If there’s one thing that J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot knows, it’s televised time travel and parallel universes. Wait, that’s two things. Somebody go back in time and change that. Lost, Fringe and Alcatraz – in that order – handled those subjects as intriguingly as any other TV show, though Alcatraz got almost everything else wrong. And now a Stephen King novel will serve as their source material.
Bad Robot is acquiring the rights to King’s 2011 novel 11/22/63. The deal is being done through Warner Bros. TV, and Deadline’s sources say the plan is to turn the book into a series or miniseries. King’s Under the Dome is
coming to CBS this summer, and will be the first of his novels to get turned into a full series, which should help to save it from the corny depths that King’s miniseries adaptations usually fall into. (For the record, Haven was barely an adaptation of The Colorado Kid and Nightmares and Dreamscapes was a collection, not a novel.)
NBC’s Revolution, another Bad Robot production, was just renewed for a second season, as was their CBS series Person of Interest, and the company has been looking to branch their TV projects into cable territory.
I’m a huge King fan (and apologist, on occasion), but I can objectively call 11/22/63 King’s best long-form work in years, and doesn’t suffer from the bloated plot, hokey characters or disappointing ending that repeatedly plagued his books. It centers on English teacher Jake Epping, who travels through a time portal back to 9/9/1958, tasked by a friend with stopping Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination of John. F. Kennedy. Admittedly, the sci-fi aspects of the novel are limited to King’s take on time travel and a few disturbing sequences, but it’s definitely a hero’s journey on par with that of Luke Skywalker. And it’s one of King’s most emotionally-driven stories, and is filled with a lot of historical fun.
Will it be better than Jonathan Demme’s version? Probably, since editing Epping’s story down to feature-length would remove a lot of what makes it memorable.