When the writer of Carrie releases a book you pay attention. When a TV adaptation is made starring James Franco you pay even more attention. His book, 11.22.63, tells the tale of Jake Epping who goes back in time to stop the assassination of President Kennedy. But as any book lover knows, there’s so much more to a tale than its simplistic pitch. There’s nostalgia, plenty of humor, crazy intense scenes, an incredible love story, and even references to It just to make your inner fanboy/girl squeal with delight. Hulu just premiered the first episode of its TV version this past Presidents’ Day. We only have one episode to go by so far, so how does it hold up?
*Minor 1st episode & book spoilers below*
Overall, I think the first episode did a great job of setting the rules of time travel and getting the main story going at a quick pace. Perhaps the trickiest thing about this story is that the main antagonist is time itself. Without the aide of the minute detail you would get from a book, the filmmakers had to translate the tension. They did a great job of it with scenes like the car crashing into the telephone booth, Jake’s survival at a restaurant, and a fire at the bed and breakfast where he was staying. With that said, they did have to make some strange cuts to the source material in order to get the effect.
For one, after stepping into the past, Jake didn’t set out straight for Texas at the beginning of the book. He helped a girl escape her wheelchair-bound fate and saved the family of his adult student from a sledgehammer-wielding father (after a few failed attempts). Also, Jake had constant contact with Al, the owner of the diner, by going back and forth between his time and the past before Al died. Not having these scenes was jarring, but understandable. They would need way more episodes if they were to do everything literally by the book. And even then the pace may be too slow for TV. Luckily for us, by the end of the episode we see Jake drive off to save his student’s family. So that scene hasn’t been completely erased, just placed out of original order. I, for one, can’t wait to see that!
So far it looks like this series won’t veer too far off from the book. I’m glad because even though Stephen King gave an explanation to the big difference between the book and TV series, Under The Dome, in that case, I still was not happy. A lot of times I try to introduce family and friends into these amazing worlds that the master of horror has created, but the only way I can do that is through film. So when a show goes way off from the original story I’m not able to share what made it so great for me in the first place. I am happy with 11.22.63’s start and I look forward to seeing what happens in the coming weeks.
What did you think about the first episode of 11.22.63? Show yourself in the comments below.