The Man In The High Castle
Amazon gave it the green light, but did your vote make a difference?
Recently on the SFX website we reviewed this adaptation of Philip K Dick’s alternative history novel – part of the latest Amazon Originals Pilot Season. We urged you to watch it and vote for it in the hope that Amazon might choose to make it a full series.
You clearly did your duty – Amazon has given the series a green light. But we reckon you may as well not have bothered.
No, we haven’t had a change of opinion about the show itself. This is a powerful, stylish, impeccably acted adaptation that may stray from the novel in terms of plot details, but which nails the themes and black humour. Plus its visualisation of an alternate ’ 60s America, split into a Japanese sector to the west and a Nazi sector to the east following an Axis victory in World War II is stunningly – and evocatively – realised. It’s also a powerful combination of small, personal stories and larger scale intrigue.
But does what we think actually matter? Despite appearances ( and marketing- led incentives to visit Amazon websites to vote and learn more about other Amazon services) is there actually any democratic process going on?
Evidence suggests no. Of the 2014 crop of pilots, Amazon gave the thumbs up to the show that was given the lowest rating by its voters: the gender- reassignment drama Transparent, which has gone on to be a critical hit with dozens of awards. Its theme probably explains why conservative American viewers dismissed it, but the simple fact is: the voters were wrong. Democracy failed. And crucially, Amazon ignored the vote and said yes to a show that has gone on to be regarded as its Breaking Bad.
... High Castle was, apparently, the most watched Amazon pilot this year, but you can’t help feel the decision was made before it was available to stream. Which is why it was given the green light so soon after it was launched.
Pilot season is, basically, a huge publicity opportunity that pays lip service to audience participation. That said, it does have one advantage for viewers: we actually get to see the non- commissioned pilots that would otherwise stay locked in some studio vault. Dave Golder
WE LOVED THIS SHOW! Can’t wait to see more!