11.22.63 – TV Review

By: Movie Rob

11.22.63 tells the story of a man who discovers a way to travel back in time to 1960 and stop a future event from occurring that will change the world as we know it. I have been a fan of Stephen King books for more than 25 years and despite not liking his horror novels, I really love the rest of his stuff. He is able to create characters and situations that feels so real because he knows how to develop his stories expertly. This is also why he has absolutely no reservations about writing books that are hundreds, if not thousands of pages long.

Back in October, a friend recommended that I read his King’s novel 11.22.63 because it is written so well and also features the whole Kennedy assassination plot that conspiracy theorists have been trying to decipher for more than 50 years. King thought of a great way to introduce that part of history into his canon of stories and despite this book being over 700 pages, I had a lot of trouble putting it down because it was so engrossing throughout.

When I heard that they were making an 8-Part miniseries, I was quite excited because I was really looking forward to seeing what they would do with one of my new favorite Stephen King books. When I heard that this miniseries would last for two months with weekly installments, I was a bit disappointed because I preferred to watch this all at once instead of weekly as we usually do with TV shows, but I make the difficult decision to wait and binge watch the whole series once it was finished so I could get the whole experience correctly.

The overall premise is truly amazing and unfortunately, they chose to make it feel more serialized for TV and instead of one long story, they broke it onto 8 diffrent chapters that have little connection to the way the story was done in the book. Instead of a flowing story, it comes off too choppy. That being said, the way it was done IS actually more appropriate for a TV series as opposed to a long movie, but the flow of the story suffers due to that change. Adapting a novel to the screen is never an easy task and the fact that King is so good at describing and developing his characters makes it even that much harder to make the transfer to film.

Much of the book is based on the main character’s thoughts while he is contemplating his course of action, but since that’s much more difficult to do on screen, they decided to create a whole new character for him to interact with. This works well within the framework of the story being told here, but as a huge fan of the book, I found it to be sacrilege and wasn’t the happiest about that. I definitely understand why many of the changes made here were done, but at the same time, I wish that they would jhave been much more faithful to the book.

The book takes its time establishing the time travel aspect and here it’s done quite quickly despite having more than 8 hours to play with. One of the main things that I felt was missing in the movie was the Groundhog Day effect that allows the past to be rebooted over and over when something needs to be fixed or perfected.  This worked so well in the book and was clearly lacking here. James Franco was a good choice for the main character because he was able to play a character that is believable both in 2016 and in 1960.

As much as this was an enjoyable TV series, it is no where near as amazing as the book was and that loses points in my eyes. Perhaps someone who is watching this series without the knowledge of the book would appreciate it more than I did. This is an amazing idea that could have been an amazing miniseries, but in the end comes across as just a slightly above average TV show which is a pity.

Excellent premise that, while better realized in the book, it’s still done quite well here. Franco is great as the main character and he works well and fits in during both time periods. Didn’t like some of the main deviations from the book, but I understand why they made those changes.  King is excellent at creating characters and situations and the idea to make this into an episodic miniseries hurts that a bit, but once again, I can appreciate and understand why these changes were implemented. I highly recommend that you all read this amazing book and check out this TV show as well.

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