Amazon is holding another round of new series auditions. Currently thirteen series are all vying for spots to become one of the new shows picked up by the Amazon Instant Video service. From the looks of the last two Amazon Pilot Seasons only two shows were picked up each time, so that may be the case this time around.
We watched The Man in the High Castle, it being the only on genre offering in this round. Written in 1962 by Philip K. Dick The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history novel. In this reality, set 15 years after the revised end of World War 2, the Axis powers were triumphant and have divided up the former United States (and the rest of the world) between Germany and Japan. It won a Hugo Award in 1963.
We loved the opening title sequence by Elastic (http://www.artofthetitle.com/studio/elastic/) that give you a succinct background of how the world is set up in this series.
The oppressive atmosphere of the novel is intact in this TV drama does an excellent job of portraying what America could have looked like had we lost the war. The vintage sets created for the show reflect the divergent path technology and basic architecture would have taken as well. Set designer Brenda Meyers-Ballard (Breaking Bad and Doogie Howser MD) deserves a lot of credit for the unique look of the episode.
I don’t want to spoil any of the story so I will not go into a retelling of what you will see on screen, but the characters are given good background set ups and the actors did a fine jobs in their roles. We especially liked Michael Rispoli (Kickass) who plays a resistance organizer and Alexa Davalos was excellent as an unwitting player in the cloak and dagger operations that are at work against the occupation forces.
We hope this gets picked up for a full season, the pilot was very promising and took the subject matter seriously even if they took liberties with the original source novel. Some of the storylines for characters have been changed. They even renamed and rearranged the relationships of some of the key players. We really won’t know how different the story is from the book until they get into the meat of the show. Though the novel and movie may differ, so far this looks like a great telling of Phillip K Dick’s vision. We want to see more, we want to know more, and we are involved with the story already.