Entertainment & Life

Amazon, Hulu step up high-concept offerings

The second season of “The Man in the High Castle” will be available Friday.
The second season of “The Man in the High Castle” will be available Friday. Amazon

The number of programs available through streaming services continues to grow. A second season of “The Man in the High Castle” will launch on Amazon Friday and Hulu’s new series, “Shut Eye,” has just been made available.

The programs show the diversity of projects being presented online.

Amazon

“The Man in the High Castle,” based on Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning 1962 alternate history novel in which the Allies lost World War II, shows how Germany controls much of the East Coast and Japan controls the West Coast.

Those who watched the first season, and wondered about the mysterious figure known only as the Man in the High Castle, will get more information in this second season.

Isa Dick Hackett, one of the executive producers of High Castle, promises there is a lot more to mine from the novel, especially in regard to the mystery person.

“That’s a big piece of a character that we didn’t get to last season. But the progression, the narrative progression, is different in the show than it is in the book. So there was a little bit of jumping around. And so there is still quite a bit to do,” Hackett says.

Returning as a central figure is Frank Frink (Rupert Evans), a factory worker taken into custody who proves dangerous because of his secret Jewish ancestry. Evans likes the unusual world in which the story unfolds.

“I think we’re in very distinct worlds. … And new worlds in Season 2 open up for these characters. So the show, as with the book, expands,” Evans says. “There’s a lot more for us to do. I hope that our characters can show the audience these differing worlds and the changing aspects of our characters.”

One thing that will happen is his character will become more radicalized, a big change from the first season.

Hulu

“Shut Eye” examines the world of fortunetellers and a family of scam artists who run the operations. This all changes when one man (Jeffrey Donovan) suddenly finds himself with what could be real mental abilities.

“Shut Eye” is a big change for Donovan, who spent seven seasons played burned spy Michael Weston in “Burn Notice.” In “Shut Eye,” Donovan plays former magician Charlie Haver ford who oversees the operation of a number of fortunetelling parlors on behalf of a kingpin boss. A blow to the head makes him question everything he believes.

To prepare for the role, he researched fortunetellers and was surprised by what he found.

“What surprised me may not be evident at first. It’s the victim,” Donovan says. “They’re smarter than you think. They’re mostly educated. They’re mostly white collar. They’re college educated. That’s who’s being frauded out of money, which makes sense, because the poor and uneducated don’t have a lot of money to steal from. So you have really smart, educated people walking in with $5 and then they’re bilked for a half a million. So I wanted to investigate that role and what else it created.”

Donovan also looked at mentalists. He was interested in the skills they have developed to be able to read people and make evaluations through what they see.

The role is not only different for Donovan because he’s dealing with psychics, but because for the first time in a long time he’s not portraying a character who is the alpha in the room.

“It’s been a very big challenge for me to play this type of character and I wanted that,” he says. “And whether I’m succeeding or not, it was something I wanted to do.”

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

The Man in the High Castle

  • Friday on Amazon

Shut Eye

  • Now streaming on Hulu
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