TV REVIEW: The Man In The High Castle

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

HOW? 1st 10 episodes available to stream via Amazon

What would America be like if the Nazis and Japan had won World War Two and split the US between them?

That’s the idea of Amazon’s captivating The Man In The High Castle which is based on a Philip K. Dick (the short story writer behind such films as Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report) novel published in 1963 and set 17 years after the end of the second world war.

Netflix has proved for us that there is demand for top-quality original content on its streaming service with the launch of box set-type series including House of Cards, Sense8 and Orange Is The New Black. The Man In The High Castle is the first such Amazon binge-watch that we’ve loved.

Rufus Sewell (who we saw in 2015 at the Donmar in a mediocre new production of Patrick Marber’s Closer) plays SS Obergruppenführer John Smith who is investigating the resistance in a New York ruled by the Nazis. Hitler is in power in Berlin and is fascinated by newsreels which appear to show an alternate future which the resistance is also trying to acquire. The action shifts between the US East Coast (controlled by the Japanese based in San Francisco), the Nazi-controlled West and the neutral zone.

We follow Juliana (Alexa Davalos) in to the neutral zone as she attempts to find out more about her sister’s fate as she encounters the mysterious Joe (Luke Kleintank) who also has a newsreel.

The Man In The High Castle has a complicated history which involved BBC1 and Blade Runner director Ridley Scott before being realised by show runner Frank Spotnitz, who worked on The X-Files. This series works because it shows a range of both German and Japanese characters not just the stereotypes one might expect.

Events sag a little in the middle but the final few episodes rush to a tantalising conclusion which left us gasping for a promised second series of 10 episodes.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy The Man In The High Castle.
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham 

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