TV Review: 11.22.63

Monday 13 June 2016 by

11.22.63, TV, Hulu, JJ Abrams, Stephen King

Produced by JJ Abrams and Stephen King, and based on the novel by King, 11.22.63 follows recently divorced high school teacher Jake Epping (James Franco) who, at the behest of local diner owner Al (Chris Cooper) travels back in time to do what Al couldn’t – stop the assassination of JFK. Al believes that preventing Kennedy’s death will mean no Vietnam War and a better future for all; too sick to continue travelling he passes his trove of research to Jake and convinces him that he must go back to stop Lee Harvey Oswald and anyone else who may have been involved.

Told over 8 episodes the story moves at well-structured pace that simmers with suspense, builds up those tense moments (of which there are many), yet allows the viewer the breathing room to get to know and care about the characters. Characterisation is one of King’s greatest storytelling strengths and it is displayed wonderfully here. What could have been an overly convoluted piece of television is instead a thoughtful, heartfelt thriller that sucks you into its whirlwind, and makes you think.

As with all King material, there’s so much more to this than the basic premise; exploring themes of love, loss, fate, and our need to control what goes on around us. Can we truly affect change in people or is everything just inevitable? As with The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile this once again proves that King has several strings to his bow and that you needn’t be a horror fan to appreciate or check out his work. There’s something for everyone here; drama, romance, thrills, chills (it wouldn’t be a King adaptation without some dark moments), conspiracies and intrigue, you name it.

The cast is superb. Franco gives a very considered performance that feels very un-Franco, he truly embodies Jake (I’ll admit that I’ve never been much of a fan, and that it was my love of Stephen King stories that made me overlook this and give it a go). Josh Duhamel and TR Knight go against their usual types and give brilliantly terrifying performances. Each and every performance is just fantastic whether they span five minutes or five episodes. I won’t go into the what happens as I think this is a good one to go into not knowing much about it but will say that there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you gripped. I’m not quite sure how I feel about the ending but do feel that the journey towards it was so good that a little uncertainty in feelings seems a small price.

If you’re looking for an engaging binge watch, particularly if you’re after one that won’t take up weeks of your life, I urge you to check this out.

11.22.63 is available now on Sky On-Demand and is due to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray in August.

Nerissa is a writer, mummy and rather proud geek living in the countryside. In between playtime, cuddles and fun times she loves to read, knit, bake and write Young Adult and children’s fiction.

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