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
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||2|
|Running time||180 min|
|Original release||May 14 – May 15, 1995|
The Langoliers is a miniseries consisting of two episodes of 1½ hours each (two hours each with 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 on a red eye flight from Los Angeles International Airport bound for Boston Logan International Airport. During the flight, Dinah Bellman, a blind girl, awakens and asks her Aunt Vicky for glass of water. When she gets no response, she becomes frightened and calls out for help. Brian Engle, an airline pilot who is a passenger on the flight, awakens to her call. Other sleeping passengers begin waking up as well. The mystery begins when these ten 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 that the plane is on autopilot.
They discover personal and bizarre objects left behind by the passengers who are no longer on board, including surgical pins, pacemakers and toupees. As they try to learn what happened they introduce themselves: Laurel Stevenson, a schoolteacher on vacation (though later revealed to be meeting a man from a personal ad); Don Gaffney, a tool and die worker on his way to meet his new granddaughter; Albert Kaussner, a violinist on his way to a music school in Boston; Bethany Sims, a girl whose estranged family is planning on sending her to a drug rehab; Bob Jenkins, a mystery-novel author; Dinah Bellman, a blind girl on her way to Boston to undergo optic surgery; and Rudy Warwick, a perpetually sleepy businessman with a ravenous appetite. Another businessman remains silent but is later revealed to be Craig Toomey, a mentally unstable man who has recently and proudly caused his company a $43 million loss. Dinah telepathically sees through his eyes, and recognizes him as a threat. Unable to reach anyone on the ground by radio, Brian decides to land at a smaller airport in Bangor, Maine to avoid any possible ground traffic when they touch down. This greatly upsets Toomey, who violently insists on making it to his meeting in Boston. When they land in Bangor, Toomey slips away from the group as they try to find their way into the abandoned airport terminal. In a flashback, it is revealed that Toomey suffered severe psychological abuse at the hands of his father; when he failed to make perfect grades in school as a child, his father terrorized him with threats of what the "Langoliers," creatures who hunt down and devour the lazy and irresponsible, would do to him.
The group soon recognizes several strange issues: Sound does not echo; there is no electricity or any kind of combustion, as matches will not ignite; all food and drink are devoid of taste and carbonation; and time seems to be accelerating, as the sun sets and then rises again within mere hours of landing. Also, Dinah hears a strange sound that none of the other passengers can hear. She insists something is coming for them, and that they must take off again or they will all die. Toomey, driven insane by his fear of the Langoliers' wrath should he miss his meeting in Boston, takes Bethany hostage with a gun. Deducing that the gunpowder in the bullets' shells have no force, Albert subdues him just as Toomey fires, the bullet harmlessly bouncing off Albert's chest. Toomey is then tied up. Bob soon deduces that since they flew into an unusual aurora borealis over the Mojave Desert, they have entered a time rip, sending them several minutes into the past. They also deduce that jet fuel will be just as useless as the café's matches, and therefore escape is hopeless. But then Albert deduces that they have possibly brought their own "pocket of the present" with them inside the plane, a theory proven correct when they bring food and matches onto the plane, finding their properties have returned to normal. Surmising this will also apply to the jet fuel, the group, with difficulty, refuels the plane with the intention of flying back through the time rip. Meanwhile, as the rest of the group calls for Toomey, Dinah discovers him hiding behind a counter, and pleads with him to come out. He escapes his bonds and stabs Dinah in the chest, leaving her critically wounded. As Gaffney and Albert search for a stretcher, Toomey also stabs and kills Gaffney, and Albert subdues him again, leaving him unconscious on the floor.
As the plane is made ready for departure, strange flying creatures suddenly appear, consuming everything in their path. Dinah reaches out to Toomey telepathically and convinces him that his meeting has moved from Boston, and is being held on the tarmac. Leading him outside, Craig happily reveals to his boss (Stephen King in a cameo appearance) that he lost $43 million deliberately in the hopes of somehow escaping the memories of his father's abuse. Confronting an illusion of his father, Craig quickly realizes that the creatures have turned their attention on him. He attempts to flee in a panic, but is devoured. The plane narrowly escapes, and leaves 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. Brian reveals that he was returning to Boston because his ex-wife died in a fire, and Nick reluctantly reveals that he is a government assassin tasked with the elimination of the girlfriend of a prominent IRA supporter in Boston.
They locate the time rip and prepare to fly through it, but at the last minute Bob realizes they were all asleep when they first passed through it, so passing through in a conscious state would resign them to the same fate as their former co-passengers. Nick warns Brian of this, who steers the plane away from the rip at the very last second. They decide they can reduce the pressure of the cabin to induce unconsciousness, but one of them would have to stay awake to restore the pressure to normal. Nick decides to sacrifice himself and convinces Laurel, with whom he has fallen in love, to go to his estranged father in London and inform him that he had decided to quit his career as a hit man. After everyone falls asleep, Nick flies into the rift and vanishes, leaving only his wristwatch behind.
The plane lands at LAX but, to the group's horror, the airport is completely deserted just as they had experienced at the Bangor airport. However, sound here seems to reverberate, and there is a soft, distant, and increasing humming noise, and Bob deduces that they have overcorrected slightly, and have actually traveled moments into the future this time. 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 awe of onlooking children, the only ones to notice the arrival of "the new people." The remaining survivors happily run through 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 domineering 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 five 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.