Saturday, February 13, 2016

11.22.63: King and Abrams Create a Parallel Past

Hulu blazes onto the Amazon and Netflix trail with an original eight-part series, based on Stephen King's novel, "11/22/63"; produced with the author by "Star Trek"/"Star Wars" revisionist, J.J. Abrams. 

The date, in the event one doesn't know, is that of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. The premise of King's tale is what would happen if one were to return in time to prevent such. The concept was previously played upon in Rod Serling's "Back There", a "Twilight Zone" favorite focusing on the potential prevention of President Lincoln's untimely death. It also smacks of Harlan Ellison's classic "Star Trek" offering, "City on the Edge of Forever."

James Franco plays Jake Epping, a current-day, high-school teacher who finds his way through a diner portal to 1960, with some encouraging guidance from Chris Cooper's Al Templeton, a cook with a dark past. Lucy Frye, Daniel Webber and Josh Duhamel also figure into the primary cast.

The consequences of Epping's journey may not be as certain and/or beneficial as one might anticipate, with tricks and turns along the treacherous way, as he stalks (and prepares to slay) Lee Harvey Oswald (Webber). Remember "Dark Room'"s "Stay Tuned, We'll be Right Back"? Well, this treatment treads upon such shaky ground.

"11.22.63" begins on February 15 (Presidents' Day) and has the potential to match Netflix's thought-provoking "Man in the High Castle" (see Nov '15). I'm keeping my fingers crossed, for this adventure has a good cast and premise, and if done right, it could initiate other imaginative programs via the ambitious Hulu. 


  1. Have you noticed the subtle title labeling between book and series? The novel is 11/22/63, and the series is 11.22.63., is this variance required? No matter. It's the content that should count.

  2. Started the series and so far, I fancy it to the hilt. Love the way the reset and push-back concepts are handled; the early '60 ambiance is also done right. James Franco's James Dean persona also works well in the grand scheme of things. Anxious to watch more, but will take my time to savor it all. This one shouldn't be rushed, but rather watched and then contemplated before the next chapter.

  3. "The Kill Floor"--gripping episode but also damn disturbing. Some of the scenarios depicted and accounts relayed put me on edge. Well, I guess that's just the way the ball bounces sometimes. I'll think about this one for a spell. That's for sure.

    Next week's installment looks interesting and nowhere near as intense. For better or worse, looking forward to it.

  4. "Other Voices, Other Rooms"--liked it much better than "Kill Floor". It was intense, but in a much more pleasant, conspiracy-building way. It also had more of a nostalgic feel, and in that atmosphere, I could have stayed for hours, watching more, learning more.

    1. PS: I liked James Franco's James Dean reference, considering that he made his mark playing Dean in a television movie.

  5. "Eyes of Texas" was pretty much a bridge episode, but at the same time, some significant plot points emerged. It was a gripping chapter, at any rate. I'm not so sure what that whole clothespin thing was about, though, but well, so be it.

  6. "The Truth" was an engaging but doleful episode. I didn't get much sense of hope from it, but then this series isn't suppose to spring with joy.

    The episode didn't cater as much to the Oswald/Kennedy situation(s), either, but I guess, with only three installments to go, things will swing back in that direction.

  7. "Happy Birthday, Lee Harvey Oswald" pushed things along nicely: not that all was revealed in the grand scheme of things, of course, but a decent extension was presented nonetheless. Anxious to see how they wrap up this adaptation. With the series coming to a close, I'm assuming the final phases will be fairly productive.

  8. "Soldier Boy"--a slow, quiet burn on that one. The sense of foreboding was inescapable: a clear, calculated lead-up to the finale.

  9. "Day in Question"--an unsettling finale, but appropriate, I suppose. Wished there had been ore details on the alteration of things. Deserved that much, damn it.

    Again, though, the concept of resetting and looping is fascinating. The concept needn't end here, however. Other such test runs can occur, at different times, with different people. Might be worth a shot or two. Just depends on how the set-ups are done.