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  • Jack McDevitt

Blog #40

Recently I posted a statement that Midnight in Paris was the best time-travel film I’d ever seen. A week or so ago I saw The Final Countdown for a second time. But it had been forty years since we’d seen it originally. And it occurred to me it ranked also at the top of any best-of list. So I corrected myself.

Last night I stumbled across my copy of JFK: Second Chance, an indie film I’d first seen ten or twelve years ago that is directed by Bob Dyke. And I realized that making public statements about the ranking of books, movies, comedians, whatever, should stay away from claiming any single one as the superlative.

Because it’s an independent film it never had a theatrical release and, as far as I know, never showed up on TV.

The plotline: A time traveler who had become an admirer of Jacqueline Kennedy and who felt the tragedy she’d experienced arrives in Dallas in November, 1963, determined to change history. He talks to Kennedy. (Getting access to a president is no big deal when you’re a time traveler.) He warns him of the upcoming assassination, and shows him evidence to support his claim. He also informs him of the events that will follow his death. Consequently the assassination doesn’t happen.

Shortly afterward, Lyndon Johnson, in Air Force One, tries to persuade him to go into Vietnam. “We need to do it,” he says, “or we’ll hand the 1964 election to the GOP.”

Kennedy declines. “No,” he says. “I saw almost 60,000 of our troops dead. It’s not going to happen, Lyndon.”

There are other intriguing moments. The time traveler warns Kennedy that, if he is not careful, there will be a second assassination. “A second assassination? How is that possible?”

“A character assassination, Mr. President. Stop cheating on Jackie. It will go public.”

JFK completes two terms and Bobby Kennedy follows him into the White House. Everything has changed. JFK and Jackie retire to a happy life on Cape Cod. Bill Clinton becomes a TV performer.

After the turn of the century, a CNN reporter who sounds like Wolf Blitzer breaks into a show to inform us that JFK died that evening, peacefully in his sleep. The family has announced that he will be interred, as he wished, at Moonbase Kennedy.

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