Time to Remember
It seems every streaming platform is in the television production business. Netflix, Amazon, Yahoo- to name a few. Amazon takes a different approach in that it allows the public the chance to vote on their favorite pilot episodes (a process usually confined to network heads and test groups) and then produces the "winning" show to series. Their previous seasons have produced several series with varying degrees of success, the best of the bunch being the critically acclaimed series Transparent which is a fantastic show about a trans-gendered woman (the brilliantly nuanced Jeffery Tambor) coming out to her family and transitioning into her new life. (I can not imagine it being produced anywhere else.). One of my other favorites from the 2014 slate was the Chris Carter (X-Files) creation, The After, which to my dismay was not picked up.
So it is with mild trepidation that I decided to check out the new pilot offerings. Without the promise of a complete story and only a hint of what is to follow, I can actually sympathize with the powers that be in Television with trying to see the potential in new shows.
I started with The Man in the High Tower which is based on sci-fi novelist Phillip K. Dick's book of the same name.. In this alternate timeline, the Nazis have won the war and are the ruling force in the eastern half of the former USA (the Greater Third Reich) with Japan occupying the western states (the Pacific States).20 years after the war, the Fuhrer (or "Mr. Hitler" as one character calls him) is ailing and threat of conflict rears its' head as his possible replacements (Goebbels, Heydrich, and Goring ) will most likely nuke the Pacific States.
The pilot focuses on primarily three characters- Julianna Crane (Alexa Davelos )-the woman accidently caught up in the resistance , Joe Blake ((Luke Kleintank)- the young man who has recently joined the fray, and John Smith (Rufus Sewell)- the brutal SS Obergruppenfuhrer who is tracking down the package being transported by the freedom fighters. Julianna (after witnessing her half sister Trudy gunned down in the street by SS officers) takes a package her sister gave her to Colorado (a neutral territory between the two super powers) where she is to meet an unknown contact. The package contains a news reel that shows a world where the Allies defeated Germany and Japan, and the film was supposedly made by the man in the high tower. Meanwhile, Joe is making the same journey from the east, as he is her supposed contact.
The fully realized world created in the pilot is richly detailed and chilling in it's possible alternate outcome. The lived in feel and the ""normalcy" of the Nazi rule is scary in it's denizens complacency. At one point, Joe is being helped by an amiable Sherriff after getting a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. White ash floats through the air like snow and Joe asks what it is and the Sherriff answers nonchalantly that it is the old and infirmed being incinerated at the hospital- it's Thursday. Creepy!
I found the premise intriguing and the execution solid. I definitely will tune in if it is brought to series .I really want to know how this ends.
For my mini reviews of Mad Dogs and The New Yorker Presents, check back tomorrow.
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