11.22.63 is an American science fiction thriller miniseries based on the novel 11/22/63 by Stephen King, and consisting of eight episodes. The series is executive-produced by J. J. Abrams, King, Bridget Carpenter and Bryan Burk, and produced by James Franco, who also has the main role. It premiered on Hulu on February 15, 2016, and was received positively by critics.
by Stephen King
|Developed by||Bridget Carpenter|
|Theme music composer||J. J. Abrams|
music by Alex Heffes
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||8|
|Cinematography||David Katznelson, DFF, BSC|
|Editor(s)||Dorian Harris, ACE|
|Running time||44–81 minutes|
|Original release||February 15 –|
April 4, 2016
Jake Epping (James Franco), a recently divorced English teacher from Lisbon, Maine, is presented with the chance to travel back in time to 1960 by his long-time friend Al Templeton (Chris Cooper). He is persuaded into going in an attempt to prevent the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963; however, he becomes attached to the life he makes in the past, which could be the mission's undoing. He must find a way to secretly gather information about people and events leading up to the assassination while also creating and maintaining a new life to avoid suspicion.
Cast and characters
Recurring and guest
- Cherry Jones as Marguerite Oswald
- Kevin J. O'Connor as the Yellow Card Man
- T. R. Knight as Johnny Clayton
- Josh Duhamel as Frank Dunning
- Joanna Douglas as Doris Dunning
- Nick Searcy as Deke Simmons
- Jonny Coyne as George de Mohrenschildt
- Tonya Pinkins as Mimi Corcoran
- Brooklyn Sudano as Christy Epping
- Leon Rippy as Harry Dunning
- Juliette Angelo as Bobbi Jill Allnut
- Braeden Lemasters as Mike Coslaw
- Anthony Colonello as Clifford
- Gregory North as General Edwin Walker
- Gil Bellows as Agent Hosty
- Grantham Coleman as Bonnie Ray Williams
- Michael O'Neill as Arliss Price
- Annette O'Toole as Edna Price
- Antoni Corone as Jack Ruby
- Bob Stephenson as Silent Mike
- Wilbur Fitzgerald as Captain Will Fritz
- Constance Towers as Old Sadie
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date||Prod.|
|1||"The Rabbit Hole"||Kevin Macdonald||Bridget Carpenter||February 15, 2016||4X6451|
|Cafe owner Al Templeton reveals a time portal to October 21, 1960 in his closet to his friend, English teacher Jake Epping. Dying of cancer, Al asks Jake to travel back to the 1960s and prevent the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy. Al explains his own past attempts and mistakes to Jake to stop it, noting his apparent onset of cancer was from spending extended time in the past. Armed with Al's research, Jake goes to 1960 and surveils a Kennedy intimate, believed to be Lee Harvey Oswald's handler. He finds that the past is "pushing back" as accidents and incidents make it difficult for him to achieve his goals. He returns to his lodgings to find them burning, Al's notes nearly all destroyed, and the landlady's son dead. He decides to give up, and "return to Maine", but stops to try and prevent a multiple murder he had heard about in the present.|
|2||"The Kill Floor"||Fred Toye||Quinton Peeples||February 22, 2016||4X6453|
|In 1960 Kentucky, Jake tests his ability to alter the past by attempting to prevent the murder of the family of one of his future night school students, Harry Dunning, by their father, an abusive alcoholic who had previously killed the sister (and her baby) of Bill Turcotte, who discovers Jake is from the future.|
|3||"Other Voices, Other Rooms"||James Strong||Brian Nelson||February 29, 2016||4X6454|
|With the help of Bill Turcotte, Jake moves to Fort Worth and finds a job at a school in the nearby town of Jodie, where he forms a connection with a librarian, Sadie Dunhill. Jake and Bill surveil Lee Harvey Oswald, who has just returned from Russia.|
|4||"The Eyes of Texas"||Fred Toye||Quinton Peeples & Bridgette Wilson||March 7, 2016||4X6455|
|Oswald practices assembling his sniper rifle and takes the infamous picture with it. Jake and Bill follow Oswald and George to a brothel but things go wrong. Miss Mimi confronts Jake after discovering he's using a fake name, forcing Jake to make up a cover story. Sadie and Jake's relationship is tested by the return of Sadie's abusive ex-husband, Johnny Clayton, who refuses to finalize their divorce. Sadie discovers recordings of Oswald in the basement of Jake's house.|
|5||"The Truth"||James Franco||Bridget Carpenter||March 14, 2016||4X6456|
|Jake and Bill get ready to discover if Oswald acted alone in shooting General Walker. However, Time intervenes by distracting Bill with an illusion of his sister. Meanwhile, Johnny demands Jake come to Sadie's house where he holds both hostage with a gun after disfiguring her. Eventually, Jake and Sadie blind and then kill Johnny. Later at the hospital Jake decides to reveal to Sadie the whole truth about who he really is and where he's from.|
|6||"Happy Birthday, Lee Harvey Oswald"||John David Coles||Bridget Carpenter||March 21, 2016||4X6457|
|Jake discovers Bill has become intimately involved with Marina and has become Oswald's best friend. Bill reveals to Oswald that his apartment is under surveillance. Fearing Bill will become the second shooter, Jake has him committed. Time begins to push back by threatening Sadie's life during plastic surgery. After finding out that Oswald is acting alone and without CIA backing, Jake decides to kill Oswald. Before he can, he's attacked by his bookie and his thugs leaving him unable to remember anything.|
|7||"Soldier Boy"||James Kent||Bridget Carpenter & Quinton Peeples||March 28, 2016||4X6458|
|Jake wakes from his coma just days before the assassination date, suffering from amnesia. Sadie tries to help him as he struggles to remember what he needs to do. They visit Bill at the asylum in the hope that he will jog Jake's memory; however, addled by his treatment and Jake's insistence that time travel is real, Bill commits suicide. Jake relies on Sadie's help to recover his memory. Jake has full recall after a visit with Oswald in his house.|
