THE LIBRARIANS Review: A Fun But Goofy New Series, Based On TNT’s Movie Franchise

     December 7, 2014

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When looking for a new series idea, TNT went back into its old archives, much like the title protagonist The Librarian might do.  In 2004, TNT created a trilogy movie series starring Noah Wyle as Librarian Flynn Carsen, who in charge of a secret store of artifacts (many of them — most, actually — being magical).  Wyle has returned for this new installment of the Librarian franchise, which could easily be titled The Librarians: The Next Generation.  Hit the jump for why the title is now plural.

the-librarians-3For those unfamiliar, the Librarian (singular), is a man chosen by the Library itself to protect its collection, and help save the world from nefarious sorts (which happens a lot).  Once a Librarian dies (which also happens a lot), a new one takes his or her place.  Though the Librarian has many magical artifacts at his or her disposal, the series makes clear that the mind is one’s greatest weapon.

It’s a little bit Indiana Jones, a little Sherlock, a little Doctor Who, a little Sleepy Hollow (the new, crazy Fox version), and a hefty dose of Da Vinci CodeNational Treasure … you get the idea.

In this version, Wyle, as Flynn, (who also stars in the TNT series Falling Skies) carries the first two episodes of The Librarians himself, before suggesting he will just be a brief figure in the series.  The Library itself is in peril, not to mention that a lot of magic has just been released back into the world, so Flynn finally acknowledges he needs some extra hands.  Those come in the form of a Guardian, Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn), whose day job is a counter-terrorism colonel, as well as a set of Librarians-In-Training: genius cowboy Jake Stone (Christian Kane), mousy synesthe, Cassandra (Lindy Booth), and a tech wiz-kid who is also a master thief, Ezekiel Jones (John Kim).

Having not watched the original movie trilogy, I can only make assumptions about how the new series ties in with the old.  But I also purposefully stayed away after seeing The Librarians pop up on the schedule; TV series should be able to stand on their own, without relying on homework source material.  Ideally, there would be enough there to entice new viewers, as well as some jokes and references to fans of the original movies (like, I’m assuming, Flynn talking about his ten years working alone, and his first job collecting the Spear of Destiny).

the-librarians-tv-show-2The Librarians seems to achieve all of this, bounding out of the gate with a gun-filled action sequence, and plenty of humor (much of it really goofy).  Wyle is magnetic in his role, and it will be a big loss not to have him week to week.  The new cast, though, is likable and has potential, with Romijn anchoring the series as the more serious and focused Guardian.  John Larroquette is also a very welcomed presence as a sardonic library annex caretaker Jenkins, a sort of Jeeves figure for the new class.

The Librarians fits in with TNT’s breezier programming, and it also seems pretty kid-friendly.  There’s a lot of magic, and plenty of familiar cultural touchstones (the first two episodes focus mainly on well-trod Arthurian legends).  It’s also cashing in, if a few steps behind, on the zeitgeist thrust of television series focused on magical and mystical things.

Ultimately, The Librarians seems like a fun addition to the original movie franchise, with more room to grow and explore its supernatural realm (although, its premiere event ends with Jenkins explaining that there’s a book that adds information about mysteries every day, setting up a firmly procedural framework).  The Librarians is not exactly essential viewing, and it remains to be seen how the show will hold up without Wyle’s constant presence.  But its non-serious attitude is fun, and its ties to the original movie series gives it a built-in depth when it comes to its own mythology.  Worth checking out.

The Librarians begins with a 2-episode premiere Sunday, December 7th at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

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