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The Tommyknockers is a TV miniseries based on Stephen King's 1987 novel. An alien spacecraft has been buried beneath the Burning Woods near the small rural New England community of Haven for millions of years, but has now by chance been unearthed by Bobbi (Marg Helgenberger) while digging around in the woods behind her house. The structure in the woods begins to exert a glowing-green influence on the town, causing the people to invent Rube Goldberg-like gizmos, develop the gift of telepathy, lose their teeth, and form a hive-mind mentality bent on digging up the ship and revivifying the desiccated aliens within. Luckily, Bobbi's significant other is an alcoholic poet (Jimmy Smits) who needs to learn to face his fears. He also has a metal plate in his head that prevents the hive-minders from reading his thoughts and makes him immune to the neon-green influence of the aliens. Ultimately, it's up to him to save the day. Although the acting is topnotch, especially from Smits and Helgenberger, and there are plenty of gooseflesh moments, there are also enough plot holes here to fuel a very long and enjoyable evening's conversation. Why do the aliens start in at this time, when they've been causing legends in the woods for ages? Where does an alien ship buried for ages get all that dry ice? How does the Smits character make a living as a poet? One suspects that King's fine sense of New England characterizations is given short shrift here, and that the woods in his mind teem with more alien thoughts than the TV miniseries form could embody. Welcome appearances by congenial actors abound, notably Joanna Cassidy, E.G. Marshall and Robert Carradine. And there's a slutty postal letter-carrier played authentically by Traci Lords. (12**)


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