TV Review: ‘The Librarians’

"The Librarians" TV Review on TNT

Although TNT has discussed exploring edgier fare, its decision to elevate “The Librarian” movies, which starred Noah Wyle, into a series in which he’ll occasionally appear represents a throwback to the network’s broad popcorn-oriented approach. Indeed, the two-hour launch – assembling a trio of “librarians” (hence the plural title) tasked with thwarting magical threats, with Rebecca Romijn as their guardian – could have been spawned in the ’80s or ’90s, back when “Indiana Jones” knockoffs were all the rage. That’s not to say “Librarians” isn’t sporadically fun, but there’s just not a particularly strong incentive to check it out.

For those who missed the movies, Wyle (who doubles as an exec producer, and also stars in TNT’s “Falling Skies”) plays Flynn Carsen, drafted – initially to his understandable shock – to safeguard mystical treasures, a sacred trust operating in secret beneath the Metropolitan Public Library, thus explaining his rather mundane superhero moniker.

The premiere brings Flynn back, but also quickly introduces Romijn’s Col. Eve Baird, a NATO counterterrorism officer who meets him in a frenetic opening sequence, which illustrates his mastery of mumbo-jumbo and her skills at kicking butt.

Soon, she’s whisked off to the library, encountering his starched overseer (Jane Curtin) and deceased mentor (Bob Newhart), who hangs around in spectral form, a sort-of magic mirror with a droll delivery.

Faster than you can say “Sleepy Hollow,” Flynn is on the hunt for fantastic objects (the hours are subtitled “The Crown of King Arthur” and “The Sword in the Stone”), in competition with something called the Serpent Brotherhood. When Flynn says, “We don’t have a lot of time,” he’s not kidding.

That’s because Flynn must also cultivate three candidates to assume the mantel from him: A brawling cowboy type with a genius IQ (Christian Kane), a high-tech thief (John Kim), and a woman with a photographic memory (Lindy Booth) who processes and spits out data even faster than Flynn can.

Developed by John Rogers and directed by Dean Devlin, they’re a fairly pedestrian bunch, although perhaps overshadowed in part by Wyle’s presence. It doesn’t give much away to say that while he’ll be around, the baton is passed, raising questions about the franchise’s appeal without having him front and center.

Romijn will shoulder a good deal of the load – the guardian, we’re told, provides “the brawn to the librarian’s brain” – and John Larroquette is an always-welcome addition as the caretaker reluctantly charged with helping to guide them.

Some viewers will no doubt find the concept’s familiarity comforting, and the show moves fast enough – throwing out a lot of last-minute saves and campy villains, with Matt Frewer portraying the lead heavy – to keep the proceedings playful, even with the world hanging in the balance.

Even so, with all the quality dramas vying for DVR shelf space, “The Librarians” can clearly be catalogued as an elective. And while the movies were successful, it’s hard to say spinning off a series based on such lightweight material was in any way overdue.

TV Review: 'The Librarians'

(Series; TNT, Sun. Dec. 7, 8 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Oregon by Kung Fu Monkey Prods. and Electric Entertainment.

Crew

Executive producers, Dean Devlin, John Rogers, Noah Wyle, Marc Roskin; co-executive producers, Rachel Olschan-Wilson, Paul Guyot; director, Dean Devlin; writer, Rogers; camera, David Connell; production designer, Randal Groves; editor, Sonny Baskin; music, Joseph LoDuca; casting, Barbara Stordahl, Angela A. Terry. 120 MIN.

Cast

Rebecca Romijn, Christian Kane, Lindy Booth, John Kim, John Larroquette, Noah Wyle, Jane Curtin, Bob Newhart

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 78

Leave a Reply

78 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Michael Weisser says:

    I give The Librarians a 3 out of 5. I’ll watch it and its alright, but if something better is on I’ll change the station. One thing TNT could really do is only play 1 Supernatural here and there or get rid of it all together which I wouldn’t mind. Its really agravating to have that on all morning and all day sometimes.

  2. doobads says:

    Wrong. best new show on TV.

  3. Wanda Cocke says:

    Please bring back Noah Wyle, Jane Curtain and Bob Newhart. John KIm brings nothing to this show. Half the time you can’t understand what he is saying and he just can’t act.

  4. C Batt says:

    Loved all of them, hope they bring us more!!!

  5. Gayle says:

    i loved it and can’t wait for more. its just plain old fun and they need a chance to really make it shine after getting to know the characters!

