Author Jack Torrance works as caretaker at the Overlook Hotel, during the winter. He lives there isolated with his wife Wendy and his young son Danny. Jack Torrance's alcoholism and explosive temper have cost him his teaching job at Stovington, a respectable prep school. He is also on the verge of losing his family, after assaulting his young son Danny Torrance in a drunken rage just a year earlier. Horrified by what he has become, Jack tells his wife Wendy that should he ever start drinking again, he will leave them one way or another, implying that he would rather commit suicide than continue living as an alcoholic.
Now, nursing a life of sobriety and pulling in work as a writer, Jack and his family take on the job of looking after the Overlook Hotel, a large colonial building in a picturesque valley in the Southern Rocky Mountains. Hoping to succeed and move on as a writer, Jack is happy to take the job as it will provide desperately needed funds and the time to complete his first Play.
Upon entering the Overlook and meeting its head cook, Dick Hallorann, Danny discovers that his psychic powers grant him a form of telepathy. Hallorann tells Danny that he too "shines", and that Danny can contact him telepathically anytime he needs assistance.
It gradually becomes evident that the hotel's ghosts are more than figurative and far from peaceful. There is a force within the building that seems determined to use Danny for an unknown, possibly sinister purpose. This force manifests itself with flickering lamps and spectral voices and eventually a full-on masked ball from the Overlook's past.
Danny is the first to fully notice the darker character of the hotel, having experienced visions and warnings that foreshadow what he and his parents will encounter over the winter. Jack's character becomes progressively darker, first by scolding Danny for violating his rules that he was to stay out of the guest rooms, then eventually returning to his drunken self (the ghosts supplying an open bar for Jack prior to their ball).
In order to achieve its goal, the hotel takes over the person dearest to Danny: his father. Halloran, who had been contacted telepathically by Danny, travels from Florida to Colorado only to be assaulted by Jack with a roque mallet and left for dead. Danny telepathically communicates with his father, who finally breaks free of the ghosts' grip, then realizes the boiler has been neglected. Danny, Wendy, and Halloran (who had only been stunned by the attack) escape to safety as Jack runs to the boiler room to sacrifice himself by allowing the boiler to explode and destroy the Overlook. 10 years later, Danny graduates from high school (we see that Tony is Danny's adult self) with his mother and Halloran present at the ceremony, as well as seeing the ghost of his father being proud of him.
Back in Colorado, the Overlook is being rebuilt as a resort for the summer, as the ghosts of the original hotel start to wait for more potential victims.
The creation of this miniseries is attributed to Stephen King's dissatisfaction with director Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film of the same name. In order to receive Kubrick's approval to re-adapt The Shining into a program closer to the original story, King had to agree in writing to eschew his frequent public criticism of Kubrick's film, save for the sole commentary that he was disappointed with Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance as though he had been insane before his arrival at the Overlook Hotel.
Aside from the motive behind the creation of the miniseries, the 1997 rendition featured an important set piece that helped to inspire the original story: The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. King used the hotel that inspired him to write the book as the main exterior and the design of the interior sets. Scenes were also shot using the real interior; however, specific pieces of set dressing were used to enhance the old-fashioned feel of the building.
- Jack Torrance - Steven Weber
- Wendy Torrance - Rebecca De Mornay
- Danny Torrance - Courtland Mead
- Dick Hallorann - Melvin Van Peebles
- Lorraine Massey (Woman in Room 217) - Cynthia Garris