The Langoliers (miniseries)
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Title card from the first episode
|Written by||Stephen King (novel)
Tom Holland (teleplay)
|Directed by||Tom Holland|
Mark Lindsay Chapman
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 from the four part anthology book Four Past Midnight. 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.
They discover personal and bizarre objects left behind by the passengers no longer on board, including surgical pins, pacemakers and toupes. As they try to learn what happened they introduce themselves; Brian, a pilot whose ex-wife had been killed in a house fire, Nick who remains in the dark about his occupation, Laurel Stevenson, a school teacher on vacation (though later revealed to be answering a personals ad.), Don Gaffney, a tool-and-die worker on the way to see his new granddaughter. Albert Kaussner, a violinist on the way to a musical school in Boston. Bethany Sims, a girl whose estranged family is planning on sending her to drug rehab. Rudy Warwick, a businessman with a ravenous appetite, Craig Toomey, a stock market investor who proudly lost $43 million for his company. Bob Jenkins, a mystery writer, and Dinah Bellman, a blind girl traveling to Boston to undergo optic surgery. Unable to reach anyone on the ground by radio, Brian decides to land at the smaller airport in Bangor, Maine to avoid any ground traffic when they land. This greatly upsets Toomey who insists on making it to his meeting in Boston. Dinah; who is beginning to experience psychic abilities is able to see through Toomey's eyes and recognizes that he is very unstable, seeing the rest of them as monsters. When they land, Toomey slips away from the group as they try to find their way into the abandoned airport terminal. The group recognizes several strange issues with this world; empty rooms are devoid of reverberation. There is no power or combustion as matches don't seem to light, all food and drink are devoid of taste and carbonation, and they seem to experience a strange feeling of jet lag which does not match the normal west-to-east pattern. (Feeling it's later than it really is, rather than earlier). Also, Dinah hears a strange sound that none of the other passengers can hear and demands they refuel the plane, or they will die when that sound reaches them.
Toomey, who had experienced severe mental abuse as a child from his father tries to take Bethany hostage with a gun, but suspecting no reaction due to no combustion, Albert disarms him, getting shot in the chest. But the bullet has no force and bounces off his chest harmlessly. Nick subdues Toomey and ties him up. Upon hearing from Brian that they were due to fly through an aurora borealis over the Mohave Desert, Bob deduces that somehow they've entered a rip in time, causing them to jump as little as fifteen minutes into the past, where all life and energy has left the world and it is waiting to be wound down. Soon the rest of them can hear the noise Dinah described, but as the fuel in this world would not burn, they resign to being stuck in it until Albert realizes that they had brought their own pocket of time with them in the plane. They successfully test matches and carbonated drinks in the plane while Craig tells Dinah about creatures his father told him about called the Langoliers; which follow behind and eat the irresponsible, and lazy, and other dead weights of society. Eventually, he goes completely insane. Seeing Dinah's psychic abilities as a sign of being the "head Langolier" he stabs her and hides. Albert and Gaffney arm themselves and search for a stretcher, but Toomey ambushes them, killing Gaffney and then being critically wounded by Albert. Following Dinah's advise, Nick leaves Toomey alive.
As the plane is readying to depart, strange flying creatures appear, consuming everything in their path. Dinah reaches out to Craig telepathically and convinces him that his meeting moved from Boston and is being held on the tarmac. Leading him out there, Craig reveals that he lost $43 million deliberately in the hopes of escaping the memories of his father's abuse. Confronting a delusion of his father, Craig quickly realizes that the creatures have turned their attention on him. He runs toward the airport, giving the others time to take off and leaving the void of the world below them. Dinah, having seen through Craig's eyes is happy she could see Laurel and subsequently dies from her injuries. They try to fly back through the rift, but at the last minute Bob realizes they were all asleep when they passed through, so passing through awake would kill them. Nick breaks his arm in the veering of the plane, now they are stuck with the dilemma of falling asleep. They decide they can reduce the pressure of the cabin to induce unconsciousness, but one of them would have to stay awake. Nick, it turns out is a hitman, hired to kill a girl in Boston, and has fallen in love with Laurel. He decides to sacrifice himself and convinces Laurel to go to his partner in London and give him a message. After everyone falls asleep, Nick flies into the rift and vanishes, leaving only his wristwatch behind.
The plane lands at LAX, but like before everything is deserted. Though sound reverberates and there is a soft humming noise, and Bob deduces they have actually traveled moments into the future. Standing against a wall out of the line of traffic, they watch as time catches up to them, and they appear in the present, much to the surprise of onlooking children. Realizing their adventure is at an end, the remaining survivors run down the airport terminal, celebrating their return to the world.
- 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 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. 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. 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."
- "Clip from Entertainment Tonight". Retrieved October 24, 2013.
- Tucker, K. TV Movie Review: 'The Langoliers' Entertainment Weekly, May 12, 1995. Retrieved March 24, 2011.