Ok so that was one of the weirdest hours of television I’ve seen in a very long time. ‘Crazy Diamond’ was like a bizarre dream that made sense, as long as you let it take you on it’s crazy ride. It’s also the first of the episodes that is almost 100% different from the short story that inspired it, Sales Pitch from 1953.
‘Crazy Diamond’ is definitely the most jam-packed episode of the series so far. There are AI, spliced pig humans, sheep with weird faces, not to mention weird punk rock criminals and a slowly eroding coastline. The main plot of the episode revolves around Steve Buscemi’s Ed and his dreams of getting away from it all on his boat. This is one of the few similarities with the book, the character of Ed wants to escape in that too, only it’s to escape the oppressive adverts and not coastal erosion.
Ed’s world is flipped upside down by the arrival of a Jill (an android in this world) who wants him to help her pull off a daring heist. The show makes clear before Jill’s arrival that things are not ok in Ed’s life. One thing is how all of his fruit and vegetable keep going off, noting is built to last in this world. A really cool detail that makes the world seem extraordinarily bizarre is the shot of a really, really creepy sheep with a human face. I hope I wasn’t the only one to notice this bizarre detail.
The episode is probably about 90% style and performances. The story is there, but it’s not quite as gripping as in other weeks. But the style and performances are phenomenal. Steve Buscemi and Sidse Babette Knudsen are excellent as the meek dreamer and the dying android respectively. And the episode is possibly the best one yet, visually. I love the noir style, the colours, the slightly goofy way the action is sped up. But that’s almost it, there isn’t much in the way of substance.
In comparison to the previous episodes, ‘Crazy Diamond’ is an anomaly when it comes to comparison to the original story. So far the writers have taken and tweaked things for the better, to add depth. But here writer Tony Grisoni has completely changed the original story, there isn’t really anything left except the names. I also think it’s the first one so far in which the short story has more depth and substance than the episode.
The story is originally about Ed, a man sick and tired of the ads that are literally forced into his head on his commute home from Ganymede to Earth, and then the ad robots when he gets back. It’s a wonderful comment on the ad industry, and feels way ahead of it’s time. If anything it’s more relevant now in 2017. In the story Ed is terrorised in an over-the-top farcical way by a new robot, a farsad, in an effort to sell it’s services to him. I won’t spoil how it ends, but you should check it out here. It’s my favourite of the Philip K. Dick short stories I’ve read, and as much as I enjoyed ‘Crazy Diamond’ and its world of gene-splicing, I can’t help wondering if a more faithful adaptation wouldn’t have been even better.
‘Crazy Diamond’ is a very enjoyable hour of television, even if it mostly is for the performance and visuals. But that’s not say there isn’t some intriguing ideas around the ideas of AI and gene-splicing. But the show contains so many ideas that it can’t possibly cover them all.
On it’s own it would be a really great episode, but it’s a shame that they didn’t go more in line with the original story. I think the theme of consumerism would fit so much better, especially in the world today.
Next week it’s Terrence Howard! Yay?
Reviewed by Jack