Review of The Tommyknockers mini-series

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Neil W

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May 27, 2008
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Something is buried in the woods behind Bobbi's house. And, once it is partly uncovered, it starts exerting an influence on the inhabitants of the small Maine town - strange things happen, strange talents manifest themselves, people get smarter, and the outside world gets cut off. It falls to Bobbi's friend Gard to get some idea of what's happening and find a way to put a stop to it.

With the benefit of hindsight, The Tommyknockers is something of an early run at an idea developed more fully in Under The Dome. As an avid King reader, I found my first pass at this book very difficult: I got a lot more out of it at the second attempt. And, like much of King's work, it defies attempts to adapt it effectively. But the elements which reduce the effectiveness of the adaptation are strange (and, I suspect, different for different people). For me, there were two things which really screwed things up - one was the fact that, in the book,
what was buried in the woods was a saucer, and it was the very edge of this which got uncovered: in the miniseries what got dug up was a series of interconnected boxes.
And the other thing was
the physical deterioration of the townsfolk - one appreciates how difficult this would be to do on screen, but Bobbi was nearly as attractive at the end as she was at the start, and she should have been a gaunt mess.

The ensemble cast isn't bad, and does a reasonable job of recreating most of King's characters. The main problem is that there is a distinct 2nd class/TV feel to what should have been a 1st class/movie project.
 
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lovely1

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May 16, 2010
337
437
Trinidad and Tobago
The movie wasn't bad but it wasn't good either, I thought it was super long. I wished the acting was more believable and the special effects. I read the book, it was better than the movie but not the greatest Stephen King novel I've read either.
 
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Lily Sawyer

B-ReadAndWed
Jun 27, 2009
6,625
15,016
South Carolina
I think this is a hard one to translate to screen. There's a lot of philosophizing that is important to the story but boring to a viewer when it's put into script form.

I'll still defend the story, though. It's creative, the characters are interesting, and the ending is great.
 
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opundo

Active Member
Sep 25, 2011
38
87
Derry, Maine
Something is buried in the woods behind Bobbi's house. And, once it is partly uncovered, it starts exerting an influence on the inhabitants of the small Maine town - strange things happen, strange talents manifest themselves, people get smarter, and the outside world gets cut off. It falls to Bobbi's friend Gard to get some idea of what's happening and find a way to put a stop to it.

With the benefit of hindsight, The Tommyknockers is something of an early run at an idea developed more fully in Under The Dome. As an avid King reader, I found my first pass at this book very difficult: I got a lot more out of it at the second attempt. And, like much of King's work, it defies attempts to adapt it effectively. But the elements which reduce the effectiveness of the adaptation are strange (and, I suspect, different for different people). For me, there were two things which really screwed things up - one was the fact that, in the book,
what was buried in the woods was a saucer, and it was the very edge of this which got uncovered: in the miniseries what got dug up was a series of interconnected boxes.
And the other thing was
the physical deterioration of the townsfolk - one appreciates how difficult this would be to do on screen, but Bobbi was nearly as attractive at the end as she was at the start, and she should have been a gaunt mess.

The ensemble cast isn't bad, and does a reasonable job of recreating most of King's characters. The main problem is that there is a distinct 2nd class/TV feel to what should have been a 1st class/movie project.
I have nothing against Jimmy Smits, but I thought he was miscast as Jim Gardner.
 
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Rockym

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Feb 11, 2012
77
236
Loved the book and thought the movie wasn't bad, but it was a terrible adaptation.

Changing the saucer and the whole dig kinda annoyed me as well. The whole town was never there at the same time digging, it was always just Bobbi and Gard. And then when Bobbi got hurt, it was just Gard and someone else. I also didn't like how they completely changed all the characters, in the book, Gard is drunk most of the time and never leaves Bobbi's house. In the movie, they changed him to more of a live-in boyfriend playing the hero trying to stop what was going on. And he was hardly drunk at all. And Bobbi and Peter getting "cured" at the end, was kind of disappointing as well. Bobbi didn't even get shot and get put in the shed. The shed looked kinda cheap as well. They were supposed to be suspended in green liquid, not plastic wrap.

Too many changes for my tastes, when I watch a movie adaptation of a novel, I just want to see it come to life. I don't care that I know what happens, I still enjoy it. This could have been a much better adaptation.
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
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I have nothing against Jimmy Smits, but I thought he was miscast as Jim Gardner.

I'm not even sure now that I even watched this show, but I do remember thinking this exact thing when it came out.
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
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I had a very clear picture in my head of Gard from my reading, and I just wasn't down with Jimmy Smits in that role.

