Commentary

Hulu's Disappointing "11.22.63" Event

Like a lot of people I was as excited about the coming of Hulu’s new “11.22.63.” for the new direction it could take Hulu as for the drama itself. It’s a sci-fi series about a regular guy, played by James Franco, who is given the ability, and the duty, to travel back in time to change history so that on that day, John F. Kennedy is not assassinated.  It’s based on Stephen King’s novel.

A lot seems to be riding on the success of “11.22.63” because it smells like a statement drama. It has big star like James Franco, an author like King and an executive producing army that includes J.J. Abrams.

As you have noticed, Hulu is not the first streaming service you think of when it comes to original drama, and it’s only third by default. As Wired asked, “Quick: name the first Hulu original show. Name any Hulu original show before six months ago. You probably can’t…”

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Unfortunately, I’m not sure “11.22..63” made the statement Hulu hoped for. It’s awfully unfair to judge a big project based one show,  but the premiere didn't create much anticipation about what comes next.

Hulu doesn't go for that binge stuff. But “11.22.63” could have done better by showing more than the premiere set-the-table episode. Instead, Hulu wants you back you to come back next Monday for another chapter.

I don’t think TV fare is consumed like that anymore. Unlike network TV, which can promo its fledgling series ‘til you gag, Hulu and Netflix and Amazon projects have to depend on a good sample and word-of-mouth raves in overdrive.

I don’t think “11.22.63” is going to get that, which is bad news for Hulu. It’s spending over a billion dollars this year to ramp up its content.

Other projects precede “11.22.63.” Hulu earlier unveiled “Difficult People,” a sitcom exec.produced by Amy Poehler and starring Billy Eichner and creator Julie Klausner, which got decent reviews. But its mean spirited premise is an acquired taste-- best enjoyed by trolls. “Casual,” another comedy exec produced by Jason Reitman, centers on a narcissistic brother who’s gotten rich from an online dating service,his recently divorced therapist sister who moves in with him after the split up, and their mostly crazy Californiaized extended family.

It’s all right. And a couple other shows in the pipeline sound interesting enough. But it’s all less than what Hulu could have done. Intent on making a name for itself as a producer of original fare, not network reruns, the content  that seems to have made the biggest splash so far are.  .  .”Seinfeld” reruns.

pj@mediapost.com

1 comment about "Hulu's Disappointing "11.22.63" Event".
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  1. Christina Ricucci from Millenia 3 Communications, February 17, 2016 at 6:19 p.m.

    Having read the book in less than 48 hours, there's no way I'd sit still for 8 weeks to see Hulu's version. It's one of those books that keeps you from getting enough sleep because it's hard to put down. Of course, a TV or online series can drag out the story, add twists and turns, and leave you wanting more; but even if it's that good, I'd wait until the series ended and then binge watch. It will be interesting to see if Hulu gets its money's worth on this one.

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