Another Philip K. Dick story has been adapted into fictional gold. What would happen if the Nazi’s had won World War II? The Man in the High Castle seeks to explore that possible reality. Based on the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name, the story is set 15 years after the end of World War II in 1962. North America is divided into two countries, one being operated by Nazi Germany and the other by Imperial Japan. The cleansing of the people is in full force: Jews, the physically disabled and rebels are killed without dignity or mercy. Even more, some are viewed as “enemies of the state” and thrown into mass graves.
Most of the story takes place in San Francisco where we meet Juliana Craine (Alexa Davalos in a career making role previously seen in “Clash Of The Titans” as Andromeda), a martial arts enthusiast and girlfriend to Frank Frink (Portrayed fantastically by Rupert Evans who previously starred as John Meyers in “Hellboy”), a jewelry designer and crafter of replica handguns. In the middle of the night Juliana runs into her sister Tracy, who in a hurry passes her a bag with a reel of film in it. Moments later Tracy is shot and killed in the middle of the street by the police force for Imperial Japan known as the Kempeitai. Juliana escapes to her flat and proceeds to watch the film which reveals why Tracy lost her life to the Kempeitai. The film shows what could have been the United States and the Allied powers winning the war and FDR never having been assassinated.
Throughout Philip K. Dick’s life he has written beautiful short stories and novelizations depicting different kinds of dystopias, such as Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report. He has the ability to deliver a story that totally immerses you into this alternate reality and this series is no different. The tale is one of science fiction but it doesn’t utlize cheap sci-fi gimmicks like other shows. Instead, it immerses the viewer such that they feel they that this alternate reality is plausible and realistic in nature. The showrunners, directors, actors and all involved in production do a fantastic job of transporting you from your couch, into their fictional world that doesn’t seem so detached from reality.
The adaptation of The Man in the High Castle to the small screen clearly illustrates how relevant King’s stories are today, more than 30 years after his passing. Balanced by a stellar cast of relative unknowns, a gripping story, and high production value, The Man in the High Castle should be the benchmark that all Amazon, Netflix and Hulu produced shows seek to reach and a shining example of what quality television should deliver to its audience.
4 out of 5 Couch Cushions