Thursday, November 26, 2015

Pilot Review: The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle (Amazon)
Premiered January 15

I’m not sure how I missed this pilot debuting back in January, but as soon as I saw a preview a few weeks ago, I knew that I should immediately go back and check it out. Premise-wise, this show ranks as one of the most appealing projects in a long time. I’m all about alternate history, and the notion of a United States fragmented into Axis-ruled pieces with rebel forces afoot in all of them is incredibly intriguing. That second part was what I always wanted from “Revolution” and got a little of from “Jericho,” which would have had more had it not been cancelled prematurely. What this pilot offers is a cool concept, but at this point it’s a bit too dense to discern its exact direction or quality. Getting to see some of the Nazi East and the Japanese West is enlightening, and setting this show in 1962 rather than in the present enhances its impact because everything has so recently happened. I’m not sure what to make of the newsreel footage that shows events much more like the way we remember them happening in real life, but I definitely want to find out (I’m hoping it’s because the truth was repressed by propaganda rather than sent from some alternative universe, as in the one in which we live). The extreme duplicity revealed at the end of the episode is disconcerting at best, though it will surely make for an eventful road to come filled with treachery, fascism, and adventure.

How will it work as a series? Defining the main characters and enabling them to exist in their present situations is going to be paramount, and I’m ready to be sold on the specifics of the show in addition to the already alluring overarching world. I’m excited to see where it goes – I have high hopes!
How long will it last? I read that this was Amazon’s most-watched pilot to date, which all but assures it a long life. The network hasn’t found a surefire hit as solid as “Transparent” just yet, and I think this may well be it.

Pilot grade: B

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