WILD PALMS FEATURE
television event of the year’. ‘Event’ was also the word the American network ABC used when launching Wild Palms in the States earlier this year. For a self-confessed mini-series, Wild Palms makes no bones about its aspirations for ‘epic’ status.
lts anti-hero, Senator Tony Kreutzcr (Robert Loggia) is three parts L. Ron Hubbard, laced with a shot of Rupert Murdoch, a dash of Ronald Reagan and a smidgeon of Oedipus. Stone and Wagner obviously want Kreutzer to be a credible future villain, an extension of 90s Republican corporate religion moguls, but mostly he’s a helluva fun guy. A sometime science-fiction writer from the 60s (the Hubbard bit). Kreutzer founded the Mimecom corporation to research developments in ‘neural-electronic interfaces’. ie plugging the brain and nervous system directly into synthetic electronic worlds. By 2007 Kreutzer is ready to unveil the domestic applications of his research: TV programmes that are beamed hologrammatically into the living-room. and sitcom characters that can (with the aid of a designer drug called Mimczine) be touched and felt. As one acolyte puts it, Kreutzer is flogging ‘a new improved reality, created by Mimecom and sold straight out of 7-Eleven.’
SO FAR SO COOL (although the new technology can’t make the sitcom gags of 2007 any less feeble). Trouble is, Kreutzer has a rather nasty little hidden agenda behind his guise of philanthropic showman. The creator of the widespread new religion ofSynthiotics or ‘New Realism’ (a mixture of technological gobbledygook and Japanese Samurai Bushido philosophy) Kreutzer has extended his power through a shadowy right-wing organisation called ‘The Fathers’, a ruthless alliance of corporate interests, political reactionaries and religious fundamentalists. Rumour has it that The Fathers even contrived a nuclear disaster in 1997 in order to bring about national panic and subsequent extension of restrictive police powers.
lnevitably The Fathers have their left-wing counterparts, a radical libertarian grouping styling themselves The Friends, led by embittered political prisoner Eli Leavitt whose son Chickie is the ‘Einstein of Virtual Reality’ (to Kreutzer’s P.T. Barnum). A shabby bunch of
g 60s-tinged idealists, The Friends hide in tunnels
beneath LA or in the lawless inner-city Wilderzone, emerging occasionally to engage in surprisingly competent exchanges of machine-gun fire.
A familiar enough future dystopian tale then; sinister capitalist conspirators trying to enslave the world with new technology and addictive drugs, faced by a bunch of any longhairs armed
only with self-loading sWild Palms is automatics and a few Bob a brilliant Dylan songs. Stone s
accident, a layer-cake oi
obsessions with the 60s counter-culture are all over Wild Palms, from the
.re§onances records playing in the Intricacy and background, to the Imagination empty-gesture politics. that is less, but the anachronistic
attitudes are thankfully never allowed to get a firm grip. There’sjust too much else going on, and the fact that Wild Palms is purportedly so close in 93’
and so much
more than its creators intended.’
Who’s Who in Wild Palms
A user’s guide to the dramatis personae in LA 2007.
I Senator Tony Kreutzer (Robert Loggia) The founder of Synthiotics, owner of Mimecom Corp and Presidential aspirant, Kreutzer is the power-crazed visionary behind The Fathers, and in the best tradition of megalomaniac baddies, he wants complete power and immortality.
I Josie Ito (Angie Dickinson) Psychopathic sister of Tony and former wife of Eli Leavitt, she’s the main instigator (and occasional perpetrator) of Fathers-sanctioned violence.
I Harry Wyckoﬂ (Jim Belushi) A confused patent attorney recruited by Kreutzer to head the Wild Palms TV division, Wyckoff is subject to disturbing dreams as his family becomes dragged into the Synthiotics conspiracy.
I Ell leavitt (David Warner) Academic, free— thinker and leader of the Friends, Leavitt is determined to resist the increasing political domination of The Fathers. His English accent conﬁrms his profound decency.
I Coty Wyckott (Ben Savage) Son of Grace . and Harry (or is he?), Coty is the Synthiotics heir apparent, and the sugary star of the Mimecom holographic sitcom . Church. Windows. Makes Damien from The Omen look like Little Orphan Annie.
I Paige Kat: (Kim Cattrall) Harry’s old ﬂame, and a high-ranking Synthiotics agent, Paige is being groomed as consort for Kreutzer’s Presidential campaign, but her loyalty is about to be tested.
I Grace worn}? Delany) Daughter of
Josie Ito and Eli Leavitt and wife of Harry,
Grace is a contented mother and fashion retailer until she begins to discover the full scale of her parents’ rivalry.
I Chickie Leavitt (Brad Dourif). Son of Eli, Chickie is a computer genius, crippled by The Fathers. With Japanese collaborators he met in the Virtual Reality ‘Web’ he has formulated the ‘Go’ chip, an electronic circuit that can plug direct into the human neural system. Kreutzer is rather keen to get his hands on it. '
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The List 5-18 November 1993 7