The Man in the High Castle

Every now and then releases a few pilot episodes of various genres. The viewership then gets to decide which of the few episodes will continue as a whole series. I like this way of “television” for several reasons (of course this does not only apply to Amazon but similar ventures as well - like Netflix or Hulu):

  1. Amazon does not adhere to a classic tv schedule, meaning that all episodes will be made available at the same date, once the series is completely filmed. Perfect for someone like me who likes to binge watch a whole season on a weekend or two.
  2. Since Amazon operates a global business there are seldom any geographic restrictions in place. Meaning I can watch the same shows as my friends in the US without the need of any VPN hacks to circumvent country specific blocking.
  3. I like the idea that the decision which shows will get a chance as a whole season are made somewhat democratic. Even though the final decision is likely being made somewhere in Amazon’s management I feel more involved in the process.

This time around Amazon decided to go with a more dystopian kind of show:

The Man in the High Castle

The shows is based on Philip K. Dick’s acclaimed novel of the same name which portraits life in what once was the United States of America, after the Allied Forces have been defeated in World War II.

Much has been made of the involvement of Ridley Scott in the project. But really, there is not much to say on the subject other than it shows. The use of CGI (which is obviously necessary for scenes in which the whole Times Square is filled with Nazi propaganda) is heavy and really completes the whole dark tune and scenery of the show. (Fittingly Scott was just awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Visual Effects Society.)

Arguably the setting is one if not the most intriguing aspect of the show. After the loss of WWII due to a nuclear strike of the Nazi Forces, the continent of North America is partitioned in a Japanese sector and a Nazi sector with a small neutral zone in between.

In the pilot we meet two protagonists: Joe Blake (by Luke Kleintank) who tries to join the underground resistance against the Nazi occupation of the east coast and Juliana (by Alexa Davalo) who is sort of dragged in the whole resistance movement after Japanese forces kill her sister.

The acting - not only of the two, but the support characters as well - is on a top notch level, although not yet on par with shows like House of Cards. Which is ok, since I assume everyone involved in the project has yet to figure out where the journey will be going.

The pilot episode already hints at a few major plot twists on their way. I do not want to spoil the show here, in case you have not watched it yet. It remains unclear though how the different twists are connected - if at all.

I guess the show can really only fail in two ways:

  • The pilot clearly lives of moments of “cultural shock” (for lack of a better word). It is strangely interesting to see people pay with Reichsmark in an American Diner or having Times Square littered with Nazi propaganda. But that effect can only last so long. Once it fades the plot will have to up its game to keep the viewership entangled.

  • The alluded plot twist seem interesting at first and really fire up the viewers imagination. But it is also possible that none of them turns out to be as spectacular as hoped for or on the other extreme way to far fetched (which I guess is hard to manage, giving the shows setting).

Summing things up here I think that the show has a huge potential for success. Which is why I voted for the show on Amazon and encourage you to do the same here.

UPDATE: Amazon has recently published a press release stating that they ordered a full season of the show !