TV Show Review – 11.22.63

TV Show Review – 11.22.63


Rating:  4 (out of 5).  Hulu’s newest original series, 11.22.63, stars James Franco as the time traveling school teacher, Jake Epping from Stephen King’s novel, who is trying to get through a divorce when he gets a call asking him to go back in time to stop the assassination of John Kennedy.  While most of the critics give this a thumbs up, there are a couple who thought it took too long to get to the meat of the show.  Overall they were impressed, but there was quite a difference of opinion about Franco’s performance.

The New York Times calls this a “capable adaptation” and say it is “appealing enough to snag a general audience and yet different enough from the book to give hard-core King fans plenty to grouse about.”

The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch feels that J.J. Abrams took the long book and “ tightened the action without losing the charm of some sweet side stories.”

Time thinks “the miniseries falls short, but has a darkly thrilling undercurrent all the same.” They think Franco is “not committed enough to the show’s strangeness to compel us” and say “Eight episodes, here, is too many; the series goes down several blind alleys before it gets to Dealey Plaza. But its best moments thrum with tension.”

Forbes describes this as “what would happen if HBO attempted popcorn escapism instead of Emmy bait drama with its mini-series… and that’s not an insult.”

Variety calls it an “uneven affair, at times feeling as if it’s meandering through history en route to its frantic closing kick.” They say “11/22/63” is certainly “ impeccable in terms of its period look, and impressive in its casting, even if some of the big names, like Cherry Jones, don’t have all that much to do.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune wonders “No one would figure going back in time to spare the life of JFK would be easy or quick. But does it have to drag on so long and be this tiresome to watch?” They say “The trouble with “11.22.63”: Jake’s mission is a convoluted slog that may very well tempt the viewer to take a break until Episode 8, when the do-or-die moment in Dallas arrives at last.”

Newsday simply states “A Hulu winner.”

The Wall Street Journal writes “Much about this eight-part series, based on a novel by Stephen King and adapted for television by Bridget Carpenter, is, in addition, fraught with both little and not-so-little comprehension problems…. But there is much here that has undeniable appeal, most of it having to do with the impressive period detail of the early ’60s.”

The Washington Post calls this “impressively stout-hearted” and says it’s a “fun and easily absorbing thriller wrapped inside a cautionary tale about indulging in nostalgia — and best of all, it has a definite and emotionally satisfying conclusion.”

The Hollywood Reporter thinks “If this time-travel thriller from Stephen King and J.J. Abrams works, it’s because James Franco goes all-in with his performance as a small-town teacher tasked with stopping the assassination of JFK.”

The Oregonian thinks “11.22.63 sometimes feels like a circa-1960s, stranger-comes-to-town TV series.” They say “It’s totally far-fetched, but the roles are so well-cast and the 1960s texture so evocatively re-created (Jake goes from starry-eyed nostalgia to shock when he sees segregated bathroom signs) that “11.22.63” makes the trip back in time both suspenseful and enjoyable.”

The San Francisco Chronicle says “The series’ depiction of the early ’60s is lavish and instantly convincing — so dazzling that we can overlook the weaker moments in Franco’s performance.” They think “Costumes, cars, signage, music, hairstyles, language and, most important, social and political attitudes have been re-created to convincing perfection. The attention to detail provides an indispensable foundation for the time-twisting theme of the story.”

Entertainment Weekly gives it a C+ stating “11.22.63 reaches some thoughtful, moving conclusions, but oh, what coulda been with a more engaged star. If only there were a time machine to fix that mistake.”

Las Vegas Weekly thinks it is “often slow going, especially in the middle.” They say “while Gadon is charming, Franco plays his entire role with a smirk, like he can’t believe he’s stuck in this ridiculous show.” They call it “a really long Twilight Zone episode.”

USA Today writes “despite having placed his well-reviewed book into the extremely able hands of producer J.J. Abrams, he has once again landed on “dull,” thanks to a screenplay by Bridget Carpenter that never begins to justify the miniseries’ eight-hour length and a performance from star James Francothat practically defines erratic.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer thinks “Executive producer Bridget Carpenter’s adaptation doesn’t always feel as streamlined as it is.”

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