The first two episodes of this Amazon Studios TV series, based on the alternate history novel by Philip Dick – the films Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report were all based on his writing – are currently available for free streaming online by Amazon Prime members. The Man in the High Castle aims high, and it’s worth noting that Ridley Scott is one of the executive producers. There are some cinematic scenes and elaborate, period sets, but it doesn’t – so far, anyway – seem to be quite at the same level as the better series offerings from Netflix, HBO, Showtime or, even, Amazon’s own Bosch.
The Man in the High Tower imagines the early 1960s as if the Axis Powers – Nazi Germany and Japan – had won World War II. A young man and woman become part of the resistance movement, each in different ways. She is from the Japanese-ruled west coast of the former United States; he is from the expanded Greater Nazi Reich on the east coast. Their paths cross in a bleak, run down city with a backdrop of snow capped Rocky Mountains somewhere in Colorado. Oops, it’s now the Neutral Zone!
Given the high quality of the original source material, there is plenty to keep you interested here. Viewers also find out early on, not everything is what it initially seems to be. The series has some nice touches. An eerie version of “Edelweiss” (from The Sound of Music) accompanies the opening credits, and there is a dark, ’60s retro, film noir feel (see the trailer below) to match the Cold War era paranoia. There are no big names in the cast, though, and the performances – or maybe it’s the characters – are not always convincing. Still, the netTVwatch crew is intrigued enough that we plan to be back when all episodes of The Man in the High Tower becomes available on November 20, 2015.