|8||"The Day in Question"||James Strong||Bridget Carpenter||April 4, 2016||4X6459|
|During the events of November 22, 1963, Jake and Sadie struggle against the past on their way to the final confrontation with Oswald. Jake stops Oswald but during the scuffle, Sadie is killed. Jake travels back to 2016 only to find it has become a wasteland. Through Harry Dunning he learns that after JFK served two terms, Alabama Governor George Wallace was elected president. War broke out and although Kennedy founded a series of refugee camps, there is great suffering in the world. A resigned Jake travels back to October 1960, thus resetting the timeline, where he immediately meets Sadie again, but decides not to pursue a relationship in order to save her life. In the present Jake travels back to Jodie and finds Sadie in her 80s receiving a prestigious lifetime achievement award for her life's work. Jake shares a dance with her.|
In August 2011, before the novel's release, it was announced that Jonathan Demme had attached himself to write, produce, and direct a film adaptation of 11/22/63 with King serving as executive producer. However, in December 2012, Demme announced that he had withdrawn from the project, after disagreeing with King over what to include in the script.
On April 26, 2013, it was reported that Warner Bros. Television and J. J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions were in negotiations for the rights to adapt the novel as a TV series or miniseries. On September 22, 2014, it was announced that a TV series based on the novel was picked up by Hulu. Carol Spier would be a production designer. The first trailer for the series was released on November 19, 2015.
When asked about developing a sequel series, King stated, "I'd love to revisit Jake and Sadie, and also revisit the rabbit hole that dumps people into the past, but sometimes it's best not to go back for a second helping."
James Franco was chosen to star as the character of Jake Epping. After reading the novel, Franco contacted King about the rights to adapt it to film only to be told that Abrams had already acquired them. Franco wrote an essay about the book for Vice, which was noticed by Abrams, and tweeted about his disappointment at not getting the film rights, which was noticed by Bridget Carpenter. Soon after, they offered him the lead role. He accepted the role under the condition that he would be able to direct part of the series. Sarah Gadon was cast for the role of Sadie Dunhill. She was interested in the role in part because it gave her the opportunity to work with Abrams.
Filming began on June 9, 2015, in Hespeler, Ontario. Filming during June 2015 also took place in Guelph, Ontario, as well as in Ayr, Ontario, at the Queen's Tavern, Hamilton, Ontario, and in Knowles Restaurant in Dunnville, Ontario during September 2015. In early October, the production moved to Dallas to film exterior locations at Dealey Plaza. During this time, the filming of various scenes during rush hour caused bumper to bumper traffic in the surrounding streets.
The show has garnered positive reviews from most critics. Based on 51 reviews, the show carries an 80% "certified fresh" rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes where the consensus states: "Though the execution feels almost as dated as the period it represents, 11.22.63 gradually reveals a compelling, well-performed series of events." On Metacritic, the show has a rating of 69 out of 100, based on 35 reviews, signifying "generally positive reviews".
Jack Moore of GQ commented that "the show is moody and supernatural, while somehow also remaining grounded and full of heart", and lauded Franco as the show's standout, saying "what Franco gives is a vanity-free, indulgence-free performance that feels like the work of an Old Hollywood legend. It's earnest and full-hearted." Alan Sepinwall also acclaimed Franco, stating "Franco's a revelation as Jake. He's an immensely talented actor and he's got the star quality you need to carry something this crazy, and this long." Vicki Hyman of the Newark Star-Ledger praised the performances of Franco and Gadon, writing: "Their stirring romance carries with it the same whiff of doom as Epping's visits to Dealey Plaza, and gives what could be merely an interesting and handsomely-made take on the conspiracy thriller genre more texture and depth, resonating across the ages." Hank Stuever of The Washington Post wrote that "King’s work doesn’t always happily travel through the portal connecting the page to the TV screen, but Hulu scores with an impressively stout-hearted, eight-part adaptation of 11/22/63."
On the other hand, Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly had a more mixed reaction and criticized Franco's performance, calling it "low-watt" and "disinterested". He wrote "11.22.63 reaches some thoughtful, moving conclusions, but oh, what could have been with a more engaged star. If only there were a time machine to fix that mistake." Caroline Framke of Vox describes Franco's performance as inconsistent from scene to scene, but also that the show itself creates even more ambiguity with his character. She wrote "While he's technically old enough to portray 37-year-old Jake, Franco certainly doesn't read as anywhere close to 37, or the world-weariness Jake's supposed to exhibit" Slate author Willa Paskin believes though Franco is well known and well accomplished, he can't seem to get the "average guy" act right for this series.
11.22.63 was released on DVD and Blu-ray on August 9, 2016 in Region 1. The release includes all eight episodes, as well as a special feature titled "When the Future Fights Back", where King, Abrams, Carpenter and Franco talk about elements of the production that turned King's novel into an event series.
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