headset she finds herself in a superbly realistic portrayal of a future London and embroiled in a plot to steal some important technology.
It turns out that she’s not in a simulation but instead the headset is a portal to a possible future and that she’s actually piloting a human-resembling device (or peripheral) and that the plot she’s involved with is as dastardly as it is complicated.
We were disappointed that this one was cancelled as – despite the flat ending to season one – it had heaps of potential and were curious about where it was heading.
I guess I’ll just have to wait for Gibson’s third book now.
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