YouTube seemed to think I would like the pilot episode for the series The Man in the High Castle. They showed it to me about a dozen times last week. So I found it and watched it. It was so good I was amazed it came from Amazon. Their foray into science fiction book publishing has been largely unimpressive.
I read the Philip K. Dick novel decades ago and mostly forgot it, except for the premise of the defeated United States being partitioned by the victorious Axis in the late 1940’s.
The pilot is a good start: well-written by X-Files braintrust member Frank Spotnitz. He mentions the transition from award-winning book to small screen:
I felt like we needed more of a plot and narrative structure to sustain a TV series for a long, long time. And I felt we just needed to build out in order to better explore the ideas in the book and actually to create more room in the TV series than he had in the novel to explore these really interesting and amazing ideas that Philip K. Dick had in his head.
The building out is good. Good thing it works for a book like this. I thought the attempt to “build out” The Hobbit for three movies was a less successful enterprise.
This was successful for a few reasons. Nazis bring real menace. There is a key reveal at the end of the pilot episode you know will drive a plot for a number of episodes. Every one of the good guys is in trouble before the end of episode 1.