RogerBW's Blog

The Librarians, series 1 28 February 2015

2014-2015; the Library is where all the magical artefacts in the world are stored to keep them (and the world) safe. After three TV movies, the story has been resurrected as a weekly series.

The setup immediately invites comparison with Warehouse 13, though in fact the TVMs that started this franchise started five years before Warehouse 13 began. Still, it'll be in the minds of the audience, and from a fairly common starting point the series goes to some trouble to distinguish itself from the earlier competition (not least because the Library itself is put out of play in the pilot, so digging through the archives for a plot-resolving MacGuffin isn't an option). The stories here are not so much artefact-of-the-week as problem/myth-of-the-week, sometimes with the recurring villain, but often not.

The core characters, as one would expect from John Rogers, form a five-man band: Eve the soldier, Jacob the roughneck art genius, Cassandra the mathematical savant, Ezekiel the cocky thief/techie, and Jenkins the loremaster. Jacob, being played by the excellent Christian Kane, inevitably steals the show in spite of a fairly underwritten character so far, but perhaps the boldest characterisation choice is Ezekiel, who's actively and deliberately annoying as well as being useful. Cassandra falls a little too easily into the television and film stereotype of "good at thinky stuff / terrible at everything else including normal life and/or broken in some way", Jenkins would be tedious if he weren't played by John Larroquette, and Eve (Rebecca Romijn) is a combination of the everyman to whom things need to be explained and the moral- and reality-anchor of the team.

Other characters recur: Flynn, the "official" Librarian from the TVMs, is still around, but largely away doing other things. (Which is a good thing, because Noah Wyle plays him with a youthful charm that he can't really carry off any more ten years after the TVMs began; there's a hint of Tom Baker's Doctor Who about his characterisation, but he's no Tom Baker.) Matt Frewer brings the full Matt Frewer as Dulaque, turning what might have been a generic scheming villain into a real person with a sense of humour.

Budget is sometimes obviously tight. The Library itself gets sealed away in a pocket dimension, so there's a one-room core set rather than a vast space to play in. There's quite a bit of location shooting, some obvious studio work, and moderate use of special effects.

The opening two-parter is probably the weakest story here (I'm told it's closest to the TVMs, which I haven't yet seen). It's setup for the core theme: that magic is being released back into the world, so all sorts of ancient and dormant threats are now suddenly more likely to be a problem. This does a good job of answering the usual question in a plot of this sort: how did all this weird stuff stay hidden until now? The answer is that it mostly wasn't there to be stumbled over.

For me the best stories were three in the middle of the season: "And the Fables of Doom" not only sees fairy tales coming to life but characters being moulded into standard fairy-tale roles; it's good for a laugh as butt-kicker Eve becomes the fluffy princess, but it's a surprisingly effective way of bringing out everyone's core characters. "And the Rule of Three" is set at a school science fair, and deals with the effects of the resurgence of magic when it isn't being used by megalomaniacs to try to take over the world. "And the Heart of Darkness" is a fresh take on the Old Scary House format. The big arc episodes were less impressive for me, possibly because the build-up material was either kept to those arc episodes or obviously glued onto the side of other people's scripts, rather than running quietly in the background.

Like many things I enjoy, this is an old format done well rather than something ground-breaking and experimental. Kane and Romijn are the stand-outs among the cast. Television viewing figures have been moderate: not as good as The Last Ship, but better than the other new TNT scripted shows of 2014 (Murder in the First and Legends), and the series has been renewed for a ten-episode second season.

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  1. Posted by Mary E. Brewer at 04:58pm on 28 February 2015

    Love #TheLibrarians with #ChristianKane.. I too believe he just rocks his character #Stone! Looking forward to Season 2.. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Posted by Kim at 07:18pm on 28 February 2015

    The Librarians with #ChristianKane is the best show my family has seen in a long time. Season 2 will be amazing, I can't wait and really want it to start now.

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 12:14am on 01 March 2015

    Blog owner note: All right, two is enough. Any more substantially similar comments, particularly including hashtags and from addresses never previously used to comment here, will not appear.

  4. Posted by tori at 11:13am on 01 March 2015

    Hi there,

    Sorry, looks like you got linked via Kane's Promote site. They can be a little zealous in trying to promote him, and I'm not sure they stopped to check this was a personal blog, not a commercial site. I've asked people to not spam you any further.

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 11:17am on 01 March 2015

    No worries, glad to see other people like the show.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

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