The Langoliers (TV miniseries)

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The Langoliers
The Langoliers (TV miniseries).jpg
Title card from the first episode
Format Science fantasy/adventure
Written by Stephen King (novel)
Tom Holland (teleplay)
Directed by Tom Holland
Starring Patricia Wettig
Dean Stockwell
David Morse
Mark Lindsay Chapman
Frankie Faison
Baxter Harris
Kimber Riddle
Christopher Collet
Kate Maberly
and Bronson Pinchot as Craig Toomey
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes 2
Running time 180 min
Original run May 14, 1995 – May 15, 1995

The Langoliers is a miniseries consisting of 2 episodes of 2 hours each (4 hours including commercials). It was directed and written by Tom Holland and based on the novella by Stephen King. The series was produced by Mitchell Galin and David R. Kappes. The miniseries originally aired May 14–15, 1995 on the ABC network.


A Lockheed L-1011 is flying out of Los Angeles International Airport at night bound for Boston Logan International Airport. Sometime later in the flight, Dinah Bellman, a blind girl, awakens and asks her Aunt Vicky for water. When she gets no response, she calls for help. Brian Engle, an airline pilot who is a passenger on this flight, awakens to Dinah's call for help. Other sleeping passengers then begin to wake up. The mystery begins when these nine people discover they are the only ones left on the plane; not even the pilots are aboard. Brian and Nick Hopewell, a mysterious British man, discover the plane is on autopilot.

Brian attempts to radio for help, but receives no response whatsoever. The other passengers discover that strange objects have been left behind in the passenger seats, such as watches, surgical pins, and pacemakers. They subsequently introduce themselves: Bob Jenkins, a mystery novel writer; Laurel Stevenson, a schoolteacher on vacation (later revealed to really be meeting a man from a personals ad); Don Gaffney, a tool-and-die worker for Hughes Aircraft going to meet his new grand daughter; Albert Kaussner, a violinist on his way to music school in Boston; Bethany Simms, who is visiting her aunt who plans to enroll her in drug rehab; Dinah Bellman, on her way to Boston for optical surgery; a man later revealed as Rudy Warwick, a perpetually hungry businessman, remains asleep; and a suspicious businessman who remains silent. He is later revealed to be Craig Toomey, a mentally unstable man (partly due to years of abuse from his father and a troubled childhood and adolescence) who has knowingly and proudly caused a $43 million loss for his company. Dinah, who possesses psychic powers, sees through Toomey's eyes and recognizes him as a threat.

Brian takes over the plane and announces that, for safety, the flight will be diverted from Boston to Bangor, Maine. Toomey aggressively protests and announces that it is crucial that he attends his business trip in Boston. In a flashback, it is revealed that Toomey was abused as a child by his overbearing and sadistic father; when Craig failed to make straight A's, his father warned him about the "Langoliers"; creatures that chased down the lazy and devoured them. He is therefore desperate to make his meeting in Boston in order to announce his willful loss of finances to his boss and be freed from his father's wrath.

The plane lands at Bangor International Airport and the passengers find that it is devoid of life and electricity. Dinah confesses that she hears a "horrible cereal noise" sound in the distance that is coming closer and demands that they must leave before it reaches them or they will die; the sound eventually becomes loud enough that all the survivors hear it.[1] Toomey sneaks away from the group while the rest find a restaurant and decide to stop for food. They then find that food and drinks have no flavor, matches do not light, and sound does not reverberate. Toomey returns with a security guard's gun and takes Bethany hostage while demanding a flight to Boston; in an attempt to rescue her, Albert is shot, but the revolver has no force and the round harmlessly bounces off his chest.

Toomey is captured and Bob deduces that, as they flew through an unusual aurora borealis during the flight, they have flown through a rip in the space-time continuum, traveling about 15 minutes into the past, where anything with energy or life has moved on without them; therefore, jet fuel would be useless. However, using Bob's logic, Albert correctly deduces that, since the plane contains electricity and life, that it contains its own pocket of the present time; therefore, anything loaded into the plane would subsequently regain its energy, even jet fuel. During this period, Nick and Laurel begin to fall in love.

Toomey escapes from his trap; now completely insane, he stabs Dinah in the chest and kills Gaffney, fearing that they are disguised Langoliers. Albert subdues Toomey and Nick plans to kill him in revenge before Dinah insists that he stay alive, to which Nick reluctantly obliges. The remaining survivors return to the plane to refuel it. Toomey regains consciousness, and Dinah communicates with him telepathically to convince him to come to the tarmac, where his Boston bosses have arrived to meet with him. He hallucinates the board of directors are there, along with his boss (Stephen King in a cameo appearance), where he gleefully confesses to purposely losing millions. He is overjoyed until his boss transforms into his father, who chastises him and calls upon the Langoliers using a hand signal.

The plane completes its refueling just as Toomey regains awareness and sees, along with the other passengers, the Langoliers approaching from the forest. He screams loudly and runs, drawing them away from the plane and distracting them long enough for the plane to take off, though Toomey is devoured in the process.

