The Tommyknockers is the 1993 television miniseries adaptation of the novel The Tommyknockers.
Differences Between Novel and Film
Although generally true to the spirit of the Stephen King novel on which it is based, the miniseries was also very different. The differences include:
- In the novel, the Constable's last name is McCausland, not Merrill.
- In the novel an odorless gas affects the townspeople, but in the miniseries it is a psychic emanation (which is not explained in detail). In the novel the gas is radioactive, so that anyone entering town dies almost immediately from radiation poisoning. The gas also changes the people into aliens, rather than siphoning their energy. The gas also forces the "becoming" to stay within the limits of its effect or die.
- In the novel the transformation causes everyone's teeth and hair fall out. Humans affected by the gas also have their blood congeal and turn green, their skin turns translucent, and their sexual organs disappear. Only the loss of a few teeth is depicted in the miniseries.
- In the novel, Becka Paulson is told of her husband's infidelity by a picture of Jesus Christ on top of her TV. In the miniseries, she is told by Chaz Stewart, a talk show host on TV.
- In the novel, Becka Paulson dies while killing her husband. In the miniseries, she merely goes insane and is committed.
- In the novel, Davey Brown plays no large role in the story. He is teleported to an alien planet by his brother Hilly (referred to as "Altair IV") and returns at the end, appearing in Hilly's hospital room, safe and sound. In the miniseries, he is transported into the alien spacecraft, where he is imprisoned within the glowing, growing crystal to be drained of his life energy.
- Although Nancy Voss becomes psychotic while under alien control, no one else in the miniseries does. This differs widely from the novel, where psychotic violence becomes the norm.
- In the novel, Jim "Gard" Gardner has left-wing social and political views, and his discourses on such things as nuclear power, the threat of nuclear war, corruption in government, and the dehumanizing effects of technology inform much of the novel's allegorical aspects. In the miniseries, this aspect of Gardner's character is completely missing.
- In the novel, local, state, and federal governments are shown as totalitarian and corrupt. In the miniseries, although some state and local officials have personality conflicts, have a dysfunctional relationship, and perhaps are too bureaucratic, government and authority is seen as largely benign. Sherriff Merrill is portrayed very sympathetically in the miniseries.
- Note: Ruth Merrill was not the sheriff, but rather the town constable. She was not corrupt at all and was portrayed sympathetically in the novel; however her refusal to "become" saddened those in town. She used her new powers to rig a bomb in the clock tower, to try to bring attention from the outside to what was happening in the town. She was killed when it exploded.
- In the novel, Bobbi Anderson begins unearthing the alien spacecraft because the aliens drive her to do it. Jim Gardener joins her because he is afraid for his life, and does not want to cause trouble. Also, he wants to figure out a way to stop it to save Bobbi. This motive is absent in the miniseries. Instead, they unearth the object out of curiosity and the subtle psychic encouragement of the ship itself.
- Peter the dog is tortured and experimented on at length in the novel. However, the dog is shown as having not suffered at all in the miniseries.
- In the novel, Butch Duggan is brainwashed into killing himself after he and Ev Hillman go to Haven to investigate. In the miniseries, he is killed by an exploding soda machine.
- One of the largest changes concerns Anderson, the "becoming" transformation is irreversible, and Gardner mercy-kills her when she proves unable to free herself from the alien control. In the minseries, Gardner is able to get through to her by appealing to her love for her dog and her sympathy for the boy, and she is not only able to free herself from alien control but also survives.
- When the alien ship lifts off in the novel, it sets fires to the forest—killing nearly all of the townspeople. There is no fire in the miniseries and none of the townspeople are dead or affected in any way (except for Hilly Brown, who remains comatose). Many of the novel's transformed who survived the fire died afterwards, since they could not survive away from the alien gas emitted by the craft. In the miniseries, the townspeople immediately returned to normal.
- The novel ends with several government agencies imprisoning the few turned townspeople who have survived, confiscating the remaining alien technology and killing the townspeople who have not completely "become" or whom they do not wish to imprison. Since there were no lasting Because the effects of the ship on the townspeople are reversed in the miniseries, none of these events occur.
- Anderson's sister Anne briefly appears in the book and winds up as one of those connected into the power system in the shed. She does not appear at all in the miniseries.
- In the novel, the aliens in the spaceship remain dead, but in the mini-series they come to life and attack Gardener.
- Marg Helgenberger as Roberta Anderson
- Jimmy Smits as Jim Gardener
- Joanna Cassidy as Ruth Merrill
- Allyce Beasley as Rebecca Paulson
- Cliff DeYoung as Joe Paulson
- John Ashton as Butch Dugan
- Robert Carradine as Bryant Brown
- Annie Corley as Marie Brown
- E. G. Marshall as Ev Hillman
- Traci Lords as Nancy Voss
- Chuck Henry as Chaz Stewart
- Bill Johnson as Elt Barker
- Paul McIlver as David Brown
- Leon Brown as Hilly Brown
- Yvonne Lawley as Mabel Noyes