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Stephen King’s the Shining

Stephen King's The Shining (Sun. (27), Mon. (28) and Thurs. (1); 9-11 p.m.; ABC) Filmed in Estes Park, Colo., and in and around Denver by Lakeside Prods. in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producer, Stephen King; producer, Mark Carliner; supervising producer, Elliot Friedgen; associate producer, Laura Gibson; director, Mick Garris; writer, Stephen King (from his novel); director of photography, Shelly Johnson; production designer, Craig Stearns; visual effects supervisor, Boyd Shermis; special effects, Lou Carlucci; music, Nicholas Pike; editor, Patrick McMahon; art director, Randy Moore; set decorator, Ellen Totleben; costume designer, Warden Neil. Cast: Rebecca De Mornay, Steven Weber, Courtland Mead, Melvin Van Peebles, Wil Horneff, Elliot Gould, John Durbin, Stanley Anderson, Pat Hingle. Granted, "Stephen King's The Shining" doesn't have a maniacal Jack Nicholson chopping down the door and shouting, "Heeeeeeere's Johnny!," but this six-hour vidpic is a far more unsettling and compelling piece of filmmaking than the megahyped original. At the very least, it's the strongest miniseries of this year's two sweeps periods. Stephen King has made no secret of his displeasure with director Stanley Kubrick's 1980 big-screen version of his horrific bestseller "The Shining." Too bloody. Too over-the-top. Too far afield from his vision of a snowbound domestic nightmare. But when you hold the keys to sweeps miniseries nirvana, you carry an awful lot of clout. With "The Stand," "It," "The Tommyknockers" and "The Langoliers," King has been ABC's big-event savior. So the network had to listen when he told them he wanted to remake "The Shining" and this time do it right. Just to make sure, he would adapt the teleplay himself --- and executive produce. And make no mistake, this is a miniseries, not a glorified two-night movie. At six hours, its slowness is carefully calculated; the edge-of-your-seat creepiness unfolds with a languid believability that will rope in viewers early andhold them. This mini earns its massive length, using every minute to paint a picture of surprising emotional complexity and depth. Frightening without being especially gory until the endgame involving croquet mallets, the three-nighter (ABC has brazenly skedded the conclusion opposite NBC's Thursday-night lineup) stars Rebecca De Mornay and Steven Weber of "Wings" as Wendy and Jack Torrance, a couple troubled by his longtime battle with the bottle. You know the story. Jack, a struggling writer and alcoholic, takes a job as the winter caretaker at the remote Colorado resort hotel the Overlook. He hopes the isolation will help him finally pen that stage play. Wendy is more concerned with keeping the family together and quelling Jack's violent outbursts --- including one in which he broke the arm of 7-year-old son Danny (Courtland Mead). It sounds like it will be paradise. But with the roads impassable due to snow, the horror begins in a structure haunted by hostile demons. And the brunt of it falls on Danny, whose psychic abilities turn his mind into a virtual playtoy for the spirits hanging around the tragedy-ravaged hotel. Only hotel cook Halloran (Melvin Van Peebles) shares Danny's telepathic ability, which he calls "shining," and communicates to the boy he can be summoned if help is needed. Almost immediately, the ghosts come out to play, and Danny --- hearing voices and seeing undead faces, including that of an invisible friend named Tony --- falls into trances and regularly sees ghastly sights that he is forced to will away by counting to 10. But where this "Shining" really begins to pick up steam is in part two, when Jack's cabin fever, his alcoholism and the invasive spirits lead to emotional abuse of his wife and son, and tantrums that turn increasingly violent. As Jack descends into madness, this becomes more than just a good scare. It turns into a cautionary tale about the ravages of alcoholism and the ways it can rip a family to pieces (particularly when the evil spirits are working overtime). None of this would work if the actors weren't up to the task. De Mornay, as the luminous and clear-headed Wendy, delivers a dynamic performance in a complex role. Weber turns in what has to be his best dramatic work ever; it's hard to imagine that this troubled mess of a man could be the same guy who cracks wise on "Wings." As for youngster Mead, he is simply a revelation, communicating more in his spellbinding eyes than a million Olsen twins. He strikes just the right balance of terror and childish wonder, allowing the two to co-exist and never clash. King lends this adaptation a rich psychological energy that the original lacked, helping the piece to play on several levels. Mick Garris' direction expertly captures the material, making great use of the claustrophobic setting inside the hotel and letting the suspense to build at its own sweet pace. If "The Shining" has a weakness in comparison to its predecessor, it's that it lacks some of the trademark visions of horror --- the elevator-driven blood, the ax-wielding Nicholson. But it makes up for that with a consistent, carefully textured story that rarely gives you the chance to properly breathe.

With:
Cast: Rebecca De Mornay, Steven Weber, Courtland Mead, Melvin Van Peebles, Wil Horneff, Elliot Gould, John Durbin, Stanley Anderson, Pat Hingle.