Nick and Brian discuss their reasons for traveling to Boston: Nick was a government hit man on a mission in Boston to murder the girlfriend of a prominent Irish Republican Army (IRA) supporter; Brian was returning to Boston after his ex-wife died in a fire. He reveals that their divorce was an ugly one and that he presumably struck her in an argument gone awry, which he always wanted to apologize for. Dinah soon afterwards dies of her injuries after telling Laurel that she had no regrets; she was able to use Toomey's eyes to see one last time.

The plane flies toward the time rip once again, only for Bob to have Brian turn the plane away at the last second after realizing that those on board who were awake disappeared when first entering the rip. Brian finds that the only way to safely enter the rip is to reduce the cabin pressure to make all the passengers lose consciousness while one person sacrifices themselves to turn the pressure up just before entering the rip. Nick volunteers, much to Laurel's dismay.

Nick takes Laurel aside and asks her a favor: to travel to England and tell Nick's estranged father that he was finished with his career as a hit man and that he wanted to atone for what he had done by sacrificing himself to save the lives of the others. He shares a passionate kiss with Laurel before proceeding with the plan; Brian reduces the cabin pressure, all the passengers lose consciousness, while Nick breathes through an emergency oxygen mask and turns the pressure up before entering the rip, after which he vanishes.

The passengers awake and Brian lands the plane at LAX. At first, it appears to be dead and lifeless, just like Bangor, but not exactly. They hear a noise; not like the eerie, crunching noise from Bangor, but a gentle, soothing hum. They also find that air has scent, food has flavor, and sound reverberates. Bob deduces that they are several minutes into the future and that the present is moments away from catching up to them. Bob has everyone line up against a wall to avoid the impending flow of traffic. A vibrant flash of colors shines while the present timeline catches up to them and many people appear as the timeline returns to its normal state. Overjoyed, the group runs outside together and jumps for joy in a freeze frame shot.


  • Patricia Wettig – as Laurel Stevenson, a school teacher who impulsively answered a personal ad to meet a man in Boston; she cares for the blind Dinah and is the most devastated with her loss. She begins to romance Nick and plans to date him when they return to their own time.
  • Dean Stockwell – as Bob Jenkins, a mystery writer with a strong ability for deduction. He manages to piece together the situation and provides many outrageous theories that come true for the most part.
  • David Morse – as Captain Brian Engle, an airline pilot on his way to Boston after hearing his ex-wife had died in a fire. He is qualified to fly the plane and is able to take off and land it safely.
  • Mark Lindsay Chapman – as Nick Hopewell, a British secret agent and hitman going to Boston for a final mission. He is tough, quick yet compassionate for the other passengers with the exception of Toomey.
  • Frankie Faison – as Don Gaffney, a military aircraft tool-and-die worker on his way to Boston to meet his first granddaughter. He is killed by Toomey when he and Albert go to find a stretcher to assist Dinah after she had also been stabbed by Toomey.
  • Baxter Harris – as Rudy Warwick, a businessman whose insatiable appetite and sleepiness helps Bob deduce situations on more than one occasion.
  • Kimber Riddle – as Bethany Simms, a rebellious teenager on her way to Boston to stay with her aunt, though she is convinced she'll be spending the entire time in drug rehab.
  • Christopher Collet – as Albert "Ace" Kaussner, a violinist on his way to attend a music school in Boston. He becomes the "Watson" to Bob Jenkins, helping him to deduce things and ultimately being a big help in saving them. He forms a romantic relationship with Bethany after saving her life and taking a bullet for her.
  • Kate Maberly – as Dinah Catherine Bellman, a blind girl on her way to Boston to have a surgery to help restore her eyesight. She has strange psychic powers and is able to see and communicate with Toomey telepathically. She is strong willed and seems to know a lot more of what's going on than anyone else. She is stabbed trying to reach out to Toomey and later succumbs to her injuries.
  • Bronson Pinchot – as Craig Toomey, a broker working for a big dollar company who is psychologically unsound due to the abuse of his father he'd faced as a child. Dinah uses him as a distraction needed for the Langoliers to give them enough time to escape.
  • Stephen King (cameo) – Tom Holby (Craig Toomey's boss)


The miniseries was filmed almost entirely in and around the Bangor International Airport in Bangor, Maine (author King's hometown) during the summer of 1994.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The Langoliers received mixed reviews upon its release. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 50% of critics gave the miniseries a positive review (out of 10 reviews) with an average rating of 5/10.[3] Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly gave it a "B" rating, calling it an episode of The Twilight Zone stretched out to four hours, [but] nonetheless does have its moments.[4] TV Guide gave it one out of four stars, calling it tedious and boring, criticizing its "dull" script, "cardboard characters," "ludicrous special effects," and its "dishwatery cast, [with the sole exception of] Pinchot, who rolls his eyes like an alien thespian from the Planet Ham."[5]


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