Legendary sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick’s work has been a frequent visitor to the big screen, with movies like Blade Runner, both Total Recalls, and The Adjustment Bureau, among others, but he hasn’t been as large a presence on the small screen. Sure, there was Total Recall 2070 in the late 1990s, but beyond that there hasn’t been much. That is, however, about to change. Steven Spielberg working on a Minority Report series (though that seems more based on his own movie than Dick’s work), and Amazon has just cast the first actor in their upcoming adaptation of Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.
Deadline reports that Luke Kleintank has signed on to take the lead role in the online retail giant’s latest stab at producing episodic television. He may not be a huge star, but this project does have some star power behind it, as Ridley Scott is producing. Kleintank is most known for his stints on Fox’s Bones and on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars, but has also done time on multiple CSIs, Gossip Girl, and The Young and the Restless.
Kleintank will reportedly play a character named Joe Blake, described as “an all-American guy living in New York who has joined the clandestine American Resistance.” Those of you familiar with the novel will notice that there is no character named Joe Blake, and we’re willing to bet that he is either an updated version of one of the already extant characters, or perhaps an amalgam of a couple.
First published in 1962, The Man in the High Castle (you can’t help but think that Amazon is also going to change the title, but I hope not) takes place in an alternate timeline. In this world, Giuseppe Zangara’s 1933 attempt to assassinate Franklin D. Roosevelt was successful, which leads to the government being weak. Eventually Japan and Germany wind up winning World War II and taking over the world and divide up the United States between them, though there is a disputed zone in the middle of the country.
Within this totalitarian nightmare, there are numerous storylines that intersect, though some have only the most tertiary connections. There are conflicts between the two Axis powers, as each secretly plots to undo the other, and pockets of resistance, which will likely involve Blake, pop up in various locations. I hope they don’t eschew this more complex latticework of stories in favor of something simple and straightforward, which would be a shame. They could still come up with something very good, but it wouldn’t necessarily be the story we all want to see.
Still, there’s a ton for them to work with. The set up alone is more than enough to build a series on, and themes of fascism, paranoia, justice, gender, power dynamics, the very nature of reality, and more, all provide fertile ground to work in. There is the potential for them to make something fantastic and cool here, let’s just hope they don’t screw it up and waste it.