11.22.63 is Hulu’s House of Cards. I can already tell this is going to truly kick off Hulu’s original programming in a proper manner. Sure, Hulu has had original shows on its service already, but it was nothing too special. This is what happened with Netflix and House of Cards. It showed you don’t need a network like CBS or AMC to produce a good TV show, it just took a while for Netflix to get it just right. Now Hulu has done the same with 11.22.63.
— 112263OnHulu (@112263OnHulu) February 17, 2016
11.22.63 is a Hulu original based off of the Stephen King novel of the same name. An ordinary English teacher by the name of Jake Epping finds a closet in his friends dinner that is actually a portal to the 1960’s. Once Jake comes back to the present, his friend tasks him with stopping the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Quite a lot to take in, right? After much convincing, Jake accepts and throws himself into the charming era of the 1960’s. With only enough money to buy himself some new clothes and a car, Jake has three years to find out if it was really Lee Harvey Oswald that killed JFK and stop whoever it was that committed the fateful act on the tragic day in 1963. Jake also attempts to take advantage of the past to change things in his personal life in the present day, but this may do more harm than good.
When this show was brought to my attention, the things that really intrigued me were the three big names attached to the project. Director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams, Acclaimed novelist, Stephen King, and the incredibly talented, James Franco. It’s rare when you get three massive names like this working on one very ambitious project like this, so right off the bat, I was sold. Then I was told the actual concept of the show which sold me even more. Time travel is unique, JFK assassination conspiracy theories are interesting to me, mesh those two together with the three massive names I mentioned previously, you’ve got the most interesting premise for a story in years.
The show does some unique things with time travel that I have personally never seen explored in any time travel story. For example, Jake’s friend, Al Templeton, who owns the diner with the portal to the 1960’s, goes through the portal and comes back to the present all while Jake is sifting through divorce papers with his soon to be ex-wife. This takes about two minutes, and it is later revealed that Al was in the 1960’s for a total of two years but in present day he was only gone for two minutes. In the two minutes, he was gone, he developed cancer. So, he was aging and slowly dying while in the 1960’s and these things will carry over with him when he returns to the present day. This is just one of the many unique things the show does and I am excited to see what other creative and ingenious things they come up with.
Anyone who worked on the set design for 11.22.63 should be applauded for nailing the accuracy of the period. We’ve seen Mad Men replicate the 60’s and 70’s in a bustling New York City, but no modern TV shows that I can think of have shown a small town like this depicted in this time period. Everything looks so beautiful. There are so many eye-popping colors, the attire and cars people have are so exotic compared to today’s standards, it’s a beautiful setting filled with things to look at. It feels like they nailed the setting perfectly.
Everything about 11.22.63 is brilliant. The only bad thing is, we will be saying goodbye to it very soon. As the show is just an eight episode mini-series, and with one down that means there are only seven left to go. Regardless, I am excited to see how it plays out and how the character of Jake Epping develops and adapts to his new surroundings. Come back next week to see my review of episode two “The Kill Floor” when it debuts on Hulu.