What if you could change a terrible tragedy? Would you?
In this Hulu produced miniseries based on Stephen King’s book, James Franco stars as Jake Epping, a high school English teacher thrust into a time traveling mission filled with twists and turns.
After discovering that there’s a time portal in the back room of his friend Al’s burger joint that leads to the early 1960s, and that Al (Chris Cooper) has been diagnosed with cancer, thus rendering him unable to complete his plan to save JFK from assassination, Jake takes on the plan himself, finding friendship, love, and peril along the way.
You know, the one thing I’ll give to this series is that it educated me on a lot of things that I never knew. I always assume that Lee Harvey Oswald was a random nut who acted alone. I’m still not entirely convinced he wasn’t. However, when you consider that Oswald defected from America to Russia (its usually the other way around) and came back to America and befriended a wealthy Russian businessman with connections to the Russian government, plus a whole host of other irregularities, it does make you wonder if this might not have been the greatest conspiracy followed by the greatest coverup of all time.
I won’t bog you down by going into other issues surrounding the case. King does that well, in a fictional format that is thrilling to watch.
I wonder if this isn’t a book that King had in mind for a long time and perhaps published it later than he would have liked. Epping is a HS teacher, as King once was. King would have been a kid when national hero JFK was assassinated, ushering in a sad era for the country. Perhaps King always harbored a fantasy of being able to save him and this book brings that notion to life.
Anyway, it’s a fun series and the disparities between times are interesting. We see little differences throughout. Food wasn’t bogged down with preservatives back then, so Jake enjoys a good piece of fresh pie (in the book, it’s root beer). Then again, no one cared about the environment in the 1960s, so everything from factories to cars belched smoked with reckless abandon. Cars have gotten better. Factories? Could be better. At least people don’t whip trash out of their car windows anymore. I remember people doing that when I was a kid in the 1980s.
The series isn’t without its plotholes. Jake takes the mission on rather haphazardly without thinking. The typical “should we be messing with time” question of all time travel movies seems to go largely ignored until the end.