  6. Aileen says:

    I like it…every new series takes at least one season to figure out its direction and develop their characters. I loved the movies and at times they were a little weak too. It is a combination of Indiana Jones and Warehouse 13. Give them another season before you make hasty deductions. Keep going Librarians can’t wait to see what you do next! Liking the characters so far especially Rebecca and Christian (loved him in Leverage) John Laroquette is always entertaining.

  7. Sydney Butler says:

    I am very disappointed with this TV series. I truly enjoyed the movies but without Noah playing the central role the show will not suceed. The story lines are extremely weak and I feel the only way to make this a hit is to bring back the library itself and Noah Wylie as the main character. I do like Christian Kane and John Larroquette but the others just don’t work..

    • leslie miller says:

      I know Bob Newhart is gone, but he’s not forgotten. Please go back to the original premise with one main character and less “see what we can do” special effects. Story line, story line, story line.

  8. steve says:

    I enjoyed the films, so when I was told about the TV series, I thought wow.
    After watching about an hour, I turned it off.
    The poor acting alone was enough to bore me.
    It may get better as some shows do, but for now, I will rate this series 3/10. Disappointing.

  9. zyggie says:

    Well, Don’t think I’ll watch any longer. I really like this in the beginning and the ones with Mrs. Curtain, Mr. Newhart and Mr. Wyle started off slow but the movies did peak my interest. Now the TV show…I’ve tried watching and just can not get into it anymore.

  10. Hinda Joy Hinden says:

    Took a wonderful, entertaining show as in The Librarian with Noah Wyle, Jane Curtain, Bob Newhart, etc….and turned it into a loser show I can’t even get through an episode. Shame. Noah…go back to original, exciting show. Bad move. Really bad move.

  11. Some Dude says:

    This show has a major lack of consistency and has a target audience of 12 year olds due to a poor lack of acting and cheesy writing.

  12. Rob says:

    It occurs to me that this show is simply a mix of other shows with really back acting and a whole lot of camp thrown in. I mean, who speaks like this in real life? I find myself compelled to watch it just to see how bad it can be.

    There are a number of shows this one borrows heavily from. There may be others, but these were immediately apparent to me:

    Going after magical artifacts with the crazy guy who mostly stays at the shop? Think “Warehouse 13”. Been there, done that.

    The thief guy, the muscle guy, and the brainiac? I don’t know whether to go with “Alphas” or “Leverage”. They even brought in Christian Kane–oh, come on now!

    I guess if you watch it strictly for entertainment value, and you have a high tolerance for campiness, it’s “okay”, but the premier really had me expecting more.

  13. omallus says:

    Not enough Noah Wyle and the acting (?) of the librarian kids has managed to get even worse. Especially the Asian kid – I mean wow? How did you get this or any acting job? And Romjin is not adding much here either. Overall poor production and just dumb partially developed story lines. Deleting from the DVR.

  14. Misty Chouinard says:

    Very disappointed that Noah Wyle isn’t in the new librarians series as much as expected.

  15. I hope that the TNT’s The Librarians will become a hit and get renewal for the second season.

  16. zyggie says:

    This show is loosing me. It started off so well. Great idea but something is going wrong, acting, action, production, I don’t know. all I know is it’s loosing me as a viewer.

  17. Wolfsoul says:

    The show its just too dumb. The idea of the it its great, but sometimes it gets so silly, i just want to turn off the computer. Acting its poor and i agree Romijn doesn´t fit to that kind of role. The second episode its really stupid, in theory, Wyle loses two of the most important people in his life because of Lindy Booth, and they don´t really pay much attention to that. Summing it all up, great idea, very poor production.

  18. LEF says:

    I was hoping this show would be new and refreshing…sadly it isn’t. I used to watch Warehouse 13 on the science fiction station…it was cancelled. This show is nothing but the same show with poor acting. I hated it when Warehouse 13 was cancelled…I don’t think I will have the same reaction when this show is cancelled.

  19. Stu Hammett says:

    I guess library bookshelf spaces can be rented out cheap in the ‘net age, along with countless useless volumes available cheap for prop books. The set dressers for this droll-at-times show should be a bit more careful how they use these resources, however.

