Tuesday, May 10, 2016
SAM: Yeah, it’s an incredible story. He dressed up like a woman, hid in a hay wagon, crawled on his belly under barbed wire, swam across a couple of rivers and stowed away on a tramp steamer to get here.
DIANE: That’s amazing.
CARLA: They very next week the rest of his team came over on the Concorde.
That’s my problem with 11.22.63 (now streaming on Hulu). It’s a big shaggy dog story where a character must go to extraordinary lengths when far easier solutions are available.
The suspense goes away when you say, “Wait a minute. Superman’s not trapped. He can just punch a hole through the wall.” Or “She’s not marooned downtown in the middle of the night. She has her phone. She can call Uber.”
But in this case, Franco is armed with tons of research and is told he needs to go through many elaborate winding steps in order to complete his mission. The series is based on a Stephen King book, which I haven’t read, so I don’t know how faithfully it follows the novel. But the series feels like a whole lot of padding mixed with arbitrary rules (“you fuck with the future and the future fucks with you.”)
Franco has to track down Russian ex-pats and determine if they’re in cahoots with the CIA and if there was another similar murder and were they related and who recruited Oswald, and did Oswald eat borscht, and did he buy the gun with S&H Green Stamps, etc.? And along the way Franco has to save kids in rural Kentucky.
But the story, as told, requires him to return to 1960 and do three years of extensive preparation.
On 11.22.63 he anonymously informs the FBI and Dallas police of a possible assassination attempt. Please have them send officers to the book depository.
Throw something in the street, which blocks the motorcade’s path so it has to take an alternate route. Alternate routes are always in place.
They establish that he can bring his iPhone along on the journey. And certain features still work like playing videos. Download the Zapruder film, march into the FBI, say you’re from the future, show the iPhone to prove it, teach them how to play Angry Birds, take a few selfies, explain that there will be an assassination at the appointed time, and show the film. I think that would be sufficient for the FBI to send Mulder & Scully to the book depository for a look-see and re-route the motorcade.
What’s most disappointing is that I was really looking forward to 11.22.63. Great cast and I love the time period. But to paraphrase: Fuck with storytelling and storytelling fucks with you.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM