It doesn’t stretch your credulity much when you hear that J.J. Abrams is connected to a story that involves time travel. He was involved in that Alcatraz show, his Star Trek movies touch on the idea, and Lost is, well Lost is Lost. But when you hear the names Stephen King and Hulu, time travel may not be the first thing that immediately comes to mind. However, all three of these entities are coming together for an event series based on King’s novel 11/22/63, which involves jumping back through the years.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the online streaming service has given the project a straight-to-series order. That’s not much of a surprise. An adaptation of King’s Under the Dome has had some success as a series on CBS, and Abrams continues to be all over the board, directing Star Wars: Episode VII and producing anything that comes into his line of sight. He has, however, had a run of bad luck on the small screen, with two notable shows, Almost Human and Believe, getting the axe after a single season last year (and Revolution limped through two seasons). But when has that ever stopped him before?
Hulu has ordered nine episodes of 11/22/63, though they have left the door open for more if there is a call for them. Maybe they should just stick to the script and cut it off after one season. Under the Dome was originally supposed to be just a “summer event series,” and when CBS tried to tack on another season, viewers largely stayed away and ratings never quite recovered.
And the story is very specific, and kind of limited in scope. The action revolves around a high school English teacher named Jake Epping, from Maine (where else?), who travels through a portal he finds in the pantry of a diner. He finds himself 1958 and decides to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. There he runs into problems, like falling in love, encountering Lee Harvey Oswald, and time itself, which doesn’t want to be altered. It’s the kind of story that, if you try to push it too far, will just get ridiculous and come completely off the rails before long.
Bridget Carpenter (Dead Like Me, The Bionic Woman) will write the script and produce along with folks from Bad Robot and Warner Bros. Television. For their part, Hulu is trying to compete with other notable streaming services that are getting more heavily into producing original content, like Netflix and Amazon Prime. They’ve tried, but haven’t had much luck, and hope this will be their ticket.
Hulu Head of Content Craig Erwich said, “J.J. Abrams and Stephen King are two of the most celebrated storytellers of our time, and we are excited to be working with them and Warner Bros. Television to bring this unique take on one of the most seminal historic events of the 20th century to Hulu. 11/22/63 already resonated with audiences as a best-selling novel, and we are looking forward to bringing the riveting story to the screen.”
King added, “If I ever wrote a book that cries out for longform, event TV programming, 11/22/63 is it. I’m excited that it’s going to happen, and am looking forward to working with J.J. Abrams and the whole Bad Robot team.”
And never one to be left out, Abrams said, “I’ve been a fan of Stephen King since I was in junior high school. The chance to work with him at all, let alone on a story so compelling, emotional and imaginative, is a dream. We are thrilled to be working with Hulu on this very special project.”
There’s no timeline on 11/22/63 at the moment, but we’ll be keeping our eye on this one.