    Am I the only one who noticed that in two different scenes (one with Wyle and Romijn, the other I forget who) among the stacks, the book prominently visible front & center is a single volume of the West Virginia Code? Just one, which would ordinarily be shelved with a large set covering all WV laws with annotations. It’s as if they thought nobody would notice – maybe they were right.

    Pretty funny, though!

  20. RJT says:

    1. Pilot not logical at times.
    2. Set production quality was poor – particularly in comparison to original 3 movies.
    3. Changing site of library from Philadelphia to NYC and then to …drum roll.. Oregon is horrendous —
    4. I hated when they did that to Leverage. That program made even less sense after that happened.
    I thoroughly dislike programs trying to make Oregon be something it’s not. And I don’t like Oregon as a background place to film. I will not be watching this program. Although if the production quality had been maintained and had kept program backgrounded in Philly – I probably would have tried to tune in.

  21. Bancheis says:

    Can we be honest here? Rebecca Romijn does not bring anything to the table for this show other than her name. Her fighting is terrible, and looks extremely clunky. Without a stunt double to do all the dexterous action scenes in makeup so no one recognizes her, I believe she will need to do some proper training to sell the role. Maybe it is the choreographer that ruined it for me, but I just don’t think she fits the role of “the combat-tested veteran of NATO counter-terrorism operations”. They needed a female actress that, quite frankly, doesn’t punch like a girl. Other than her, I liked the casting choices for all of the other characters.

    The writing seemed a bit shallow. Sometimes it was cliche, and sometimes it was too silly, but I do see promise. I like the Warehouse-esque feel to the storyline. Add in some history and mythology, and it fits nicely. As long as they can keep the cheese to a minimum, or at least in check, it could do fairly well. Don’t worry about Excalibur, those who commented about it. If you know the mythos/history of the sword, you know what will happen.

    I want to love this show, and it certainly got its hooks in me. I will be watching, and hope to see some improvement in the weak aspects pointed out above.

  22. Apprehensive says:

    Do I like the show? Yes. Why? Tongue and cheek. Do I think the show will be a hit? No. Why? This show does not take itself seriously enough. Also, I realize a pilot only has a limited time to cover a storyline, but the pace was too fast. The storyline went from a summons, to a mystery, to an ambush, to the double cross, to instant forgiveness and finally a death in less than 90 minutes. A new TV Series that audiences prefer today would take 4-5 episodes to get half that far.

    I see references to other shows in the comments. Buffy was a good show but ran past its course and thus ran out of relevant material. Warehouse 13 waited far too long to take itself seriously. So, by the time a compelling storyline reached its peak, viewers had already stopped watching. Leverage was a good show because it had goals with an end game for each season in the beginning, but eventually steered away and lost footing. The new show Constantine will probably be cancelled for flip flopping between being overly serious and absolutely ridiculous in the same scene.

    Family entertainment is fine. But, I’m all grown up now and not really interested in reliving my grade school days. Although, I do agree there is far too much adult sarcasm that leaks through in todays comedies, which aren’t really comedies. My prediction is that this show, as it is now without a compass (based only on the two part pilot), will not stay on an evening time frame. It will be pushed to a Friday or Saturday time slot.

    Overall, I wish you guys the best of luck. I know you have the talent. I’d like to see a 5 year run on this one.

  23. jgaz says:

    Had no idea as to what this series was about and was not aware of the existence of the movies that precede it till I read about them in this article and the coments below. I watched both chapters and I found them acceptably entertaining if a bit lightweight in terms of logic or plot. It reminded me of those cheesy, funny sci-fi shows I used to watch in the 90s, like “my secret identity”. Not sure this is really a prime-time show, if it goes on against a more established, better funded show its bound to suffer. I loved Buffy, but do not think this show is in the same league in terms of writing, dialogue or plotting.
    I will give it a few more chapters and hopefully it will settle down.

  24. josh says:

    It’s a show that was designed strictly with kids in mind. Nothing wrong about except for the fact that I am no longer a kid and so I found it silly and totally unwatchable. If you are 15 or older it’s probably not for you! Still for young kids it’s probably a blast!

  25. Paully says:

    I’m a Librarian, it’s flattering and true to life. An accurate portrayal.

  26. I really disagree with your review. this is a delightful series in the way that Buffy the Vampire Slayer entertained. Perhaps you weren’t a Buffy fan either? there was even an homage to Buffy in Flynn’s explanation of what he does: “I save the world a lot.” Additionally, you have a smart if flawed female character and a strong female character, both of whom should be attractive to a younger female demographic. I’d say we give the show a chance to develop and to develop an audience. I far preferred this to its nearest similar show, Scorpio” because the female characters are given dimension.

