ABC (Sun., April 27; Man., April 28; and Thurs., May 1, 9 p.m. ET)
Stephen King has churned out a zillion words over the years, and he seems determined to have the last one on The Shining, his 1977 novel. Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film version, in which Jack Nicholson’s eyebrows set a world high-jump record, took liberties with the book. Now here’s the presumably definitive version: a six-hour miniseries, with King as executive producer, scriptwriter and bit player.
Steven Weber (Wings) assumes the Nicholson role of Jack Torrance, a frustrated, alcoholic writer serving as caretaker at a remote Colorado hotel that closes for the winter. Snowbound with his wife, Wendy (Rebecca De Mornay), and their 7-year-old clairvoyant son Danny (Courtland Mead), Jack falls off the wagon and slowly loses his mind. Goaded by the hotel’s resident ghosts, he goes after his family with an oversize croquet mallet. The teleplay tries to humanize Jack by alluding frequently to the abuse he endured as a child, and Weber gives the character some needed shading. De Mornay’s strong, sexy Wendy is an improvement on the doormat portrayed by Shelley Duvall in the movie. But The Shining suffers from the curse of the three-nighter: a draggy Part 2 that makes us wish we could get away to Florida with hotel cook Dick Halloran (Melvin Van Peebles), Danny’s psychic friend. Dick hurries back in Part 3 to find Jack cracking jokes when he’s supposed to be at his scariest. His lines have changed from the movie, but this maniac still picks a strange time to spoof Ed McMahon.