THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, TV Review
So…. who is the man in the high castle? Philip K. Dick, of course.
As a literary force, Mr. Dick accomplished things great and plentiful. However, many of the studios creating movies based on his material lacked the vision… the sheer mania to capture his body of work. Too many of his stories have been turned into commercial, one-liner-spewing explosion festivals. Look them up, the same damage in short-comings has been done to Stephen King’s literature. Attention people in charge of cinematic decisions: TRUST THE WRITER RESPONSIBLE FOR CREATING THE MATERIAL.
In this case, Amazon Studios rocked it. I’ll warn you ahead of time, like much of Mr. Dick’s stories… the big twist doesn’t pay off until the very end. Shyamalan-esque, to those younger than 40. There’s not a lot to feel good about and the levels of paranoid dystopia are staggering compared to the tameness of popular works today. Now, let’s take a look at why The Man in the High Castle might (or might not) be for you. First and foremost, there’s no way around the biggest thing holding TMITHC back… the network where it can be found. Amazon knows this, everyone knows this. You have to be an Amazon Prime (I think) member to be able to stream the series through your smart TV, gaming console, or device. Any time it’s more complicated than turn it on and watch, you lose some boobs. It’s true, it’s the world we live in. Hell, I almost passed on it as a horror TV show to review for this reason. If you have Prime and have a smart device, you’re golden.
Now, onto the nitty-gritty hara-kiri.
The acting is strong, believable. Alexa Davalos (Julia), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Tagomi-san), and Rufus Sewell (John Smith) are the real standouts. The rest are great, but these folks ramp it up to a grand scale that would make Papa Dick happy. The screenplay adaptation kicks ass, making you feel as though all hope has checked into Hotel MILITARY OCCUPATION. Side note: A creepy aspect of the show is that many parallels Philip K. Dick drew post-World War 2 are now reality in today’s world of homeland security and mega-police business… not as a result of Japanese and German victory in World War 2. Therefore, it’s also relatable on many levels. The plot’s a subtle, slow-burning fuse. I came at the show TV only, ignoring past knowledge of the tale. Early on I asked, “So what if there’re contraband films in existence showing a better life in America before the occupation. It wasn’t so long ago that those who lost the war couldn’t remember. It’s like 1960 at the latest.”
Well, I was wrong.
The big twist is so wicked it makes you want to watch the whole season again. Trust me, without the shocker at the end you’d be too depressed to watch twice. I can’t wait for season two.
We r belong to PKD.
If you like drama set in American life, war dramas, alternate history, and dystopia you’ll be hooked. If you don’t like war and the realism that peace has always been a illusion, you should steer clear. The only deduction I had to make in my scale of points (1 to 5, 5 being perfect) was the cost to viewers. I dream of the day content repackaging providers die and allow internet consumers full control of what we watch and pay for, until then Prime requirements will keep great shows such as this (and Hulu’s 11-22-63) a bit of a secret from the boob-masses.
4.3 out of 5 Great Cthulhus!
Oh, if you’re up for a little fun at the end, desperate for a happy place… plug in a few modern nations instead of Japan and Germany. Try China and North Korea or Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Yeah, that’ll cheer you up. Until then, remember that it’s Women in Horror Month and I’ll have a special piece before my next TV review.
Oh yeah, it’s only hara-kiri if you leave a red puddle before they lop your head off with a samurai sword.