Just watched the pilot for Amazon’s ‘Man In the High Castle.’

Short version: Hollywood seems to have this weird thing going where they adapt Philip K Dick stories into films and shows that are not bad, but also not really faithful adaptations, either. The Man in the High Castle seems to be in that vein, although the farther along it gets in the pilot the more stuff from Dick appears. It’s worth at least a look.

Synopsis of the plot: alternate history, Germans/Japanese win World War II somehow, manage to occupy the Americas without being slaughtered by the locals and/or turning the continental United States into a lunar wasteland, yadda yadda, Hollywood really does love that One Big Bomb shorthand*. It’s 1961, Hitler is about to die, there’s a Resistance, the country is split down the middle with the Rocky Mountains as neutral ground, again, yadda yadda. I started off thinking that maybe the producers wanted to actually do a TV series version of The Divide, which is a functional enough alternate history “Axis-partition” potboiler, but they knew that nobody remembers that one and everybody remembers The Man in the High Castle. But, again, the farther along you get the more like the book the pilot gets. Including a pilot plot twist I remembered about five minutes before they showed it to me.

So, is it worth your time? …I think so, particularly if you like Philip K Dick (I assume that you’re used to Hollywood fiddling with his books a lot by now). It’s up for consideration for a full season, strictly speaking – I imagine that it will have a good shot at it, considering that the voting pool is very geek-friendly – and if it does do so you’ll get full access to it via Amazon Prime, apparently.  So, hey, already paid for. The acting itself is… professional: I’m not in love with the show, but I did vote for it and so forth; I can see myself catching the rest of it.

Moe Lane

*Look, I’m not saying that the Germans and Japanese couldn’t have conquered the United States in World War II.  I am saying that dropping the Bomb on Dizzy City wouldn’t have broken our spirit**; it would have just pissed us off.  And that neither country had our peculiar genius at logistics, which is why we were able to fight on their turf and not the other way around.  But, to be fair, Hollywood is (theoretically) there to tell stories, not provide detailed sociological surveys.

**Any more than dropping the Bomb on Tokyo or Berlin in 1943 would have broken their spirits.  Hiroshima and Nagasaki had the effect that they did on the Imperial Japanese psyche because the Japanese had been telling themselves We will trade our cities for an ocean of American blood until they give up and go home and our response was No, we will erase your cities at no cost to us until you give up. Put another way: one bomb on DC would have worked only if the rest of the Eastern Seaboard was a smoking mess of conventionally bombed-out ruins.

4 thoughts on “Just watched the pilot for Amazon’s ‘Man In the High Castle.’”

  1. I’ll give it a shot and see if I like it. Couple other shows look promising too.
    Also, love that they already greenlighted Bosch, set to have the entire season released next month. The Prime pilot was awesome (perfect casting and great acting), but it helps that I love the Harry Bosch detective novels already.

  2. Put another way: one bomb on DC would have worked only if the rest of the Eastern Seaboard was a smoking mess of conventionally bombed-out ruins.
    Harry Turtledove recently had a novel (In the Presence of Mine Enemies) and a short story (“The Last Article”)set in a world in which the United States stayed out of World War II; as a result, Nazi Germany had the bomb and we didn’t, so they nuked us in the Seventies and the Eastern Seaboard was a mess of bombed-out ruins. It’s been many years since I’ve read The Man in the High Castle, but didn’t that have a similar scenario? I recall that the assassination attempt on FDR had been successful; did Dick mention American neutrality during WWII? When were we conquered? (Obviously before 1961, but could it have been around 1950?)

    1. FDR assassination, followed by the usual John Nance Garner character assassination (and Wikipedia says that Dick assumed an isolationist would have been elected in 1940). In reality, of course, Garner was nobody’s fool; the Depression would have probably ended a year or two earlier, because FDR couldn’t help but mess with the economy; and Wendell Wilkie was perfectly capable of fighting a goram war.

  3. I….. don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Philip K. Dick. I shall have to rectify that.

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