Stephen King’s 11.22.63 asked an interesting question: what if JFK hadn’t been assassinated on that fateful November day?
Sadly, he didn’t really even try answering said question. Rather, he wrote a plodding, painfully overlong time travel story that almost entirely concerned itself with the mechanics of saving JFK rather than grappling with how the world might really have changed if he’d seen out his presidency.
And so it is with this big budget television miniseries produced for Hulu. Liberated from King’s sub-standard prose, the story is actually much more enjoyable here – although it’s still a frustrating waste of a concept that in more skilled hands could have had a lot to say about US society and politics.
High art it ain’t then, but this is a premium show with the premium sheen we’ve come to expect from the HBO’s and Netflix’s of the world. Its production values are impeccable – much better than that other recent King adaptation, the appalling Under the Dome – and its cast is mostly excellent.
Mostly. But just what were they thinking putting James Franco in the lead role? He’s woefully miscast as the everyman English teacher Jake Epping, undercutting much of the dramatic tension with his punchable putty-face.
He comes perilously close to completely ruining the entire. Still, better to endure one bad performance than 800 pages of King’s turgid writing.