I think many go into this mini-series with the expectation that it's going to be more of an action film like Red Dawn. While there is a modicum of action in Amerika, it is primarily a drama that focuses on the lives of the privileged elite, and the small town folk, as fundamental transformations in Amerika take place, and how they cope with such change. But there is no overt communist revolution taking place in Amerika in this film. Rather, the Soviet takeover took place as a slow incremental progressive regulatory transformation, with the aid of the United Nations. There was no grand military invasion or battle. Also, the takeover took place 10 years previous to the events of this film, and is still progressing as this film begins. At the time this film takes place, the President and Congress is still present throughout most of it.
One reviewer asked, "The Russians are in charge, but why does that mean there is no running water?" It's not that the Russians are in charge, but rather, that communists are in charge without regard to their nationality. You'll remember the scene in the back of a limousine when Sam Neil's character talks about his frustrations with the communist system appointing loyal party members rather than those with proven competency. Obviously incompetency would lead to issues with water supplies. That's the nature of communism. However, another explanation is that the Soviets had already taken the Milford's land. Evicting a prominent family from their home would cause undue attention. So to slowly push the Milfords out of their home and away from their land, it's likely that their water was deliberately turned off by petty local officials.
Many criticize Kris Kristopherson's acting and his character arc. But I think many are expecting a kind of Braveheart hero. Kristopherson's character tried to be a Braveheart 10 years previously, but no one answered his call to fight back, and he was sent to prison where he was subjected to 6 years of re-education. This was a broken man who felt burned by those around him, and as a result was reluctant to engage. The story is about his rediscovery of what he lost before he went to prison, and his transformation into a larger symbol, around which a counter-revolution would undoubtedly rally. His reserved and nearly silent performance throughout the film conveys the oppressive and repressive harm that past events have had on him, and provides the stark contrast needed when his patriotism reemerges and erupts.
Some may feel that the ending offers little closure. I think it was left open ended for two reasons. First, to offer the chance to have this go to regular series if it hit really big. Second, to make viewers question themselves as to what course of action they would pursue under these circumstances. Would they be Devin Milford and fight till the bitter end, or would they avoid making waves and choose Peter Bradford's route no matter how reprehensible going with the flow might be.
Some criticize the length. But this was produced before the frantic MTV editing style became all the rage, and attention spans were much longer in the pre-Twitterverse world, so pacing will be decidedly slower than younger audiences are used to.
It's unsurprising that the press would savage this mini-series, particularly given that it doesn't paint the press in a positive light, and represents a counter argument to the general ideology that the majority the mainstream press holds.
It's possible that a remake could work, updated with today's primary geo-political enemy as the conqueror. But there's always a danger that it could turn out like the Red Dawn remake, at China's recommendation.
What's most chilling about this mini-series though, is that while it depicts a Soviet takeover of the United States, the rhetoric that Soviet officials and indoctrinated school children use is eerily similar to that of modern Democratic Party rhetoric. That's what makes this mini-series unwittingly prescient. That's the element that seems to spark the most rage among Progressive critics.
This mini-series is long overdue for an excellent DVD release.
For those who feel this scenario is patently absurd, I recommend reading "New Lies for Old" (1984) and "The Perestroika Deception" (1985) by ex-KGB operative Anatoly Golitsyn. I would also suggest studying Antonio Gramsci, György Lukács, and the Frankfurt School. I would also recommend watching interviews with ex-KGB operative Yuri Bezmenov available on YouTube.
I also leave you with a 1989 quote from Mikhail Gorbachev:
"Gentlemen, comrades, do not be concerned about all you hear about Glasnost and Perestroika and democracy in the coming years. These are primarily for outward consumption. There will be no significant change in the Soviet Union, other than for cosmetic purposes. Our aim is to disarm the Americans and let them fall asleep."