Magical artifacts, ninjas in Oklahoma, and a blow torch made of prosciutto and a cucumber… it must be “The Librarians,” TNT’s new adventure-fantasy series, a follow-up to the network’s “Librarian” movie trilogy, which first bowed a decade ago.
The new series serves as a continuation of the movies, with Noah Wyle reprising his role as Flynn Carsen, the titular Librarian responsible for finding and protecting objects of mythical importance. For Wyle, continuing the fun and adventure of the movies is a dream come true, though admittedly one that came with some trepidation.
“I was really nervous to do it,” Wyle says of stepping back into the role nearly seven years after the final movie. “Then, I put on this costume, and the first scene we shot was the first scene that Flynn appears in in the show — which is when he falls out of a wall — and as soon as I did that pratfall and jumped up, it was like, ‘Oh, I love this guy! I missed this guy!’”
Wyle noted that in the time that has passed since the last movie, his character seems to have matured “enough to make him different and interesting. I remembered enough of what made him charming and endearing, but found new ways of making him a bit more eccentric and more theatrical.
“I just went to work and chewed the scenery apart, and had a ball,” he adds wryly.
“I never wanted to get out of the ‘Librarian’ business,” he says, reminiscing about the fun of creating three movies that combined adventure and magic with fast jokes and just a bit of suspense. After rights for the “Librarian” franchise reverted back to David Titcher, the original writer of the story, Flynn Carsen’s adventures were put on hold, until John Rogers hatched the idea of a series.
While exciting, plans for “The Librarians” series were complicated by Wyle’s schedule; the thesp is currently wrapping up his run on TNT’s alien drama “Falling Skies.” “I didn’t want to go from shooting ‘Falling Skies’ right into being a regular on another show,” he says. “But I wasn’t sure that I wanted to stop making [‘The Librarian’] because I really enjoyed it.”
The solution? Pass the torch.
When “The Librarians” bows on Sunday night, viewers will find Flynn in the middle of a crisis when the villainous Serpent Brotherhood starts killing Librarian candidates, and forces Judson and Charlene (Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin, reprising their movie roles) to take drastic measures to save the Library. He is forced to accept the help of his new guardian, Col. Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn), a NATO counterterrorism expert, to find the Librarians-to-be and protect them from impending danger.
By bringing in a new team, the world set up by the movies can continue while affording Wyle, and his character, the opportunity to come and go with relative ease. The plan also allows for Wyle to be more involved behind the scenes on “Librarians,” where he serves as an executive producer and would one day like to direct. “I like the conceit that if we cast these four parts appropriately and have good missions to go on, this could be really fun week in and week out,” he said.
Wyle will pop in and out of the series’ first run, after Flynn leaves the new Librarians, played by Lindy Booth, Christian Kane and John Kim, in the hands of Baird and caretaker Jenkins (John Larroquette) as he goes off on a new mission. The fresh faces will carry the brunt of the narrative, with Flynn returning in episodes seven and 10 (the finale), according to Wyle.
“At first there’s a sense that he doesn’t want any help. Being the Librarian has taken a toll on his psyche, and he’s gone around the bend a little bit. But then he grows into really enjoying having a team and people he can share this world with. It’s a wonderful ensemble without the character of Flynn — it’s an even better one when you add him in,” he says, praising the new cast for bringing new life to the “Librarian” story.
Romijn adds that her character, tasked with protecting the Librarians, is “definitely the skeptic of the group, and she gets to be the voice of the audience. But as an investigator, and someone who took an oath to protect humanity, she understands she’s needed.”
The new Librarians take on a learning curve similar to Flynn’s in the first movie, Wyle says. “At first, it’s all wonderful and overwhelming — the sense of ‘oh my god, there’s magic in the world’ — and then it becomes incredibly terrifying when they realize they have to battle evil each and every week.”
“The movies laid groundwork for this world of magic where almost anything can happen,” Romijin says. “We get to save the world in almost every episode.” The actress adds that she was excited to join the franchise, and the action-adventure genre, “without realizing how hilarious and absurd” the show can be. The comedic tone, she says, “was icing on the cake.”
While the show is first a series of episodic stories, Wyle shares that John Rogers, writer for the series, has found a way of “weaving each individual episode’s mission into a larger tapestry that pays off in the finale,” combining the thrill of magic with the danger of protecting the world from it — and the Serpent Brotherhood — at the same time.
“The thing I like best about [‘The Librarians’] is that it just sort of fills a void that exists in TV,” says Wyle. “There are shows that are adventure shows, and there are shows that are comedies, and there are relic hunter shows, but there’s not anything that quite strikes this tone of ‘Scooby-Doo’ scary — enough for a kid to be on the edge of their seat — but the jokes are really funny too and then it’s got a really good emotional impact.”
“It walks a very distinct line that makes it almost difficult to put into any type of genre,” he says.
“The Librarians” bows Sunday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. with a special two-hour premiere on TNT.