The Tommyknockers – tape 1779

Staying with the scary theme for another day, with Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers. The announcer calls it supernatural, but my recollection of the book was that it was science fiction. I could be wrong though.

I’ll be annoyed if this is only the first few episodes, though, as this appears to be the only tape I have in the collection with this programme on it.

After what looks like a dream sequence opening, with Jimmy Smits running through the woods, and a woman with green eyes, it settles into familiar Stephen King territory – a small town where nothing interesting happens. EG Marshall is a doting grandfather, telling his gradson about the place in the woods where real magic happens.

EG Marshall

The local Sheriff (Joanna Cassidy) has an office filled with dolls from all over the world. Creepy dolls which scare small children, and which she talks to.

Doll collection

Allyce Beasley (Agnes DiPesto from Moonlighting) is a deputy. Look, she’s even eating a doughnut.

Allyce Beasley

She’s married to Cliff DeYoung (Brad Majors from the Rocky Horror sequel Shock Treatment). But he’s having an affair with the new postmistress, played by Traci Lords.

Traci Lords

Marg Helgenberger is a writer (still using a typewriter!) and she takes her dog for a walk, when she finds a strange metal object buried in the ground, which zaps her dog with a green spark.

We meet Jimmy Smits for real, as he attends an AA meeting, because he’s a recovering alcoholic.

Jimmy Smits

The dog who was zapped starts going a bit green-eyed during a storm.

Green Eyed Dog

It looks like they had to build a fake dog head to get that glowing effect. Surely a digital effect would have been possible (and cheap)? This was made in 1993.

Marg notices the change in the eye – it looks like her dog’s cataracts have receded.

Smits is a poet, invited to read some of his poetry at an event for new poetry, but he reads an old poem. His host is very rude to him, and suggests it’s because he hasn’t written anything new recently. We also learn he has a metal plate in his head.

He starts to drink at the reception for the event, behaves boorishly, and wakes up with no recollection of what he might have done, then he hitches a ride home. When he arrives back, Helgenberger (they are a couple) excitedly tells him of her discovery. She’s now dug up more of the buried object, and it’s all green and glowy. Green and glowy seems to be the dominant theme of this programme.

Green and Glowy

Pretty soon, everyone in the town is exhibiting strange abilities. Helgenberger fixes her plumbing. The postmostress invents a magic machine that sorts the mail. Allyce Beasley can talk to her television, and it advises her to kill her unfaithful husband, and Helgenberger can read minds.

Rather more problematically, the young boy who’s learning magic tricks invents a trick that makes his brother disappear, but he doesn’t know how to get him back.

Beasley rewires her TV so that it electrocutes unfaithful hubby Cliff DeYoung (in a green and glowy way, of course).

Live wire

In part 2, the townspeople are mostly possessed by whatever is living in the buried ship. The Sheriff from the nearby town is killed by a killer vending machine.


Smits and Helgenberger find their way onto the Tommyknockers’ ship, find the missing boy being used to power it, and also come face to face with one of them.

The Tommyknocker

And Smits nobly sacrifices himself by piloting the ship away from the town and blowing it up. Greenly and Glowily,

Recording stops after this.


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  1. I’ve read the book this was based on, and I never pictured Nancy Voss as Traci Lords. Then again, Wendy Torrance wasn”t described as looking like Shelley Duvall.

  2. I loved the book as a teenager, though seemingly it’s not one of King’s most popular (I think it was the last one he wrote in a coke and booze fuelled haze), but this miniseries was just cheap and tacky. Truly the misbegotten era of Stephen King’s Golden Years and Sleepwalkers.

    Considering it’s an uncredited variation on Quatermass and the Pit, I expected more.

    1. I remember quite enjoying the book, but I agree the miniseries was pretty bad. King has such a variation of quality in the films based on his work. I wonder if there’s any other writer with the kind of spread that King has.

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