Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten, or unknown film and TV credits, continues this week with works featuring Jimmy Smits.
The Tommyknockers “Part 2” (1993)
Directed by John Power
Teleplay by Lawrence D. Cohen
Based on the novel by Stephen King
For my review of The Tommyknockers Part 1 I spent a lot of time talking about how people get infected by the glowing cement but not much defining what getting infected means. It’s a difficult question to answer. Every person seems to respond differently. You’ll know that something is wrong, or get a vague (or glaring) sense that they’re acting strange, but sometimes that’s all there is to go on. Symptoms run the gamut from mind reading, the mentioned itch to invent, disappearances (poor Hilly’s little brother, Davey, marks the second time this week, along with Gotham, where I’ve seen a magic show participant regret volunteering) to now, in Part 2, losing teeth and drinking soda obsessively (a ‘negative’ symptom I take offense to—way to be subtle with the Cola Cool logo, Tommyknockers).
In terms of a pattern, and what combination of side effects each local exhibits, there isn’t one, only that Bobby, as the finder of the cement (new theory: the green glow is Kryptonite and the folks of Haven are being transformed into metahumans) gets the brunt of the damage. She’s managed to procure a bulldozer to continue her dig, it turns out for an entrance, and during one terribly overdone/wonderful scene Jim reacts to her sudden, feverish state by taking it out on a book shelf, finding vodka behind it, and smashing the bottle in despair. The telepathic typewriter runs madly in the background but Jim doesn’t bother to read any of the pages, a seemingly missed opportunity for clues and insight into Bobby’s mind.
Tommyknockers Part 1 was good (and I miss Allyce Beasley, who doesn’t make a reappearance in Part 2) but Part 2 is great, with everything bigger and more bat-crazy than before. The whole town except Jim is infected, who faces more temptations to drink. Creepy dolls are attacking, leading to the question why someone would shelter their doll collection at a police station, and sonic lipsticks are reminiscent of Sarah Jane Smith and Agent 99. Priorities among the adults are grossly misplaced, with dogs being put before grandpas, boyfriends before children, gadgets before sons, and girlfriends before the entire town population. Marg Helgenberger gets to play every emotion this time around as Bobby, from ecstasy to anger to sickly panic, while ghoulish grey circles around her eyes mark the physical tolls of leadership. Never certain how she will react, she may be under the Tommyknockers thrall but parts of her are still Bobby, including the part that overrides general consensus to kill Jimmy Smits’ Jim. As predicted, Jim gets to play the hero here but, surrounded by people who distrust him, that means a lot of guarded feelings and fake playing along. Smits renders Jim’s dawning awareness of how alone and cut off he is honestly. Less convincing: how unpainful he makes out pulling your own tooth to be (The Americans tells the true story).
Verdict: Buried Treasure
By never clarifying exactly what the Tommyknockers can and can’t do there’s not much to say about whether the ending is believable. It’s certainly not a fight, as the Tommyknockers are generous in their single file attack strategy, but what the miniseries lacks in seriousness and scares, it replenishes with quality, low-fi genre laughs.
Check back tomorrow for Jimmy Smits performance as a revolutionary with legacy issues.