This is what some folk around here may recognize as Molly Ringwald Syndrome.

; )
 

Rrty

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2007
1,394
4,588
The book is very good indeed. I think, as far as the TV adaptation is concerned, economics pretty much drove the project. In a sense, I think all of King's miniseries projects back in that time were sterile, uninteresting affairs, weren't they? There may have been value to them at the time because they were event television, but once you got through one of them, I don't think they ever satisfied, did they?

Today, though, is different. I didn't watch Under the Dome, but even without watching it, I'm sure the production values were a lot better on that one than they were on, say, The Stand. What King really needs is an HBO or an AMC to take one of his projects.
 

Ceefor

Proud Member Of The SKMB, 21.05.13 - 30.06.20
May 21, 2013
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I remember reading the book waaaaaay before I realized that a movie adaptation had been made, and I'd built up an image of what Gard looked like: Jimmy Smits wasn't it. No disrespect to the dude, but I was rather disappointed in the choice of the actor in question, even though all I'd ever seen him in was LA Law as Victor Sifuentes (and he was reasonably good in that), but nothing else. I thought he was miscast in this role.

I was a bit startled when a lot of what I'd seen in the movie didn't match up with the book, and I'm like: "why aren't the characters 'becoming', showing them turn into the Tommyknockers?" It took me a while to realize that it might've had something to do with the budget, but then I realized that it wasn't easy to translate Stephen King's written works into something visual.

I did like the movie, don't get me wrong, although it was okay, I felt it could've been better. The book, however, (like IT, Needful Things, and The Shining), has this amazing ability to draw me in and keep me there. The strength of Stephen's writing. The other three books that I mentioned also have this ability, especially IT.
 

Doc Creed

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Nov 18, 2015
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I remember reading the book waaaaaay before I realized that a movie adaptation had been made, and I'd built up an image of what Gard looked like: Jimmy Smits wasn't it. No disrespect to the dude, but I was rather disappointed in the choice of the actor in question, even though all I'd ever seen him in was LA Law as Victor Sifuentes (and he was reasonably good in that), but nothing else. I thought he was miscast in this role.

I was a bit startled when a lot of what I'd seen in the movie didn't match up with the book, and I'm like: "why aren't the characters 'becoming', showing them turn into the Tommyknockers?" It took me a while to realize that it might've had something to do with the budget, but then I realized that it wasn't easy to translate Stephen King's written works into something visual.

I did like the movie, don't get me wrong, although it was okay, I felt it could've been better. The book, however, (like IT, Needful Things, and The Shining), has this amazing ability to draw me in and keep me there. The strength of Stephen's writing. The other three books that I mentioned also have this ability, especially IT.

I always pictured Gard as a Peter Breck and Guy Williams combination. Slightly worn down by life but not as weathered as Roland. Plus, you have to use your imagination, too, because Gard was balding a bit, I think. Wasn't he in his late thirties? Anyway here are a few pics:
327c9a8680d46bc9f9dac5d7366ee4cb.jpg GUY-WILLIAMS--2-.jpg
 

Ceefor

Proud Member Of The SKMB, 21.05.13 - 30.06.20
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I always pictured Gard as a Peter Breck and Guy Williams combination. Slightly worn down by life but not as weathered as Roland. Plus, you have to use your imagination, too, because Gard was balding a bit, I think. Wasn't he in his late thirties? Anyway here are a few pics:
View attachment 17757 View attachment 17758

The first picture is really nice. :)
 

Doc Creed

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I think Bobbi would've looked something like this (from the moment Gard finds the exhausted Bobbi on the porch of her farmhouse)...

silkwood-cher-235x300.jpg
Cher in Silkwood. I could almost draw Bobbi and Gard, that's how clear an image I see in my mind.
 
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Doc Creed

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The first picture is really nice. :)
It is very difficult to amalgamate the manifold images a reader goes through before defining a solid visual. The two former pics are a shade too handsome, but in my case these are what my mind conjured. So, in this line of thinking I'd balance out Gard with one final picture. Thinking of the wise poet, the aged sojourner.

strathairn__140204235714.png
 

Ceefor

Proud Member Of The SKMB, 21.05.13 - 30.06.20
May 21, 2013
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It is very difficult to amalgamate the manifold images a reader goes through before defining a solid visual. The two former pics are a shade too handsome, but in my case these are what my mind conjured. So, in this line of thinking I'd balance out Gard with one final picture. Thinking of the wise poet, the aged sojourner.

View attachment 17760

Oh, my....! :)