AND THE CROWN OF KING ARTHUR/
AND THE SWORD IN THE STONE
I have a bit of a personal stake in The Librarians, the new TNT series adapted from a series of television movies starring Noah Wyle. It so happens I AM a librarian myself, or rather a.) I work AT a library and b.) am charging towards my Master's in Library Science. Therefore, in a certain way, I feel very protective of my chosen profession. The Librarians is a fantasy show, fun, frothy, fast-paced, and fun. It knows what it is and doesn't pretend to be anything else.
Curiously though, despite its fantasy premise and reliance on magic, it's actually more logical than the last TNT show I watched (Franklin & Bash). I come at this from a different perspective in that while I know of The Librarian series of television films, I've never actually gotten around to seeing any of them (Quest for the Spear, Return to King Solomon's Mines, and Curse of the Judas Chalice). Therefore, I went into The Librarians if not completely fresh at least with extremely limited knowledge. On the whole, I think it might have helped a touch to know a little bit about what came before the two-hour premiere, but it won't stop someone from at least hitting the ground running and starting a new franchise that will build its own following in the annals of current sci-fi/fantasy television series.
Colonel Eve Baird of NATO (Rebecca Romijn)is about to take down terrorists in Berlin when out of nowhere pops in Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle), The Librarian. He disarms an ancient weapon that the Nazis had left behind, and then as quickly disappears. Eve is both puzzled and irritated by this guy's appearance, but she soon finds herself joining forces with him. Eve received a message inviting her to join the Metropolitan Public Library, and here she not only finds that there is a massive underground Library where magical artifacts are being held, but Flynn as well, fencing with Excalibur (or Cal, as Flynn calls him). There is danger afoot, as potential Librarians are being targeted for assassination, and one was murdered in the Metropolitan Library's foyer. Over Flynn's objection, Eve becomes his Guardian, a protector/protectress for Librarians. Flynn's being doing very well without one, but he has no say in the matter.
Eve and Flynn soon accept that these three are important to stopping the Librarian's arch-rivals, an ancient cult known as the Serpent Brotherhood, from unleashing magic upon the world that will give the Brotherhood total domination. Now, the first order of business to do that is to find The Crown of King Arthur, which is important to control the magic. Jake the art expert, Jones the thief, and Cassandra the numbers all work together to find the crown and stay one step ahead of the Brotherhood. They do recover the Crown, but Cassandra has betrayed them. She believes releasing magic will be good and may lead to cures for illnesses, including her own. With that, the Brotherhood and their master assassin Lamia (Lesley-Ann Brandt) storm the Library. Emergency protocols are used, shutting the library down, but Flynn is stabbed by Excalibur, which is now controlled by Lamia since she wears the Crown of Arthur.
We move to Part II. A dying Flynn has enough time to bring Eve, Jake, and Jones out through a portal to Oregon, where Jenkins (John Larroquette) is waiting for them. He too is a Librarian, though he has no interest in searching for artifacts, devoting himself to quiet research at his branch. The Metropolitan Underground Library is sealed off, so this branch will have to do. Eve rallies a disheartened Flynn to stop the Brotherhood, and he realizes that Excalibur must be returned to the Stone from which it came to unleash the power. Where is the Stone? Why, underneath Buckingham Palace, of course!
The race is on between the Brotherhood and the Librarians to go underneath the Palace and get to the Stone. There is a battle there, where Lamia mocks Flynn and his crew. "One doomed by her gift, one who fled his gift, one who abuses it," she tells the dying Flynn. Who are THEY to go against the Brotherhood.
Well, they are the Librarians, who are armed with the greatest weapon the world has ever known...knowledge, science, and electromagnets. United, they defeat the Brotherhood, but Excalibur is about to die. Flynn offers the Sword to Cassandra, who has seen the error of her ways/was easily misled and helped her former team to cure her tumor, but she in turn uses it to save Flynn.
Flynn finds himself in charge, so he brings this group, the Librarians in Training, into the branch to a very reluctant Jenkins. Flynn and Eve finally acknowledge feelings for the other, but he is off to find the Main Library, leaving the LIT (Lit...how clever intentional or not) under both Eve and Jenkins' charge. Jake isn't too thrilled to have Cassandra around, but we shall see where things go.
I have not seen Warehouse 13 but I have read a lot of comments that The Librarians is some sort of knock-off/rip-off. I have also read that technically, The Librarian movies preceded Warehouse 13, so it's a case of who is copying whom. At the moment, it's of no interest to me which came first: the chicken or The Moon (refer to an episode of Doctor Who for that one). As for The Librarians itself, I found it enjoyable, fully aware of its own wild premise, and played with a great deal of fun.
Now, I should say that the special effects were pretty cheap-looking, and I think The Librarians knows this. This isn't Star Wars, but while they were obviously fake the fact that people played along with it indicates what kind of show The Librarians will be: frothy, fantasy-based but not overly complicated and fully self-aware.
I also thought the score was all over the place, veering between comic and action and being too attention-grabbing.
The characters were a bit hit-and-miss. The whole "sweet ill girl betrays the group" bit was a bit clichéd, as was the "tough military figure". However, I can forgive that because in a pilot we're not going to get a great deal of mystery and have to introduce the characters. Both Booth and Romijn are capable of making their characters believable, interesting, and aware that they are in a fantastical world and willing to face things as they are.
This premiere also means we also have to basically introduce Flynn, and Wyle has a mixture of strength and vulnerability that makes Flynn Carsen an enjoyable figure. He won't figure too prominently in The Librarians, appearing sporatically in the series, but as executive producer he will have a hand in shaping the franchise he is identified with.
Faring much better were the men. I enjoyed that Kim plays Jones and no one bothers wondering how an Asian can carry an Anglo surname and Cockney accent (I figure Kim is British, though I wonder if he's related to Joan Watson on Elementary). The standout I think is Kane's Jake. His character is perhaps the most complicated of the group. Cassandra is essentially the heart of the group: sweet, a bit naïve, but caring. Jones is the master thief: shrewd, living by his wits, one who enjoys his craft. Jake Stone, on the other hand, is one who in a sense has closeted himself: one who has a passion for art but who has chosen to hide his intellect beneath a Stetson. Future episodes I'm sure will focus on them as characters, and I hope we get to see how they came to be who they were soon.
Larroquette lends a wry humor to the situations, and guest stars Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin (reprising their roles from The Librarian movies) both serve to tie things together and lend more humor.
On the whole the entire cast works well together, forming a group that compliments each other and works well. They make a good team.
I enjoy that they will have a recurring nemesis to fight against, and that there are shout-outs to the power of intelligence. "Your brain is a weapon and a tool and a library all wrapped in one," Eve tells Flynn when he's feeling down on himself. If anything, The Librarians enjoys playing with the stereotypes of librarians as all head no muscle, the epitome of 'square'.
I think with The Librarians, we're suppose to have both laughs and thrills, and this it did, not perfectly but well-enough to pique my interest. It's frothy, it's a bit silly, but above all, it is fun, escapist entertainment that enjoys having magic.
I'll say it...The Librarians is worth checking out.
Next Episode: And the Horns of a Dilemma