The Man in the High Castle

It was in 1953, in the summer between 6th and 7th grade, that my family first got a TV. 14 inches, as I recall, black and white of course. It was kind of exciting and I watched it quite a bit for a while. But by the time the summer was over the novelty had worn off. I never watched TV very much after that.

I went to movies. I liked a lot of movies. But movies were different. Mostly movies were a social experience, and my friends/date and I would eat before the show and discuss it after, perhaps playing out some of the roles. But movies didn’t really stimulate my imagination as much as reading for the most part. By the time I went to sea with the Navy in the early 1960s I’d become very selective about movies. We got pretty rotten ones for the most part and my shipmates would kid me about sitting in my stateroom reading while the movie was showing. I was navigator and thus the senior watch officer and sometimes I’d relieve the bridge watch so the OOD could see the film.

My wife, who loves films and is extremely perceptive about them, finds my disinterest a bit frustrating. We do have a regular Friday evening movie night with friends, usually at home watching videos. And lately we have found common ground in watching videos while I exercise on my elliptical trainer.

I’ve never liked exercise per se, never played games. It’s a little unnatural to be exercise-averse and I knew I’d be better off if I exercised, but that didn’t move me all that much. I compensated some by walking a lot, finding reasons to walk rather than ride. But in recent years walking has grown less comfortable.

So I got the elliptical and somewhat to my surprise I’ve managed to establish a fairly regular pattern of three 20 minute sessions per day, at a fairly brisk pace. I miss sometimes, but altogether get in five to six hours of exercise per week.

The videos play an important role in the economy of my exercise. On occasion, when Anne is away, I read rather than watch videos, but watching with her is most pleasant and motivating. The trick of course is to find things we both like,

Somewhat to my surprise, Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle” is filling the bill. It’s less psychological and more action oriented than most of the things we watch, and she tends not to care much for SciFi in general, but it seems to work pretty well for both of us.

I think it’s really mostly because of the characters rather than plot per se. What happens to these people is more involving than what happens to this mutation of Philip K. Dick’s dark world.

It’s a bit odd, really. There are an awful lot of glitches and loose ends. That was always one of my problems with Dick’s fiction: his imagination outran his understanding of many aspects of the real world. I often get turned off when films are too far out of synch with reality, but this one doesn’t bother me so much. I suppose a lot of it is that the story is frankly fantastic and doesn’t really pretend to be about the real world.

Terrific performances count for a lot, particularly Rufus Sewell (John Smith) and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Nobusuke Tagomi).