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'Wild Palms' predicted the future in 1993. Too bad no one was watching.

Bruce Wagner and Oliver Stone's ABC mini-series foretold Trump, VR, the creep of corporations into politics, and the end of reality as we know it.

In 1993, ABC aired a five part, ambitious mini-series called Wild Palms. The show — based on a comic from the pages of Details magazine by Bruce Wagner, and produced by Oliver Stone — was a sprawling treatise on polarized politics, hallucinogenic drugs, religion, and the rise of technology.

The show was unlike anything ever put on American television and was lauded by critics. To the surprise of the network... it was a commercial disaster.

“It’s the kind of show that would have instantly birthed a cult, had Twitter and the Web been around to support one.”

Alex Pappademas, writing about 'Wild Palms' for Grantland

Both the comic and the show tackled heady topics, focusing in particular on ultra-polarized politics (in the world of Wild Palms, it's the Fathers versus the Friends, as opposed to Republicans and Democrats). In Wild Palms, the Fathers are a political and religious cult, led by the egomanical Senator Kreutzer. He's an old, heavily tanned sexual predator who thinks the path to the American populace is good TV ratings. Sound familiar?

The show viewed technology through a critical lens, positing a future where the rich and powerful could manipulate the media, public opinion, and the political sphere simply by wielding their patented new platform and having good talking points. The mirror to our current dystopia is striking.


The show was so laden with plot and obscure references that ABC set up a hotline — 1-900-773-WILD — to help viewers catch up on the previous night’s episode.

With so much of Wild Palms centered around virtual reality, Japanese culture (a major plot point is the “Go chip,” which could hypothetically make the recipient immortal), and the quickening mergers of governments and corporations, it was only natural that Neuromancer author William Gibson pops up in the first episode in a cameo.

If you want to watch it right now (and trust me, you do), there are only a few not-so-great options. You can buy the DVD release of the show and scrounge up a player, or you can find a version floating around on the torrent site of your choice. However, on June 30 everything changes. Kino Lorber is releasing a remastered HD version on Blu-ray, which also includes commentary from the directors and stars of the show, as well as writer Bruce Wagner. A red-letter moment for Wild Palms fanatics.


The day you can finally watch 'Wild Palms' in glorious HD

Kino Lorber

So that means you'll get to see this little charmer in his full brilliance...


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