Posted by: markfender | December 8, 2015

Man in the High Castle

Well, this was on.

man-in-the-high-castleMan in the High Castle is yet another thing based on a Philip K. Dick story, because Hollywood has only ever heard of one sci-fi author.

It’s a good thing Philip K. Dick is pretty good. Not that this series has much relation to the way Philip K. Dick actually wrote (stay tuned), but that’s pretty typical also. So, we’re dealing with a 1960s alternate timeline where the Axis won WWII. This is fairly well-realized, from German architecture to the variations on holidays. There were several nice touches, like the hospitals burning the terminally ill, or the Japanese occupiers’ obsession with collecting American antiques.

We’re treated to a story about the resistance, mysterious films, and Nazi interrogation methods. So, it’s another in a long line of spy shows that seem to be hot right now.

The problem of course being that there are better spy shows than this one. If you wanted some high-stakes action, you’d be better off going with Person of Interest. Because Man in the High Castle is not taking that approach. It’s more in the style of Le Carre, with its slow, paced escalation. Unfortunately, The Americans is better at that style than this is. Hell, even Turn is more entertaining. Because Man in the High Castle is slowwww….

Perhaps too slow. Besides the superfluous subplots that will maybe unspool in later seasons, there’s barely any sci-fi elements. Only the last two episodes start making the weirdness explicit, and they barely touch it. In fact, the last scene reminded me too much of a similar scene in Heroes, which is never a good recommendation (The similar racial background of the principals in both scenes is also an unfortunate similarity).

So, yeah. It’s pretty to look at. The acting is decent. Some of alt-historical details are cool. But it’s not all that engaging. You’d be better off going with a different spy show (And, please, make it The Americans because that show is amazing).

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