X-Files' Frank Spotnitz on building an alt-history with The Man in the High Castle

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Aug 4, 2015, 10:22 AM EDT

Amazon is hoping to wrest some sci-fi buzz away from Netflix with the upcoming alt-history drama The Man in the High Castle, and now we have some intel on the fascinating first season.

Based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name, the show is set in an alternate 1960s America where the United States lost World War II. It’s a mind-bending premise, and the pilot episode released a while back was very well received. With the full season set to premiere Nov. 20 on Amazon Prime, producer Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files) was making the rounds at the Television Critics Association press tour to talk up the ambitious genre project.

One of the most interesting angles to a series like this is the immense amount of world-building that goes into it. Part of the story is set in New York City, so what does Times Square look like in a world where the Nazis won? What are the clothing styles? The technology? The social structure? Etc.? That’s what Spotnitz and his team have spent the past year or so figuring out.

Here’s an excerpt from his comments:

“I really hope it makes people think. What do you stand for? What are your values? How do you differ from the people you see in the show? … The biggest challenge was defining the visual alternative history. What would Times Square look like if we didn't live in a corporate capital society? Would there be cars with fins or space-age optimism in the design of home appliances? There's literally thousands of props and set design and costume design issues.”

Following that rabbit further down the hole, series star Rupert Evans (factory worker Frank Fink) said they have to make those cultural differences a component of how they portray their characters. Evans noted this is a world where “Elvis didn’t happen” and “the Beatles didn’t happen.” Since all those cultural touchstones are missing, it obviously changes the culture in a fundamental way.

What’s your take on Man in the High Castle? Will it be Amazon’s first big genre hit?

(Via The Hollywood Reporter, Broadcasting & Cable)