Fridays, 3:00 AM ET on Amazon

60 minutes

A glimpse into an alternate history of North America: what life after WWII may have been like if the Nazis had won the war. The Man in the High Castle explores daily life in 1962, fourteen years after the end of a longer Second World War (1939–1948 in this history). The victorious Axis Powers - Imperial Japan, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany - are conducting intrigues against each other in North America, specifically in the former U.S., which surrendered to them once they had conquered Eurasia and destroyed the populaces of Africa.
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Dec 27, 2015 6:26PM EST

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I had such high hopes for this series as the concept is fascinating and I enjoyed the book on which it's (loosely) based, but unfortunately the first few episodes were so incredibly dull I couldn't get past them. Maybe it gets more interesting as the story develops, but everyone I know personally who watched it found it equally tedious going throughout, to the point where I wonder if its good reviews and high ratings are a case of the emperor having no clothes.
The boring nature of the show is not due to a lack of action but, on the contrary, too much action, too soon. For me, the most interesting aspect of the story would have been exploring the small everyday details of life in this parallel world (as, indeed, the book cleverly does). Instead, we are thrown headlong into a lengthy dramatic action sequence which has little to make it stand out from the ordinary, involving characters we haven't been introduced to and therefore couldn't care less about. Who are Juliana and Frank? Are they good people or bad? Should we care when their safety (or that of their family) is threatened? These are questions the series takes too long to answer, instead relying on clichéed imagery without substance to tug at our heartstrings.
To be fair, I generally find it hard to be interested in action for the sake of action -- it only becomes interesting when we worry about the safety and emotional well-being of the characters -- so if you are a pure action fan, I guess you won't be disappointed. However, if you enjoy intelligent, character-driven TV, you'll probably find this doesn't live up to your expectations.
A final small quibble: though the set and costume design were excellent, numerous early scenes relied on such dark lighting (regardless of TV picture setting) for atmosphere that it became difficult to make out what was happening. This was especially problematic since The Man in the High Castle introduces us to a large cast of characters in very few episodes; even having read the book, I had trouble keeping track of who was who. Or perhaps the poor writing was to blame for the confusion.
I realize this review makes me sound like I'm 80 with failing vision and a fondness for sleepy plot lines, but seriously, I'm not. Just a young person who appreciates quality TV, and was hoping this series would be on par with the brilliant character/world-driven writing of, say, Orphan Black, or early seasons of Homeland. It's not.


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