Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Librarians: And the Christmas Thief Review


Having met Santa Claus in the first season, it's now time to meet his evil brother, and it isn't Fred Claus.  And the Christmas Thief is, unsurprisingly, focused on our Master Thief, Ezekiel Jones (John Kim).  It's a perfect holiday concoction: light, frothy, no interest in taking itself seriously, with a nice message about the importance of family.

Librarian Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle, who directed the episode) along with his sweetheart/Guardian Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn) and a very reluctant and unwilling Jenkins (John Larroquette) are going on a vacation with Santa and all his elves to a beach resort.  While the parents are away, they tell the kids, Jacob Stone (Christian Kane), Cassandra Cillian (Lindy Booth) and Ezekiel to not use Santa's sleigh for any joyriding.

Needless to say, Jake is desperate to go for a spin, but the cheerful Cassandra aka the responsible sister, isn't about to let him.  Jones for his part just wants out of the festivities and cheerful demeanor (as well as the 'ugly' sweaters Cassandra made for him and Stone, both of which call out to their personalities and both of which horrify them.

To get away, he uses the magic door to visit his mother Lenore (Gia Garides) and his sisters Charity, Honor, and Mercy, all of whom must be ironically named as they posses none of those qualities.  Far from it: all of them are trained thieves, celebrating Thanks-taking, the polar opposite of Thanksgiving, where they gift their mother with things they've stolen and offer it to the Saint of Thieves*.

Zeke is a bit of a disappointment to Lenore: he hasn't stolen his gift and they all still snicker about when he brought them some egg (they having no idea who Faberge was).  To prove his worth, he spirits his mother to the Library, a big no-no in so many ways.  It isn't long till she uses the magic globe that controls the transporting room to have a stealing orgy.  With no door to go through, they have to use Santa's sleigh to Jake's delight and Cassandra's horror.

The globe has a malfunction and at the worst time: Lenore has gone overboard and stolen Vermeer's The Concert, a painting that has yet to be recovered.  She didn't steal it from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum back in 1990.  She stole it from the Thieves Bank itself, run by the Saint of Thieves.

The Librarians get her to return it, but now they are trapped by the Saint of Thieves himself (Steven Weber).  Worse, the Saint now has Santa's sleigh, and with it he can enact revenge against his brother.  "No Sleigh, No Christmas, No Santa," he reasons.  It looks like it's all over, but like kids who find themselves over their heads, they call Grandpa for help.

The solution is simplicity itself: Jenkins arrives after having helped Stone and Cassandra repair the teleporting globe and presents the Saint of Thieves with the title to the sleigh...as a gift.  As the Saint of Thieves cannot accept anything freely given, he loses the sleigh and turns into what Jenkins calls 'a petulant little boy'.  Jenkins promises never to mention this whole affair to Flynn and Eve as his Christmas gift, and thankful to get away from Santa's awful EDM party.

With the 'parents' none the wiser, the Librarians return to celebrate Christmas with 'family', while Ezekiel gets a gift he longs for: his mother's love and her reformation.

And the Christmas Thief is as I said: cute, rapid, and what we'd call 'a romp'.  It has some funny moments (Stone's reaction to being almost kissed in gratitude by Jones), and funny bits (Jones' unfamiliarity with the reindeer, asking how they could take the sleigh without 'Comet, Cancer, Flasher, Nixon').

It also has a nice shout-out to the formerly great Doctor Who (which The Librarians draws heavy inspiration from).  "Our shed is bigger on the inside," she proclaims to her son when they go inside, echoing a familiar refrain whenever someone else enters the TARDIS.

The performances reflect the lighthearted manner to And the Christmas Thief.  Weber camps it up for all its worth as the Saint of Thieves without being too broad.  The moments when he speaks in a 'demonic' voice alter his character to being almost a frightening one, but for the most part Weber plays things in a wry manner.   Guest star Garides was strong as the tacky, dismissive Lenore, who doesn't understand her son until she spends time seeing how he works.  The transformation is wonderful to see.

The main cast, or in this case Kane, Booth and Kim all worked well in their separate roles.  Kane showed off a rarely-seen side of his character: his childlike enthusiasm for things.  Stone's delight at Santa's sleigh having a candy-cane key and glee at driving it around shows a lighter side to the character.  Booth's Cassandra lends a touch of wickedness when she taunts the three sisters with a little 'Boo' after she pretends to be a Ghost of Christmas.

Kim was a little more unbalanced: good when dealing with the Thieves at the Thief's Bank (itself a wildly clever idea), not so good when trying to show his hurt as being a black sheep to his sisters.    However, when with Garides explaining his change, he does well.  "When you've got a lot, you share," he tells a disbelieving Lenore.  Words to live by.

In many ways, And the Christmas Thief reminds me of a family sitcom: the 'parents' (slightly dotty Father Flynn, stronger and smarter Mother Eve) are off on vacation, leaving the 'kids' (the older brother Jacob eager to try the family wheels, the responsible middle sister Cassandra trying to get the boys to be responsible, the youngest Ezekiel just wanting attention and affection).  It takes crusty Grandpa (Jenkins) to sort it all out. 

A nice pleasant romp, And the Christmas Thief has a breezy story and performances to match that make it all so delightful.

*There appears to be an actual 'Saint of Thieves', who goes unnamed in And the Christmas Thief.  St. Dismas is the name given to the "Good Thief" who was crucified with Jesus Christ on Calvary, the one who begged The Lord to remember him when He ascended Heaven only to have Him tell the thief that he too would be in Paradise.  All that would have been a bit too theological. 

Curiously, St. Nicholas, the historic figure behind Santa Claus, is in a way the Patron Saint of Thieves...reformed thieves, that is.


Next Episode: And the Silver Screen

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