Wednesday, 13 April 2016

11.22.63 - time travelling telly

A man looking at a 1957 Ford
Mmm, car porn!
Have you started watching 11.22.63? I've always felt no-one quite does nostalgia quite like Stephen King. My first encounter with any of his stories was the film Stand By Me, based on his short story, The Body. He somehow manages to conjure up a bright, sunlit past, yet one that is unsettling as you are aware that change is coming, whether that's simply growing up, or something worse. And the truth is that the past isn't a cosy place, because life itself isn't cosy, we all get hit by losses and pains large or small in our lifetimes. 11.22.63 epitomises that cosy-not-cosy feeling.
The premise of this eight-episode series is simple – and it's all over the trailers, so I'm not spoiling anything here. Jake Epping is a recently-divorced school teacher. Al, the man who runs the local diner reveals, because he is dying and can't complete his mission himself, that there's a door in his diner that leads back to 1960. Go through it, and you're there and can alter the past. Come back through it, and you arrive two minutes after you left. If you go back to 1960 again, it erases your previous trip. Al wants Jake to go back, prevent the death of JFK, which he believes will stop America being drawn into the Vietnam war. Of course, JFK wasn't killed in 1960, so it'll require Jake to live a few years in the past and work out who killed JFK, and why, ahead of that fatal day in Dallas. And the past doesn't want to be changed, so when he gets close to discovering something or changing things, the past will 'push back', it'll try to kill or injure him.
A man walking down a street in 1960
Jake's first task is to get a shave, haircut and suit, which looks much better
I really enjoyed the first episode. Visually, it's a delight. The 60s didn't really start to swing until later in the decade, so the world Jake goes back to is in many ways the tail of the 1950s. My first thought was, 'OMG, CAR PORN!' The cars in this programme are just lovely. Jake was instructed to buy something that'd go unnoticed, but who'd do that when faced with the automobiles of 1960? He buys a two-tone yellow and white beast of a car. (Google tells me it's a 1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Sunliner, for people who know cars better than me. I just think it's really cool.)

The costumes are equally lovely. (There's an interview with costume designer Roland Sanchez on FOX Uk's website, where he explains that he actually went for more of a late 50s look.) On the whole, they're normal, not ultra-glam, but that's still really engaging. This is Stephen King, so the sun is shining, which means men in suits or polo shirts and gab jackets, and women in wide-skirted, colourful dresses. When Jake starts investigating in Dallas, he does meet a woman outside the infamous Book Depository, and she's wearing the most gorgeous suit. All the attendees at a political rally for JFK are also very smart. Lots of little pillbox hats to drool over there. I've been developing a bit of a fashion crush on Jackie Kennedy as it is, so I'll be paying close attention to the costuming.

The story is also engaging, which is the most important thing. I admit to being not so concerned about Jake. However, we meet one character in the present who clearly lived through something horrendous in 1960, and I'm desperate for Jake to change it – though the past will push back. And can Jake stop JFK being killed? Will he ever go back through the door and leave the past as it was? I'm looking forward to finding out.

22.11.63 is on FOX UK on Sundays at 9pm.

28 comments :

  1. Hmmm...we just got a satellite dish but I haven't even been enthused enough about it to peruse through all the channels yet. We used to get FOX Macau But I don'y even know if there's a FOX India.
    I read all of Stephen King's works as a teen, loved them. I'd watch just for the late 50's fashions though!

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    1. It's really nicely done. I mainly watch FOX as it gets the new episodes of NCIS first - it's a rubbish show, but I am hooked!

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  2. I finished reading the book on Sunday and was really rattled by all the changes, not least of all by George Amberson becoming James Amberson. Also he first goes back to 1958 in the book and then there's the whole Sadie thing ... I did enjoy it on face value but I see no point in adapting something only to change it so. The changes just threw all my memories of the book off kilter.

    ps - his car was meant to be a ted and white Ford Sunliner. Grrrr!

    xx

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    1. I haven't read the book, so I'm guessing that's a good thing, otherwise i'd probably share your annoyance.

      I struggle to tell different cars apart, certain exceptions aside (I think it's related to my prospoagnosia). I even know our own car from the numberplate rather than what it looks like. So I know the car is a nice car, and that's as far as it goes with me.

