After much anticipation and hype, Hulu finally premiered their 8 part adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, “11/22/63”. Unlike most streamed shows, the whole season wasn’t posted at once. It seems like they’re going more old school, uploading a new episode every Monday. So, unless you’re willing to wait, binge watching is out of the question. On top of that, it is only available to paid subscribers.
That being said, this was a strong outing. It sets things up very effectively and keeps you engaged through the entire 90 minute run time. The first half is largely set up, which is fascinating in its own way given the premise, but we also see Jake run afoul of bookies, the government, and even time itself.
People were skeptical of James Franco’s casting as Jake when it was first announced. It was unclear why before, but it becomes even more so after watching this. He brings more than enough charisma to help you connect to the character. It’s a good thing too as the script doesn’t really have time to flesh him out to any real degree. He’s a teacher, he’s getting divorced, and he’s a generally pleasant fellow. That’s really about all you get because the time travel takes precedence.
That’s not to say that the script is weak. The dialogue all works well and there’s humor peppered throughout to help add to the enjoyment. The funny lines are actually funny too, which is nice. Humor is a gamble as it makes bad dialogue that much more glaring when it falls flat.
Having Chris Cooper always helps too. He seems like an odd pick for Al Templeton, the man who tasks Jake with saving Kennedy, but he worked out wonderfully. He adds his trademark gravitas to the role and it pays off. He and Franco play off each other rather well. The scenes they share are among the episode’s highlights.
So far, it’s pretty faithful to the book. Of course, it’s still early. The only apparent difference is Al’s certainty about Oswald’s involvement. Where the book slammed the door on the conspiracy angle, the script here leaves a bit more wiggle room. So far, it’s just amounted to recon work for Jake, but whether it does anything with it has yet to be determined.
The show also has a rather strong soundtrack, as one would expect when going back to the 60’s. It’s hardly a make or break matter, but it definitely helps.
It’s early, so one doesn’t want to jinx it, but this looks like it’s going to rank among the stronger adaptations of King’s work. The source material was already quite strong, but it’s still good to see that it is being handled deftly here.