Stephen King’s The Shining (Sun. (27), Mon. (28) and Thurs. (1); 9-11 p.m.; ABC) Filmed in Estes Park, Colo., and in and around Denver by Lakeside Prods. in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producer, Stephen King; producer, Mark Carliner; supervising producer, Elliot Friedgen; associate producer, Laura Gibson; director, Mick Garris; writer, Stephen King (from his novel); director of photography, Shelly Johnson; production designer, Craig Stearns; visual effects supervisor, Boyd Shermis; special effects, Lou Carlucci; music, Nicholas Pike; editor, Patrick McMahon; art director, Randy Moore; set decorator, Ellen Totleben; costume designer, Warden Neil. Cast: Rebecca De Mornay, Steven Weber, Courtland Mead, Melvin Van Peebles, Wil Horneff, Elliot Gould, John Durbin, Stanley Anderson, Pat Hingle. Granted, “Stephen King’s The Shining” doesn’t have a maniacal Jack Nicholson chopping down the door and shouting, “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!,” but this six-hour vidpic is a far more unsettling and compelling piece of filmmaking than the megahyped original. At the very least, it’s the strongest miniseries of this year’s two sweeps periods. Stephen King has made no secret of his displeasure with director Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 big-screen version of his horrific bestseller “The Shining.” Too bloody. Too over-the-top. Too far afield from his vision of a snowbound domestic nightmare. But when you hold the keys to sweeps miniseries nirvana, you carry an awful lot of clout. With “The Stand,” “It,” “The Tommyknockers” and “The Langoliers,” King has been ABC’s big-event savior. So the network had to listen when he told them he wanted to remake “The Shining” and this time do it right. Just to make sure, he would adapt the teleplay himself — and executive produce. And make no mistake, this is a miniseries, not a glorified two-night movie. At six hours, its slowness is carefully calculated; the edge-of-your-seat creepiness unfolds with a languid believability that will rope in viewers early andhold them. This mini earns its massive length, using every minute to paint a picture of surprising emotional complexity and depth. Frightening without being especially gory until the endgame involving croquet mallets, the three-nighter (ABC has brazenly skedded the conclusion opposite NBC’s Thursday-night lineup) stars Rebecca De Mornay and Steven Weber of “Wings” as Wendy and Jack Torrance, a couple troubled by his longtime battle with the bottle. You know the story. Jack, a struggling writer and alcoholic, takes a job as the winter caretaker at the remote Colorado resort hotel the Overlook. He hopes the isolation will help him finally pen that stage play. Wendy is more concerned with keeping the family together and quelling Jack’s violent outbursts — including one in which he broke the arm of 7-year-old son Danny (Courtland Mead). It sounds like it will be paradise. But with the roads impassable due to snow, the horror begins in a structure haunted by hostile demons. And the brunt of it falls on Danny, whose psychic abilities turn his mind into a virtual playtoy for the spirits hanging around the tragedy-ravaged hotel. Only hotel cook Halloran (Melvin Van Peebles) shares Danny’s telepathic ability, which he calls “shining,” and communicates to the boy he can be summoned if help is needed. Almost immediately, the ghosts come out to play, and Danny — hearing voices and seeing undead faces, including that of an invisible friend named Tony — falls into trances and regularly sees ghastly sights that he is forced to will away by counting to 10. But where this “Shining” really begins to pick up steam is in part two, when Jack’s cabin fever, his alcoholism and the invasive spirits lead to emotional abuse of his wife and son, and tantrums that turn increasingly violent. As Jack descends into madness, this becomes more than just a good scare. It turns into a cautionary tale about the ravages of alcoholism and the ways it can rip a family to pieces (particularly when the evil spirits are working overtime). None of this would work if the actors weren’t up to the task. De Mornay, as the luminous and clear-headed Wendy, delivers a dynamic performance in a complex role. Weber turns in what has to be his best dramatic work ever; it’s hard to imagine that this troubled mess of a man could be the same guy who cracks wise on “Wings.” As for youngster Mead, he is simply a revelation, communicating more in his spellbinding eyes than a million Olsen twins. He strikes just the right balance of terror and childish wonder, allowing the two to co-exist and never clash. King lends this adaptation a rich psychological energy that the original lacked, helping the piece to play on several levels. Mick Garris’ direction expertly captures the material, making great use of the claustrophobic setting inside the hotel and letting the suspense to build at its own sweet pace. If “The Shining” has a weakness in comparison to its predecessor, it’s that it lacks some of the trademark visions of horror — the elevator-driven blood, the ax-wielding Nicholson. But it makes up for that with a consistent, carefully textured story that rarely gives you the chance to properly breathe.

Stephen King's the Shining

Sun. (27), Mon. (28) and Thurs. (1); 9-11 p.m.; ABC

Production: Filmed in Estes Park, Colo., and in and around Denver by Lakeside Prods. in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producer, Stephen King; producer, Mark Carliner; supervising producer, Elliot Friedgen; associate producer, Laura Gibson; director, Mick Garris; writer, Stephen King (from his novel);

Cast: Cast: Rebecca De Mornay, Steven Weber, Courtland Mead, Melvin Van Peebles, Wil Horneff, Elliot Gould, John Durbin, Stanley Anderson, Pat Hingle.Director of photography, Shelly Johnson; production designer, Craig Stearns; visual effects supervisor, Boyd Shermis; special effects, Lou Carlucci; music, Nicholas Pike; editor, Patrick McMahon; art director, Randy Moore; set decorator, Ellen Totleben; costume designer, Warden Neil.

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