The Langoliers (miniseries)

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The Langoliers
Title card from the first episode
Based on"The Langoliers"
by Stephen King
Written byTom Holland (teleplay)
Directed byTom Holland
Music byVladimir Horunzhy
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes2
Running time180 minutes
Production companyLaurel Entertainment
Original networkABC
Original releaseMay 14 (1995-05-14) –
May 15, 1995 (1995-05-15)

The Langoliers is a horror miniseries consisting of two parts of 1½ hours each. 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, for Laurel Entertainment, Inc. The miniseries originally aired May 14–15, 1995 on the ABC network.


During a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Boston, a passenger plane flies through a strange light that causes most of the passengers and crew to disappear, leaving behind only their personal belongings. The remaining passengers, who were asleep at the time, include pilot Brian Engle, deadheading on the flight, along with a mysterious Englishman named Nick, schoolteacher Laurel Stevenson, tool and die worker Don Gaffney, violinist Albert Kaussner, troubled teen Bethany Sims, mystery author Bob Jenkins, blind girl Dinah Bellman, sleepy businessman Rudy Warwick, and mentally ill executive Craig Toomy.

After failing to establish communication with either air traffic control or other flights, Brian is able to land at Bangor International Airport, where the group finds the airport deserted and without power. They soon discover that everything around them is dull and lifeless, with matches failing to light, sounds lacking echo, and food having no taste. Dinah reports hearing a strange sound in the distance, while Bob postulates they may have passed through an aurora borealis and entered a time rip, sending them a few minutes into the past. Dinah, who has some telepathic ability, warns the others about Craig, who becomes increasingly unstable and violent after finding a gun in an airport locker. Nick and Albert subdue him after discovering that the strange environment has rendered the gun's bullets harmless.

Albert discovers that the "present time" is still on the plane, and objects brought from the airport regain normal behavior after a short time once on-board. As Brian prepares to refuel and take off in the hope of returning to normal time, others attempt to find Craig, who has escaped; upon discovery, he stabs Dinah and Don, killing the latter. As the group board the now nearly refuelled plane, they encounter strange creatures that consume everything, including time. Craig had previously referred to the creatures as Langoliers, which Bob deduces feed on time which has passed. Dinah psychically convinces Craig that his meeting has moved from Boston to here, which affords them valuable extra time to prepare the plane for take-off upon the arrival of the Langoliers, who chase Craig into the terminal building before devouring him.

As the plane takes off, they witness the Langoliers consuming the airport behind them. Dinah dies while recalling her connection with Craig, and as the plane approaches a time rip, Bob realizes that they survived their first trip through the rift while asleep and could disappear if they pass through it awake. Nick, now revealing that he was a government assassin on a mission, volunteers to stay awake while the others are knocked unconscious, to restore pressure just before entering the rip. After asking Laurel to travel to London to explain this to his estranged father, Nick disappears as the plane enters the rift, while Brian awakens shortly after to land the plane in Los Angeles.

Upon landing, the passengers realize that they may be a few minutes ahead of the present time, noting the return of sound and smell. With the present time stream catching up to them, they watch as other people blur into view before rejoining the present time stream.


  • Patricia Wettig as Laurel Stevenson, a school teacher who uncharacteristically answered a personal ad to meet a man in Boston.
  • 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 which come true for the most part, sometimes with his sidekick Albert's help.
  • 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 Toomy.
  • Frankie Faison as Don Gaffney, a military aircraft tool-and-die worker on his way to Boston to meet his first granddaughter.
  • 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 Worcester, Massachusetts, 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.
  • 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 Toomy telepathically. She is strong-willed and seems to know a lot more of what's going on than anyone else.
  • Bronson Pinchot as Craig Toomy, a broker working for an unnamed large company, who is psychologically unsound due to abuse by his domineering father that he faced as a child.
  • John Griesemer as Roger Toomy, Craig's cruel, bad-tempered father. Although he is supposedly deceased during the events of the miniseries, he continues to torment Craig in hallucinations.
  • Stephen King in a cameo as Tom Holby, Craig Toomy's boss, to whom Toomy reveals, in his final hallucination, that he deliberately lost $43,000,000 by investing it in stocks that he knew were worthless.



For scenes on the plane, the production team acquired a retired Lockheed L-1011 TriStar aircraft from Japan which was cut up into several pieces and transported to set, where it was re-assembled to appear intact. At the time, there was no other similar mock-up anywhere else in the country, which allowed the possibility of being rented for other purposes post-production. The cockpit was removed and attached to a hydraulic apparatus which could be maneuvered in a manner to simulate wind turbulence.[1]


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] Producer David Kappes noted that the crew considered using an airport in Pittsburgh and a newly opened one in Denver, both of which were closed and therefore suitable for filming, but decided against them due to a desire to bring reality to the story and film in the airport where the series takes place. The film crew used a cold war-era bomber hangar, although final scenes were shot in a functional waiting area within the airport.[3]

Real passengers were able to observe rehearsals although numerous close encounters between actors and tourists were reported. Due to jet noise from aircraft, a considerable budget was provided to re-record voices and over-loop in post-production.[3]

Post production[edit]

Filming wrapped in September 1994, around two months after production began. The cost to produce the miniseries according to Charles Miller, production manager, was estimated in the region of $3 million to $5 million, although costs were kept lower due to the compact location of the airport and set. The cast and crew stayed in the Bangor Airport Marriot Hotel, filling 40 rooms.[3] The numbers of cast and crew exceeded 130, as well as roughly 175 extras who all lived locally.[1]


On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 50% of 22 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.1/10. The website's consensus reads: "While not without its fair share of thrills, The Langoliers suffers from a meandering pace and dubious characterizations."[4] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 59 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.[5]

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.[6] 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".[7] Variety found the first three hours of the series work well, but that it falls apart when the monster is revealed.[8] The book Stephen King Films FAQ asserted that Bronson Pinchot "chews more scenery than all of the Langoliers put together".[9]

The series did very well for ABC, finishing among the top 5 in the weekly ratings.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Production of The Langoliers". Portland Press Herald. September 4, 1994. p. 53.
  2. ^ "Clip from Entertainment Tonight". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 20, 2021. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "The Making of a Miniseries". Portland Press Herald. September 4, 1994. p. 49.
  4. ^ "Stephen King's 'The Langoliers' (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  5. ^ "The Langoliers". Metacritic.
  6. ^ Tucker, K. TV Movie Review: 'The Langoliers'[dead link] Entertainment Weekly, May 12, 1995. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  7. ^ "The Langoliers".
  8. ^ Scott, Tony (May 12, 1995). "Stephen King's the Langoliers".
  9. ^ Doviak, Scott Von (February 2014). Stephen King Films FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the King of Horror on Film. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9781480386181.
  10. ^ Margulies, Lee (May 17, 1995). "TV Ratings : ABC's 'Langoliers' Gobbles Up Sunday but Not NBC". Los Angeles Times.

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