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  3. Stephen King and time travel sounds right up Jon's street. Unfortunately for him we've only got Freeview, not sure if Fox is available.
    Talking of vintage hats I've got to go and look at a collection of "very old" hats this week. The owner has just died at the age of 95 - very curious to see how old they are! xxx

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    1. Are they the hats you blogged? There are some tremendous ones there. I have a tiny head, which means vintage hats are the only ones that fit - high street ones are always too big.

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  4. Hadn't even heard of this!! We don't get many channels, so I miss most things unless they're on the main ones. I love a vintage car though x

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    1. It is a show full of Good Cars. It doesn'tn try to be ultra-fashionable in the costuming, which I like - you really do feel the characters are real people dressed as normal people do. As much as I love Agent Carter, the costumes are definitely showpieces.

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  5. Is Stephen King usually horror? I seem to have a vague idea he is usually. Anyway, I'll happily look at old cars and costumes any day of the week. When my boyfriend goes out the house, I'm a bit of a devil for Foyle's War. And actually at the moment The Durrells and Home Fires. Have you ever been in one of those huge 1950s cars? I haven't. Xxx

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    1. Usually, though not always, and odten with a huge dollop of nostalgia.

      I love Foyle's War too.

      I haven't been in one of those cars. Pete's aunt and uncle have a 1930s one, but it's not huge, it's an Austin Seven.

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  6. I hadn't heard of 11.22.63. It seems interesting though, so I'll try to check it out. I absolutely loved Stand by Me! xxx

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    1. It's been pretty good so far! Episode two of eight has just been broadcast.

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  7. Another gem coming from you, Mim!
    You always have the "latest", and you keep me informed.
    Thanks for that.
    (I know I've said it - but, there can never be praises!)
    this series sounds quite intriguing. I'm putting it on my "to watch" list, and it just might go WAY UP, meaning it'll be seen right after I finish "Grantchester" (now THAT's a good one!)
    ..
    How are you these days?
    How's kitchen? How's garden?
    ...how are your Spain plans?!

    M.

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    1. The garden is great, and the Spain plans are all in place! I can't wait to go.

      It's a very good series so far, though the second episode really made me nervous.

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  8. I haven't even heard of this, but then we only have bog standard freeview TV. :(

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    1. I am a dreadful square-eyes. But you spend lots of time at the cinema!

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  9. I really do like the costumes in this a lot and the sets. I agree Stephen King is great with nostalgia but I do think the story had some slow parts and maybe the execution could have been a tiny bit better. I was glad that in the end he learned you don't mess with the time line becasue Im a big sci fi fan and I feel like dont mess with the time line is a core pat of the genre

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    1. I haven't got to the end yet, we're only up to episode two.

      (Don't start me on the nature of time; my husband did philosophy at university and he loves to quarrel with science-fiction on telly!)

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  10. We just finished watching this miniseries. Tony's a bigger Stephen King fan than me, but we both certainly enjoyed it - very much including the fashions and settings for me. Some of the small town scenes stirred up a lot of lovely nostalgia from me from my own youth, when I can still remember various parts of BC looking much the same (mid-century way).

    I certainly won't give anything away, but I was fairly pleased with the ending. Hope it sits well with you, too.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. The second episode really made me nervous, I hope some of the others are less scary. I'm glad to know the ending is decent.

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  11. I'm not really a King fan, but sometimes the stories work better as television and movies (I mean, the Shinning was okay).

    In 1960 my dad was still driving a '48 DeSoto. So *not* a cool 50's car!

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    1. I bet the car would look pretty cool today...

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  12. Oh this looks amazing and I had no idea about it! Will definitely be watching, gutted I've missed episode one though

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    1. It might be on catchup - I'm not sure how non-cable users would do it, but I can just go to my catchup menu.

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  13. I meant to set my TiVo for this before I went away and forgot! I have read the book though and though I'm not always King's biggest fan, I really enjoyed it. It did tug on the heartstrings however.

    Not surprised they've changed the time he goes back to, in the book he does have to hang around for an inordinate amount of time before he can try to do anything useful!

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    1. I haven't read the original - what time does he go back to in that?

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    2. I think 1958. Its a very long book!

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  14. We don't get Fox which is a shame as this sounds really interesting as an idea and I would love to see the costumes and styling!

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