Brian Engel -
Bob Jenkins -
Nick Hopewell -
Mark Lindsay Chapman
Laurel Stephenson -
Dinah Bellman -
Craig Toomey -
Don Gaffney -
Rudy Warwick -
Bethany Simms -
Albert Kaussner -
OTHER STEPHEN KING SHOWS
Salem's Lot '79
Salem's Lot '04
Nightmares and Dreamscapes
OTHER HORROR SHOWS
American Pride Flight 29 is flying overnight from Los Angeles to Boston. Blind Dinah Bellman wakes up to find that her aunt has disappeared. In fact, everyone on board has disappeared except for then people who were asleep through the whole thing. Those that have gone have left everything except their clothes and everything includes watches, wigs, dental work, heart pacemakers and the like. One of the ten is an off-duty pilot. He takes command of the cockpit, but can't raise anyone on the radio. He decides that the best place to land is at Bangor International Airport, but there are no people there either, only a strange distant sound that is both creepy and getting closer.
Based on the Stephen King novella Four Past Midnight, THE LANGOLIERS is a slow burn mystery that on screen becomes even slower. There is only so much that you can do with ten people on a plane for over an hour with no action and no inflight movie. As a result, we're 'treated' to everyone's back story, something that is pure padding and really isn't needed. Once we get to the airport, the mystery deepens, but nothing much more happens.
The cast is a pretty solid one. Solid but uninspiring. David Morse makes for a believable pilot, but Mark Lindsay Chapman's english assassin manages to be neither believably english nor believably an assassin. Patricia Wettig is hardly stretched by her role as a lovelorn teacher and Kate Maberly makes an impression as the blind, but otherwise gifted, young Dinah. The others don't really make any impact at all.
Except for Bronson Pinchot, who is not playing a buffoon for once, but whose businessman on the end of a $47million stocks disaster starts off as intense and goes pretty loopy pretty quickly.
The plane doesn't seem real either. The shots of it in flight are so obviously faked that they are almost like the cartoon representation that you often see in airplane safety briefings, undermining the reality of the thing.
This is, of course, the set up episode and we can only hope that there is a good deal more, and better, action in the second half.Top
Having surmised that they have gone back in time and found that the past consists of an empty shell slowly losing all its energy, the survivors of the plane flight look for a way to get back to the time rift that they passed through. They face the multiple problems of a plane with no fuel, fuel that won't burn and a Craig Toomey who has gone utterly insane under the influence of the memory of his equally insane father and started to stab people. And that's not mentioning the Langoliers, unseen as yet, but getting ever closer.
All the answers are found in the concluding half of the story, but they still take their own good time about coming, much like the Langoliers whose presence remains for the most part just a sound, and a sound that can't be heard inside the terminal at that so it isn't the ever-present threat that it is in the novella. With the main threat unseen and barely heard, the cast of characters take their time ambling around and talking about the problems for far too long. Only when the businessman sets about killing people does the pace pick up a bit and then it accelerates to a conclusion that is trying to get so much in that it ends up being rushed rather than breathless.
Bronson Pinchot's performance goes from exaggerated to so far over the top it's down the other side, setting him aside from the others who continue to give good solid performances. The transition of the blind girl Dinah from a slightly gifted girl to an astral-projecting, future-seeing savant doesn't fit with the rest of the story as well. Neither does the now-contractual appearance of novelist Stephen King as the head of an imaginary board meeting that is so bad that it snaps the audience right out of the plot altogether at a crucial moment.
And so we come to the show's raison d'etre, the appearance of the Langoliers themselves. Looking like a prune with motorised teeth, they neither look real nor scary. They are something out of a very bad video game from the early years. They also act in a strange fashion. Their purpose is to eat the past (literally) until only a void is left and yet they are easily distracted and even take time out to taunt the occupants of the plane instead of just eating it, thus allowing it to get away. After them, anything else seems perfectly plausible.
There is one final act, even after the escape from the Langoliers, and it is an act of sacrifice. One of the good things about the story is that it is not shy about letting people die - and not just the people that might deserve it. There can truly be no guessing who is going to live and who is not and that, at least, is pleasing.Top
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