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April 18, 2016

TV Review: 11.22.63 (Hulu Original, 2016)

Stephen King is no stranger to having his books turned into miniseries. Some, like It, are considered classics. Others, like The Langoliers or the 1970s version of Salem's Lot, are kind of cheesy or even plain terrible. Still more, like the Steven Weber led The Shining, which is superior to the Kubrick film (Not sorry. That movie is awful and dull.), will never get their proper due. To me, most of King's works are told best in long form. It gives them room to breathe. This doesn't take away from the amazing features made from his books, but sometimes miniseries is bettah. See what I did there? I'm hilarious.

This is the case with 11.22.63. My wife and I just called it the Franco show, because while the numbers make the title look short, Eleven Twenty-two Sixty-three is a mouthful. The story is interesting. What if you could stop the Kennedy assassination? That's the task diner owner Al (Chris Cooper) gives to his friend Jake (James Franco). Al has tried many times, but every time he gets close, something goes wrong. Now he's at the end of a losing battle with cancer, and he's passing the torch. A portal exists in the back of his diner, and when you walk through it, you're in the same spot exactly three years before the assassination. Whatever you do in the past becomes part of the timeline when you come back, but if you pass through the portal again, time resets. This comes in handy if you screw up.

While he initially resists, Jake accepts the responsibility. He doesn't have much to live for in the present, and you only lose two minutes here no matter how much time you spend in the past.
SPOILERS START HERE! I'll let you know when they're over.

Through his time in the past, Jake partners with a man named Bill, who helps him track Lee Harvey Oswald. He also finds work as a teacher and falls in love. Time fights back constantly, but Jake pushes through at every turn. This is where it gets really interesting. Al believed that stopping the assassination would prevent the Vietnam war and change the world for the better. I've never understood why, but Baby Boomers idolize two terrible people: John Lennon, who violently attacked a reporter and abandoned his older son, and John F. Kennedy, who on many occasions sexually abused women. I fully expected a JFK fueled Utopia when Jake came home, and I was pleasantly surprised.


I would highly recommend 11.22.63. Hulu dropped one episode per week, and I had that old feeling of anticipation when I got home from work every Monday night. It's all available now, so binge away. Hulu continues its dramatic original content with The Path, and I'm sure we'll see Netflix levels churning out soon.

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