11.22.63 – Other Voices, Other Rooms

A two year jump forward for James Franco. Will Lee Harvey Oswald be revealed to be a lone gunman, a CIA plant or Russian stooge?

It’s November 1st, 1960 and Jake drives through dark of night and hard of rain. Fresh from a murder to save a family of the past and a man in the future, he has to reveal his secrets to Bill Turcotte at gunpoint. Bill’s balance of suspicion and paranoia, and pleading anguished hope, balances well against Jake’s almost blithe resignation of such a strange situation.

It’s odd seeing that first shot of the infamous Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, the building from which Lee Harvey Oswald possibly took his lethal shot at JFK. As Jake and Bill stand in the deserted road, this now is when past, present, future and potential futures seem to collide with each other.

A surprising encounter puts them on the path of Jack Ruby, the man destined to shoot Lee Harvey Oswald two days after JFK dies. This seems to be in contrast with the theme that ‘time pushes back’, relying too much on coincidence, and yet it still sort of works. The first sighting of Oswald though, that’s all planned, if a little brief; Brief, but escalating.

After establishing the situation of 1960, the narrative jumps forward to 1962. Jake is well-established as a teacher, which is where he is enchanted by Miss Sadie Dunhill, a librarian at his school. As she was one of the first people he bumped into in 1960, again we fall back into apparent coincidence, of a smoothing of the ways, with regards to the inertia of time. This though is only a small wrinkle in an otherwise well-executed episode. The misogyny and racism of the 1960s is dealt with deftly after being downplayed for a little while. Jake, a man out of time, certainly can’t do this without repercussions.

The narrative maintains a good pace, the cinematography continues to be top-notch and the acting show excellent production values beyond what one might expect on TV. The nature of the episodes do mean that concepts seem to be being applied somewhat patchwork, but the general thrust continues to be sound.

Stephan Burn

Updated: Apr 29, 2016

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