Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Librarians: And Santa's Midnight Run Review


In the world of guest stars and casting, having Bruce Campbell as Santa Claus has to be among the most unique and intriguing.  Santa's Midnight Run was a sharp, witty, thoroughly original take on both the Santa myth and a nice confection of Yuletide cheer.  We got both a fun and heartwarming story where we find that dreams really do come true if you believe.

Santa Claus (Campbell) is at a London soup kitchen, not just feeding the homeless but talking a thief out of taking from the poor.  Unfortunately, the Serpent Brotherhood has nabbed Santa and plan to kill him at the stroke of midnight Christmas Eve.   Jenkins (John Larroquette) informs the Librarians of the Santa-napping and that it is up to them go rescue The Claus.  The news that Santa's real surprises Cassandra (Lindy Booth), who was told at age three that Santa didn't exist.  She so wished to be able to believe in Santa.  This rescue isn't exactly something Jake Stone (Christian Kane) is looking forward to either.  He'd much prefer a good old-fashioned Christmas bar-fight.  Ezekiel Jones (John Kim) believes he is the best person to re-steal Santa, though it would go against his own wish to know what it was like to be good, just once.  I figure Jones has been on the Naughty List for quite some time.

Eve (Rebecca Romijin) for her part, refuses to believe in Santa Claus.  This is due to having had the awful experiences of having spent many Christmases in war zones.  Her great wish to have a peaceful Christmas was constantly denied.  The fact that Santa does Ho-Ho-Ho through life doesn't help matters.  The rescue actually goes over well and cleverly: showing up in London, Eve and Jake distract both Dulaque (Matt Frewer) and his henchwoman Lamia (Lesley-Ann Brandt) while Jones and Cassandra spirit Santa away.  They must get him to the North Pole by Christmas, for we learn Santa's real purpose.

Santa does not so much deliver gifts as he delivers hope.  Santa is an avatar of goodwill.  He travels the world throughout the year to collect the goodwill of others and releases it via the magical channels that cross the Earth on December 24/25, giving people The Gift...the gift of goodwill and hope.  The Serpent Brotherhood wants to use that gift for their own nefarious plans, and if it means killing Santa, so be it.

In an effort to deceive the Brotherhood, Jones slips on Santa's hat as Stone and Cassandra drive in one direction while Eve and the real Santa go in the other.  There must have been some magic in that old silk hat he wore, for Jones soon starts adopting a more cheerful and selfless demeanor (much to his horror).  He even goes so far as to bake cookies for everyone! 

Trying to keep Santa safe is not easy, especially since Eve discovers that the hat is what keeps Santa's current persona from slipping into other versions of Sinterklass.  At one point Santa (whose habit of referring to himself in the third person drives Eve bonkers) becomes Nicholas the Wonderworker, a prankster who is having too much fun with people sent out to kill him.  Another time he takes on the persona of the Norse god Odin, who can outdrink anyone at a bar and whose war-like aggression causes a bar fight.  They finally get Father Christmas aboard a plane, though Eve has to pilot it herself (thanks to Jones, who in a Christmas spirit tells the sad Canadian pilot to go home to his fiancée, which shocks Cassandra and Jones himself).  Santa's flight C-XMA45 is heading towards Alaska but is attacked by Duloque and Lamia, who manage to get Santa's sleigh.  The Librarians manage to get rid of the Brotherhood thanks to getting Duloque to wear the hat.  While it doesn't overtake him completely, it weakens him enough to be more generous, but no fear...he manages to fly out of the airplane without worries.

Once in Alaska, Santa is too weak to be a good avatar.  It requires someone who is born on the day, say, a girl named "Eve".  Santa and Eve join forces and she is spread throughout the world simultaneously, where she sees the good in people.  Santa leaves, apparently going home to his wife Gretchen (aka Mrs. Claus), and with that, the Librarians throw a surprise birthday party for Eve.  There, they see that each received a gift: Cassandra learns Santa is real,  Stone got into a bar-fight, Jones saw himself as a good person, and Eve has a nice, peaceful Christmas surrounded by friends.

