Wednesday 21 January 2015

Why I'm not reviewing Amazon's The Man in the High Castle pilot

Amazon has made the pilot episode for a mini-series based on Philip K. Dick's alternative history novel in which the axis powers won World War II, The Man in the High Castle, and some of you can go and watch it for free!

I love Pippy D. He isn't just the Dick du jour for me, but a staple Dick. There are times when he is probably relegated to a sort of background, cosmic Dick, but he's always there.

I love his work. I get deep into it in a weird way. There are lots of things I can say about it that would be generally considered to be pretty negative. Things that would prompt people to then say, 'What you've just said makes me not want to read this book you're brandishing at my face'.

What I can say with absolute assuredness is that Dick's whole psychological wavelength was his own. That, to me, is a truth. The dude thought up some shit that other people simply weren't thinking. Once thought up he would then pen that shit, and go about getting it published so that people could consume it, and eventually mine it for their own outputs.

When The Man in the High Castle came out, it was that sort of thing. The war was less than two decades won, and people were getting deep into the cold war that followed, and people weren't writing about alternate Earths on which the United States is occupied by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, who are themselves now engaged in their own cold war.

It is essentially a 1960s, cold war drama/thriller set on an alternate Earth, and more so the people who live there. That is what it is. Well, honestly there is more to it than that. There are other elements. Things I won't go into here.

Right there, on that alone, it is sort of a winner. It's a thing that people want to watch. It sounds like the kind of thing that you would make into a TV series. I thought so when I read the book so much that I started adapting it before I even finished it.

Now, Amazon agreed with me, and got a lot further with their adaptation than I did, and it looks good.

The Man in the High Castle was the first (and arguably only) Philip K Dick novel to win a 'major' award. He won other awards for other books, but he got a Hugo for this thing.

It is subjectively one of his best books.

Less subjectively, it has been produced by Ridley Scott, who amongst his many achievements directed Blade Runner, which is the single best adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story. Fact.

It looks like everything that it should be, and people can watch it for free over on Amazon.

I can't watch it at all though. I'm Australian, and this activity is therefore verboten to me.

They have made a free pilot, off the back of which they presumably want to sell the rest of the series. They also presumably want to see what the market for such a series would be to markets outside their own so that they can try and convince those other markets to buy it in order to resell to the people that live there.

That makes sense to me. That sounds like a solid and open model.

'Do you want this thing we're thinking about making?', 'How many of you want this thing?', and 'Is it worth it for us to make this thing?' seem like really good questions to ask and on which to gather the sweet, tasty data.

That isn't what's happening. Everyone is essentially locked out until someone takes a punt on their region, which I kind of get (but still think is stupid), but I don't get locking out regions from the material you are using to see if people are interested in the product.

This is part of an unreasonably protracted slow death of an archaic model.

It would make a lot more sense if you could watch it on YouTube, seeing as it is, at this stage, essentially a promotional episode.

Dear Amazon,

Why are you making it so hard for us to like you?

Kind regards,

The Australian Market

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