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Episodic television with actual episodes. How novel. - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
captainsblog
captainsblog
Episodic television with actual episodes. How novel.
I shouldn't say that last part, because I never read The Novel of 11/22/63.  I saw it plenty of times after it went from New to Nearly New to Just Plain Huge at the local library, but it always seemed too intimidating to crack.  It also somehow escaped me that Stephen King's spin on the story was one of time travel.

Now, though, Hulu has picked up the property, shortened it significantly, repunctuated it 11.22.63 (my guess is that's a search engine optimization Thing), and released the first of its eight episodes today- on this country's unofficially named Presidents Day.  The one-episode-a-week release distinguishes it from the binge method that Netflix seems to prefer.  It certainly keeps it fresh, and people guessing, for far longer.

And boy are there things to guess about.

Episode One lays out the Rules, demonstrates how they play out (very similar to other franchises but with a couple of different spins on it), and sets both stages- the national one, and the smaller but more movable stage surrounding Jake Epping, or James Amberson as he's preserved in the past (both played by James Franco). His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a flashback that only Jake can see and hear. (See what I did there?) That would be Chris Cooper, in a perfectly droll and smartassy grumpy old man role.  And then there's Jerry Mathers as the TARDIS- well, not exactly, but one can only spoil so much the first time out.

King's novel fixed the invariable starting point of the time journeys at 1958; this series moves it up to just before the 1960 elections, which shortens the arc but also permits the story to get more quickly into the Kennedy story itself.  Already we've gotten references to many of the conspiracy tropes, including one guy who's been fictionalized into other retellings of the assassination tale- and we've met the Time Cops, or Lone Gunmen, or whatever they're going to turn out to be, who, along with Time Itself, seem determined to keep our hero from succeeding.

Now, some specific spoilers and nitpicks:



- The Rules provide that time IS changed by actions taken to change it, but that they all reset back to the prior timeline as soon as anyone goes back through the portal again.  That being the case, and Al stating early on that "Well, if we kill Oswald in early 1963 and Kennedy lives we'll know he did it," why wait until early 1963? Why not be standing in the airport (as Al briefly does) as soon as Lee and Maria get off the plane and go Jack Ruby on him? If you're wrong and history doesn't change, just go back and jump in again.

- Why does Jake brick his iPhone the minute he gets out of his old town in Maine?  He tosses it in a river just because it has sad-puppy pictures of his ex on it.  But even without wireless signal, he'd already proven it to be a useful survival tool- and its Voice Recorder app would've come in real handy in the restaurant.

- Dude. Since you've got over three years to wait around, instead of blowing most of your wad on a car the first day and then taking the town bookie for $3,500 worth of 1960 dollars, why not lose a few times to avoid suspicion?

- Everyone, from Maxwell Smart to James Bond to the President's Analyst, knows not to EVER get into a phone booth when you're trying to avoid detection. Especially ones in the middle of nowhere.

- On the other hand, this possibly unauthentic campaign ad from 1960 was alone worth the hour and change:



- And there were plenty of homages to the rest of the Kingiverse. Episode One alone included a Carrie, a Christine (okay, a Christy) and a Johnny. Plus, one brief scene of Standard Stephen Horror before it all goes black.



We were left hanging on an important but perfectly appropriate cliff, which Episode Two will no doubt resolve for us.  I just that's not psychic paper on the top of the one guy's hat.
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