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Mini-Series Title: 11.22.63
Creator: Bridget Carpenter
Based on a Novel by: Stephen King
Stars: James Franco (Jake Epping), Sarah Gadon (Sadie Dunhill),
George MacKay (Bill Turcotte), Chris Cooper (Al
Templeton), and Daniel Webber (Lee Harvey Oswald)
SHOW RATING OVERVIEW
Overall: ★★★★ (3.333)
A teacher discovers a time portal that leads to October 21st, 1960 and goes on a quest to try and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which is complicated by the presence of Lee Harvey Oswald and the fact that he’s falling in love with the past itself. Written by Anonymous
MY 2 CENTS:
I was so excited when I finished the novel that I immediately turned on Hulu to find the mini-series. My hope, was to watch the story that Stephen King had created come to live. I wanted to watch as Jake Epping discovered the “rabbit hole”, see how he would handle Harry Dunning’s murderous father, watch him plot and plan how he would save the president, and… I wanted to watch as his relationship with Sadie turned from friendship to love.
Did Hulu give that to me? NO!
If I had watched the Hulu mini-series prior to reading the novel, maybe I would have enjoyed it more. However, having known the characters so well, having known what actually happened in the novel, I was SO DISAPPOINTED by the mini-series.
Although I think James Franco is a fine actor, I don’t feel he was the right choice for Epping. He just isn’t strong enough and he doesn’t feel the part. Chris Cooper was wonderful as Al Templeton as was Sarah Gadon who played Sadie Dunhill.
There were so many deviations… changes that were made when the mini-series was developed, things that just didn’t have to be changed. Some of the minor ones that just irked me a bit where:
- The book, like so many Stephen King books, connects to other Stephen King books. In particular the mention of the Derry murders… IT! We even get to see two of the young children, Beverly Marsh and Richie Tozier, while Epping is in Derry… However, the mini-series leaves this out… WHY?
- In the book, we get to see Epping learn about how his actions in the past affect the future when he first goes back to stop Harry Dunning’s father from killing his family. When he returns to the present, he finds out that Harry once alive is not dead. He then goes back to the past to try again… Why the producers decided to take that out, I don’t understand.
- The relationship between Al Templeton and Jake Epping is beautifully written in the book… We also get a better feel for why Al chose Jake to share his secret and we understand more why Jake decides to go. In the mini-series, the spread the conversation between Al and Jake out across the series, instead of putting it all up front and then letting Al die (LIKE IN THE BOOK). The book gives a finality to the relationship, an urgency to Jake’s decision, and a purpose that the series didn’t do.
- There is virtually no character development for the students at the school Jake teaches at in the past. We don’t get to know Bobbi Jill Allnut or Mike Coslaw. We don’t watch them grow as people. The book allows these smaller characters to shine… I think the producers forgot they even existed.
That was just 4 of MANY minor differences that bothered me along the way… The thing is, the book was 849 pages, that was more than enough material to make a wonderful 8-episode series. Yet, I found myself saying “That wasn’t in the book,” “That never happened in the novel,” over and over as I watched the series. WHY?
NOW FOR SOME OF THE BIG STUFF…
- In the series Bill Turcotte, played by George MacKay, was a huge part of the story. He became Epping’s side-kick… his brother from another mother… his support system. WHAT? WHY? In the book, King left Epping to carry the responsibility of saving the president on his own. Epping didn’t run around telling everyone he was from the future, that the president was going to die, and soliciting help. In the novel, Bill Turcotte played a small role, important but small, and his role ended when Epping killed Harry’s father. That is where it should have ended in the show as well.
- Again, with Bill Turcotte… WHY did the series have to make Bill Turcotte fall in love with Lee Harvey Oswald’s wife? That side story was not in the book, did not further the story in any way, and was completely unnecessary!
- Relationship and character development are one of Stephen King’s strongest talents… he laid out the unconventional (for the early 60s) interracial relationship between Deke Simmons (played by Nick Searcy) and Mia Mimi Corcoran (played by Tonya Pinkins) so beautifully. In the series… well, their relationship didn’t really exist. We never got to see that love affair, and yet we were supposed to just believe Mimi when she told Jake that she was dying and that she loved Deke and he loved her. We didn’t get to see the wedding… but they, at some point, got married. SHOW US, the book did!
- Mia Mimi Corcoran… She was a pivotal character in the novel and yet, the series all but reduced her role to almost nothing. We didn’t celebrate her wedding to Deke Simmons, we didn’t mourn her when she died… in fact, the viewer has no idea she died… she is just gone one day and eventually there is mention of her death.
I didn’t list everything, I don’t have time. I guess I just wanted to prove a point… the book is often times (99%) better than this show/series/movie. This novel was fantastic and I highly recommend reading it, but the series more than disappointed me. Purchase your copy of 11/22/63 by Stephen King HERE!
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