In the near future a wealthy senator combines politics, religion, and virtual reality to create a dangerous authoritarian cult hell-bent on world domination—opposed only by “libertarians.” [ Wild Palms credits: Dir: Peter Hewitt, Keith Gordon, Phil Joanou, Kathryn Bigelow/ James Belushi, Dana Delany, Robert Loggia, Kim Cattrall, Angie Dickinson/ 278 min/ SciFi-Fantasy, Drama/ Power Corrupts, Corrupt Government]
“The Depression this country went through was planned. And the Florida bomb? … No terrorists involved, strictly government. Boca Raton was a premeditated nuclear event that conferred extraordinary new powers on the police…” In this projected future America, a high-tech cult/mafia is operating in league with the government to gain ultimate power by whatever means necessary. And who’s opposing them? Libertarians!
Yes, the “L” word actually gets mentioned here. Opposing the evil “Fathers” are the “Friends,” a group described as “libertarians, obsessed with the Bill of Rights.”
At the center of this sci-fi drama are a wealthy senator and cult evangelist. They are trying to take over the world through Church Windows, a television program that exposes its unwitting viewers to mind-controlling virtual-reality holograms. Everywhere, people are tuning in and falling under Church Windows’ control. However, an underground group of high-tech libertarians calling themselves the “Friends” are out to stop him. Will these heroes succeed before it’s too late? It isn’t clear until the very end.
When Wild Palms was originally released more than two decades ago, it seemed a far-fetched though highly original soap opera. But given current revelations of corruption, Chomsky-level social media attempts to manipulate the truth, behind-the-scenes cooperation of government and media (revealed through Wikileaks), and all that Edward Snowden revealed, the idea of such a future now seems less implausible.
The style of this telling is unusually surreal, dreamlike, and it must be conceded — at times confusing. Nonetheless this five hour ABC miniseries, produced by Oliver Stone, will appeal to sci-fi and conspiracy fans, among whom it already has a considerable following. The music is catchy and Angie Dickinson is superb as an arch-evil power monger. Those particularly sensitive to scenes of violence may occasionally want to use fast-forward.
“You wanted something different? Here it is. And Wild Palms also happens to be terrific.”
–New York Times
“Wild Palms makes Twin Peaks look like Mayberry R.F.D.”
““It’s like Dynasty on peyote. It’s thirtysomething gone to hell. It’s Donna Reed getting stabbed. It’s got everything in it. The Singing Detective. The Prisoner. You name it, it’s in there.”