Adapting JFK and Lizzie Borden – Quality vs. Schlock

13 Feb


I’m excited about this adaptation of Stephen King’s “11/22/63”  novel which I read last summer.  Adapted from a very creative, imaginative and riveting novel on the President Kennedy assassination typical, of King’s superlative writing, this 9 part mini series  (no premiere date yet set) should also prove to be inventive, creative, well produced, and directed (Bridget Carpenter)..  And the acting chops of James Franco makes it even more exciting to me.  So far this adaptation has all the ear marks of being of high quality.

Here we have a fictionalized account of a real life historical event that was front page news the world over.  An event so catastrophic to our country and had significant impacts the world over.  We all knew or now know of John F. Kennedy, his family, his background. Television gave us a visual play by play of his assassination.  Taking this historical event and adapting it onto a relatively new format shown on Hulu, we anticipate the liberties that will be taken but don’t much mind because the adapted plot is already cleverly contrived and promises to be well executed and produced.


With the “Lizzie Borden Chronlcles” we already have more than just a glimpse of what to expect from this “fictionalized”  8-part mini-series of what “could have” happened to Lizzie post Trial premiering in April.  We already know the manner in which Lizzie is presented – young, psychotic, over-sexed…..  Oh well.   Most of what constitutes this mess could be forgiven if it were a solid, quality piece of television drama.  But it is not.  Nor will it be.  Adaptation of the basic story already sold out artistic excellence for ratings.

Adapted stories, i.e., adaptations of real life events and people from history or contemporary times is as old as the early performances at the Globe Theater in Queen Elizabeth the First’s  time.  But in judging the quality of such productions we must factor in the writing, the directing, the acting – the entire production.  What separates a “good adaptation” from schlock is the end product of all these things.


And any past community college drama teacher (yes, you, Stefani Koorey) – should know that.  Then again, perhaps Ms. Koorey didn’t  teach her students to differentiate between the two.

As to her assertion that it will make people want to read more about Lizzie Borden – I can only say:  “Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter” hasn’t exactly caused a rush of tourists to Gettysburg nor increased interest in our 16th President.

“Lizzie Borden Had An Axe” was a schlock production giving us every reason to believe (not to mention the previews, writer, director and producers) that the new adaptation,  “The Lizzie Borden Chronicles” will be as well. By contrast, there’s a reason why The Walking Dead is the #1 TV show in the country.

Judging from the cast, director, writer, and  producers of “11-22-63”, we can be much more hopeful.


Posted by on February 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


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4 responses to “Adapting JFK and Lizzie Borden – Quality vs. Schlock

  1. Daughter of Anarchy

    February 13, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    Jonathan Banks of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul doesn’t think Lizzie is schlock:

    Where is she oversexed? You keep saying that but it hasn’t been in any of the previews.

    Maybe you should watch an episode or two before prejudging it. It airs on April 5 you won’t have to wait long. But based on all these posts about it, it doesn’t sound like you’ll have an open mind.

    • phayemuss

      February 14, 2015 at 1:09 PM

      Kathy – do you honestly think an actor would bad mouth a production he appears in and yet to be aired? Part of their contracts involve “promotion” appearances and interviews to promote the film, not to demean it. In any case, “Lizzie” kills Jonathan Banks in his first appearance so we won’t be seeing much of him.

      Christina’s portrayal of Lizzie in Lizzie Borden Had an Axe clearly shows her sexualized persona to the extreme. She’s a serial killer. And she plays her as psychotic judging from the previews. I have an open mind. My mind is so open it can filter what is good quality drama (i.e, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, the Sopranos) from schlock, i.e., Lizzie’ Borden’s Revenge, Halloween Part XII, Flowers in the Attic, etc. The Walking Dead is an excellent adaptation of the comic book. Gone With the Wind was an excellent fictional adaptation of the Civil War with engaging characters. The “Empire” TV series is an excellent adaptation of the hip hop record industry and the many books written about it. Now, there are people who are low brow enough that they enjoy schlock. They like Honey Boo Boo and those “Housewives of….” tv reality shows. Just because those shows draw an audience doesn’t mean the productions are of good quality. But you know what they say, “To each his own”. They also say “A society gets the kind of culture it deserves.” I’ll watch the first episode, with an openly biased mind. lol

  2. amaykate2015

    April 14, 2016 at 1:39 AM

    Ugh. Watched both of these series and its fairly easy to see the difference. 11.22.63 is based on truth, with intellectual human possibilities behind what could/would happen etc. the Lizzie Borden chronicles seemed to immediately take off into a camp, horror, action disaster. It wasn’t based on realistic human experience it was based on the ax wielding, nearly comical psychopath that Lizzie Borden has been made out to be since the jump rope rhyme first appeared. This show asks what’s scariest? What do people want to see? Instead of asking what would drive someone to kill their parents and what would life be like after? The truth is always much more interesting and can be just as scary.

  3. amaykate2015

    April 14, 2016 at 1:42 AM

    I do agree though that she did not seem oversexed at all. I think the scene in which she kisses the maid is to address the common rumor and likely possibility that she was gay.


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