What I really enjoyed about Santa's Midnight Run was that it played with all the ideas about Santa and turned them around.  First, rather than the fat, jolly old elf, Santa came in the form of Bruce Campbell, and it can't get any more inspired than that.   Campbell is excellent as Santa, who can bring the genuine compassion he has for people in despair (his opening scene with the gunman was excellent) and the playful Santa.  His scenes with Romijin where he can't help going ho-ho-ho despite her obvious displeasure were also spot-on.  Campbell can play it both serious and humorous, which isn't surprising given that I've always felt Campbell was a better actor than even he gives himself credit for.

The other highlight was that Santa's Midnight Run was not afraid of being funny.  It was a light, frothy episode that was meant to amuse the viewer with a fantastical tale with humor, and it delivered.  It's been brought to my attention that Christian Kane has a hardcore fan base which dubs itself "Kane Nation" (Kaniacs, I understand they're called).  Would that make one a "Citizen Kane"?  In any case, I'm very close to joining the Kane Nation myself, as Kane was wonderfully wry and witty as the art-loving tough guy.  When he quickly identifies what building Santa is being held in due to the architecture, he seems genuinely surprised no one appreciates buildings (by the way, I'm a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which I'm sure Jake would appreciate).  "Architecture is just art we live in," he says to himself.  What a delightful way of revealing Stone's great (and secret) love.

Kane and Romijin also have a wonderful moment as they terrify the Brotherhood by playing around with priceless works of art as their diversionary tactic, and as the Brotherhood rush out to try and stop Jones and Cassandra from rescuing Santa, Stone leaps to catch a rare Asian sculpture he was tossing around.  Jake Stone, man's man extraordinare, couldn't bear the thought of seeing a thousand-plus year old piece of history in danger.

Kim and Booth were also delightful as the unnaturally cheerful and upbeat Jones and the naturally cheerful and upbeat Cassandra.  In particular was Kim, who made both the cheerful master thief hilarious and his horror at his own cheeriness even more hilarious.  The Librarians now has a solid core whose interactions will be, if handled correctly, something wonderful to watch.  As the group's mentor, Larroquette is dryly humorous (as he wheels around a portable payphone in talking with Gretchen Claus, he brings laughs and also reveals how old-fashioned Jenkins is).   Even Frewer gets into the act, as Duloque is gleefully and unapologetically evil.  Any man who can leap out of an airplane without worrying in the least has a few more tricks up his sleeve.

Santa's Midnight Run was both light-hearted and touching, a nice way to explore the characters and a good old-fashioned lark from start to finish.  It's a lot like The Librarians as a whole: fun, breezy, unapologetically delightful and spinning its own mythos.

I can only hope that Bruce Campbell will make a return guest appearance in a future Librarians episode.  Maybe he could bring the good Mrs. Gretchen Claus with him.  Of course, this is deviation from the tradition about Santa's other half.

I always thought her name was Mary Christmas...

I DO Believe in Santie Claus...I DO, I DO!


Next Episode: And the Apple of Discord 


  1. I'm glad that you enjoyed the episode as well. I agree, Campbell is a blast as Santa, and the multiple versions of the Santa was a really fun idea. I cracked up when he turned into Odin!

    What I like about the Librarians is that even though it can be dumb at times, it is so camp and goofy that I can just enjoy it.


    1. The Librarians is exactly what it appears to be: goofy, light, enjoyable and unapologetically so. So far it's been a good first season.

  2. I enjoyed it thoroughly .. Such good clean family fun .. i will be watching each and every episode of #TheLibrarians with Christian Kane.. such fun!

    1. I pretty much should surrender and official join the Kane Nation, shouldn't I?

      That is perhaps The Librarians' greatest point: its own self-awareness. It doesn't pretend to be anything other than a fun time, and fun times are to be had.


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