For Christmas, we all piled into the car and headed to New Hampshire to spend the holiday with my wife’s parents. After all the festivities of the big day were over, my wife, her mom and the two kids went out to do some shopping. Not even remotely interested in that plan, my father-in-law and I remained at the house where we watched the first four episodes of TNT’s new fantasy adventure show The Librarians. My mother-in-law had seen a few episodes, liked them and so we decided to go on a mini-binge.
If you’re not familiar, this new hour-long show takes place in the same world set up in the 2004 TV movie The Librarian: Quest For The Spear and it’s follow ups 2006’s Return To King Solomon’s Mines and the 2008 offering Curse Of The Judas Chalice. If that means absolutely nothing to you, don’t worry. I’ve never seen the movies either and had no trouble following the two part series openers called “And The Crown Of King Arthur” and “And The Sword In The Stone” that introduce us to this world and also establish the new status quo for the show.
The deal is that there’s this extra-dimensional place called The Library that has one guy going out and retrieving magical artifacts so they don’t fall into the wrong hands. He or she is dubbed The Librarian. The main Librarian is Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle), but as the series kicks off someone is trying to kill previous candidates for the job. That’s how newbies Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn), Jake Stone (Christian Kane), Cassandra Cillian (Lindy Booth) and Ezekiel Jones (John Kim) join in on the fun.
After the first two episodes, they’re the main focus along with their mentor Jenkins played by John Larroquette with Wyle set to pop up here and there. Thanks to a magical book in their annex, the group finds out about mysterious happenings around the world and deploy to keep regular folks safe from misused magic. So far those dangers have included the mysterious Serpent Brotherhood organization, a minotaur, dragons and a conclave of mystical beings.
Basically, if you like Doctor Who or Warehouse 13, The Librarians is probably right up your alley. That is if you don’t mind a fair amount of similarities to those other shows. At times Wyle plays Flynn much like Matt Smith or David Tennant portrayed the iconic BBC Time Lord. You could also argue the similarities between Librarians and Doctors, but they feel different enough to me to get a pass. Along similar lines the story engine here — retrieving special objects with complicated stories behind them — is very much like the one fueling Warehouse. To be fair, the first Librarian movie predates Warehouse by a few years, though I don’t know how many of the elements I just mentioned were in those films.
These damiliar elements don’t bother me because I feel like the Librarians group offers different dynamics thanks to the new blood brought one. One’s a mathematical genius with synesthesia, another is an expert on historical artifacts but doesn’t want anyone to know it. You’ve also got a world class thief and a grounded soldier dealing with all of these fantastical aspects of reality.
My only real complaint is related to the Christmas-themed episode called “And Santa’s Midnight Run” in which it’s revealed that Santa (Bruce Campbell) is a mystical being who collects good will throughout the year and then basically releases it down on humanity to replenish their goodness. The episode is fine from a story perspective and Campbell was a delight as Santa, but my problem comes from this supremely negative approach to humanity which basically says that we’re all too evil to actually be good on our own. I don’t think that idea is reflected through the rest of the series — especially because you’re dealing with very flawed human characters going up against the fantastical every week. It seems to me like a good idea that was hatched in the room possibly without thinking about the greater meaning.
All in all, I dig The Librarians and will keep coming back for more because I enjoy the characters and want to not only learn more about them, but watch them grow in their new roles. Plus, there’s a solid sprinkling of mystery in there so it’s not annoying like some shows, but intriguing enough to keep me hooked.