The Doctor put it best when he said “Books! Best weapons in the world! Arm yourself!” Certainly that applies to TNT’s latest series, The Librarians, based off of the made-for-TV movie franchise The Librarian. In the movies, Flynn Carsen (played by Noah Wyle of E.R.) is a brilliant but insecure fellow recruited to work at the Metropolitan Public Library. Instead of a safe job cataloging books, however, he’s thrown into a world of secret magical artifacts and protecting the world from those who would abuse the power.
The franchise bore three films: Quest for the Spear, Return to King Solomon’s Mines, and Quest for the Judas Chalice. The world set up by the films has always hinted at a bigger plan than just collecting and archiving magic artifacts. The Quest for the Judas Chalice specifically referred to an ages-long war between good and evil, with the Library representing the side of good. The Librarians TV series is finally exploring that war. The first episode features Flynn, now ten years into his run as The Librarian, and he’s somewhat hardened by his work. When The Library recruits Colonel Eve Baird to be his Guardian, he turns her away, claiming he’s always done fine on his own. But the two team up when they realize someone is assassinating potential Librarians as part of a larger plot.
My verdict: Hopeful. I waited until I saw more than just the first two episodes to comment on this show. The Librarians is currently facing the same balancing act that Agents of SHIELD had in its first season: giving you the necessary information from the films about how the universe works, while also introducing new characters AND laying the framework for each week’s plot. In addition, it’s also facing critical comparisons to Warehouse 13 and Doctor Who. Let’s get a few things straight: The Librarian film franchise predated Warehouse 13 by about five or six years. And considering Dean Devlin and John Rogers are heavily involved in the production, a Doctor Who influence is inevitable – check out the gazillion Whovian references they made in Leverage.
That being said, Librarians hasn’t hit its stride quiet yet, but I think it’s getting there much faster than AoS did. Transitioning from the films, where there was only one Librarian, one protagonist, to the series where there are three Librarians-in-Training and a total of four protagonists, is going to be difficult. But the first two episodes did a great job setting up the series. A mysterious cult called The Serpent Brotherhood is after the power of The Library because they want to release magic into the world. In an attempt to stop them, the employees of The Library cut its tie to our world, leaving Flynn stranded with Colonel Baird and the three potential Librarians.
Although The Library is safe, the Serpent Brotherhood still manages to release magic back into the world with confiscated artifacts like Excaliber and King Arthur’s crown. Flynn decides to “change the rules” and train the wannabe Librarians. He tasks Guardian Eve Baird with looking after them while he investigates how to get The Library back. Episode Three, “And the Horns of a Dilemma,” was the first without Flynn and a bit bumpy because of it. Cassandra, Jason, Ezekiel, and Eve are struggling to work as a team, especially with limited Library resources. However, Episode Four “And Santa’s Midnight Run,” certainly lived up to its message by giving me hope for the series. The dialogue and pacing were tighter, more believable, and can we talk about how gutsy it is to make your fourth episode a holiday one? Plus, you really can’t go wrong with Bruce Campbell as Santa Claus.
More than anything, though, I hope the writers of The Librarians take a page out of the Leverage playbook: treat the characters equally, make the women just as capable as the men on the team.
Colonel Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn)
Colonel Baird is a former NATO counter-terrorism agent. She encounters Flynn during a mission in Berlin: while he’s rambling about ancient artifacts, she’s a little more preocuppied with disarming a bomb. Later, she receives a mysterious summons from The Library to be Flynn’s Guardian, essentially his bodyguard. She’s very much the sort for logic and tactics, and is highly skeptical when introduced to the world of magic. Still, she takes her duty very seriously, even when it feels like she’s baby-sitting the L.I.Ts.
Cassandra Cillian (Lindy Booth)
Like Jacob and Ezekiel, Cassandra was invited to The Library the same day Flynn was, but didn’t show for the interview. Cassandra is a mathematical genius with a photographic memory. Which sounds awesome, except that she also has a brain tumor the size of a grape that gives her synesthesia, linking memory retrieval to all five of her senses. She frequently remembers math information as different smells, or numbers as colors. She’s plucky and good-natured, but momentarily betrays the team to the Serprent Brotherhood when they offer her a magical cure to the tumor that will one day kill her.
Jacob Stone (Christian Kane)
Jacob’s a man with two lives: he looks like your average mid-western American man working on an oil rig, but he’s actually a genius with an I.Q. of 190 and extensive knowledge of historical art and architecture. He keeps his academic life separate from his daily one, refusing to even publish under his own name. Still, even with all that intellect he’s not above throwing a few punches when it’s needed. He doesn’t trust easily, although in the case of his fellow Librarians, he made an exception. He’s still burnt up about Cassie’s betrayal.
Ezekiel’s a world-class thief and hacker. He’s cocky, snarky, and would rather run away than stand and fight. Of the recruits he’s volunteered the least information about himself, but his skills certainly make him a valued member of the team. Hack into London’s CCTV ? No problem! Forge an invitation? Sure! Although aloof, he is capable of compassion, and is much more forgiving of Cassie’s betrayal than Stone. He also provides wonderful comic relief when he puts on Santa Claus’s hat and finds himself awash in the holiday spirit. Generosity conflicts with his thief nature.
Jenkins (John Larroquette)
Jenkins is the curator of the Library Annex, a separate-yet-connected branch of the Library located in Portland, Oregon. He’s a more cantankerous equivalent of Judson from the films, providing guidance and support from the team’s base (sort of like WH13‘s Artie plus Bosley from Charlie’s Angels). He also likes to experiment with artifacts rather than simply archive them.