11/22/63 by Stephen King is a fabulous novel. It's one of the best books I've read in years. It's so exciting and intriguing in parts that I forgot to breathe. It's so emotional in others that I cried. It's an absolutely wonderful book I would recommend to anyone. So the news of the series on Hulu had me excited. Not too excited, mind you. Movies and TV shows based on King's works have a spotty track record when it comes to quality. But, still, the combination of King, J.J. Abrams and James Franco gave me some hope. So, imagine my delight when I reached the end of the first episode of this eight episode event and was completely and utterly satisfied with what I had just watched!
The story follows Jake Epping, an English teacher in a small town in Maine. Pretty much all Jake has is teaching. His wife just left him, so he devotes all his time to his students: high school kids during the day, adults looking to get a GED at night. But his life is forever changed one day while eating at a diner owned by a man named Al Templeton. One moment Al is just fine; happy, healthy and full of life. He goes into a closet in the back and two minutes later comes out old, weathered, coughing blood, barely able to stand. He tells Jake he has cancer. Jake, obviously confused, asks how it's possible for a man to come down with terminal cancer in two minutes.
The explanation he receives is astounding. Al tells him to go into the closet. Jake does. He walks all the way to the back and suddenly falls into the street...in the past. See, the closet goes back to 1960. That's where Al went. And no matter how long you stay in the past, when you walk back to our time, it's only two minutes later.
Now the real story begins. Having shown Jake the portal to the past, Al tasks him with a mission: go back and stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Al reasons that many of the horrible events of the last few decades can all be traced back to that one event, and tells Jake he tried to stop it himself, but got cancer and was unable to finish.
I'd love to tell you the rest, but you have to see it for yourself. It's only on Hulu, which is a bit of a pain, but, really, there's so much on Hulu anyway that even if you don't want to get it just for this, you'll get your money's worth.
The story was changed in a few places from the book, but I found I didn't care. The changes served the way they are trying to tell this story on the screen. The production is beautiful, the acting is great and it really leaves you (well, me, at least) wanting to see the rest. It's a great start at bringing this story to life, I hope stays that way.
Final Grade: A