James Franco, Chris Cooper, Cherry Jones, Sarah Gadon
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…stylish and thought-provoking…
Two of the great time travel thought experiments are, “would you kill Hitler?” and “would you save JFK?” The slick J.J. Abrams produced mini-series, 11.22.63 seeks to address the latter question and, based on the first two episodes, does so extremely effectively.
11.22.63 started life as a massive, 900-page Stephen King novel. With an emphasis on character and drama rather than horror, it lends itself beautifully to the mini-series treatment. The story focuses on Jake Epping (James Franco), a high school English teacher who is a bit lost and listless after his divorce. Al Templeton (Chris Cooper) is the proprietor of Al’s Diner, Jake’s favourite eatery, and one day Al tells Jake a secret: there’s a doorway in the diner that leads into the past!
The thing about this specific brand of diner-based time travel is that there are rules. This isn’t a DeLorean situation, Jake has to live, work and exist in 1960s America for some years before that fateful day in Dallas. Much of the first episode’s humour comes from Jake’s very 2016 attitudes coming into conflict with a vastly different society.
It’s not all smiles and era juxtapositions, however, and episode two teases the story’s tantalising thriller elements, wherein the past proves that sometimes it doesn’t want to be changed. Sci-fi, thriller and Stephen King fans would do well to tune in to this stylish and thought-provoking adventure.