The Man In The High Cas­tle

Ama­zon gave it the green light, but did your vote make a dif­fer­ence?

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - View Screen -

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!

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