  27. M.B. Johns says:

    I lost most of my interest in this new series when I learned that Noah Wyle will not be a regular. No doubt the writers were very creative in how magic was released back into the world but unfortunately not creative enough to save Excalibur. That sword was one of my three favorite things about the movies and its loss killed any magic this series had or ever will have as far as I’m concerned. I don’t plan on watching.

  28. joann says:

    I can’t believe it but love the fact that they made this into a series. Noah is great in this role. And as for the the other characters in the show they are good fit for the show. Now TNT don’t mess up a good thing you did that with Dallas.

  29. Lily says:

    The preview of the Librian was outstanding. Who is that hot guy with the AK at the beginning of the show?

  30. howie says:

    its a cheap cheesy Warehouse 13 and it doesnt work. i watched with a hopefull open mind and it sucked!!!

    • sww says:

      you are correct, its utter crap. its just like warehouse 13,but with less story,overly paced,& stupid, for half witted people ONLY

  31. steve says:

    alright i missed the second half when is it going to be available on TNT web

  32. shelby says:

    Dr Who rip off

  33. Jerry says:

    Loved it. It is good to see family entertainment that every one can watch. Yes it is a new style of Librarian, but overall it is true to the form of the original. Will be sure to watch more. Hope it continues for a while.

  34. zyggie says:

    OK watched the show last night. I like the plot but got a bit tired of Wyle turning into Dr. Who with a cross between Raiders Indy Jones. Hope it gets better. I like all the actors and Kane I remember from the Angel and Buffy days. So now the Library is lost, well let the adventures begin. All in all it was entertaining.

  35. Mari says:

    Have it recorded and looking forward to watching. Enjoyed the 3 previous movies. Sounds a lot like warehouse 13 that we watched on syfy. Not everything has to be hardhitting drama. After all, it is entertainment.

  36. The dialogue moves so quickly that one often cannot hear the absurdities involved. Venus, apparently, moves like a star and not a planet, etc. etc. The Tower of London set (and too many props) was visibly cheap in construction. The show concentrates on sparkly SFX instead of characterization, and the plots rely on multiple dii ex machinis, which is the cheapest, cheating-est device for a writer to use. Despite Christian Kane’s presence (he seemed to be the only one trying to do something solid with what he’d been given), I won’t be watching more.

  37. H says:

    The Librarians is a fun quirky historical/ action adventure series. A new look at not just getting the treasure, but using the talents one possesses to learn and embrace the potential in the use of technology and old school library research. TNT its a hit! Love the balance of learning/knowledge with action/adventure!

  38. Berry says:

    I have been looking forward to this show for some time. I was not at all disappointed. It may take a few shows to hit its stride but it has all the ingredients needed to make this a fun & adventurous ride for the audience. can’t wait for next week.

  39. Linda says:

    Enjoyed more than reality shows. Love Kane.

  40. Karon says:

    Personally, I will be glad to watch The Librarians, I watched all of the movies and they were nice change from the “edgy and quality” dramas that you seem to think everyone wants. Television is not a one show fits all. I need something fun to watch with the sad state of affairs that this world is in. For the ones that say it’s not good cinema, don’t take yourself so seriously, these shows are suppose to be tongue in cheek, fun and no worry about blood, guts, nudity and foul language, AND the good guys win. I say bring on The Librarians!

  41. Carroll Armstrong says:

    I love the movies and have watched them when ever they came on. I will be watching the new series. I hope that they will be given a chance.

  42. Mark Holmberg says:

    They would have to ruin the show by casting that Idiot John Larroquette.

  43. c nibar says:

    My aunt and I love the Librarian and we can’t wait to see the series with or without Noah Wyle. It’s gonna be fun, entertaining and a GREAT change from the crappy reality shows they think we want to watch!

  44. Mari says:

    Am I in a parallel universe or something? I remember turning on the tv a few years ago looking for something to watch with my dad and my little brothers. There was a marathon of the movies and it seemed family friendly enough. Well. It was family friendly and we enjoyed watching it- because it was so ridiculously horrible. The entire movies were plagued with bad CG (which is understandable with a made-for-tv budget), bad acting, and even worse writing. Or maybe it was the writing that made the acting bad, Noah Wyle is a solid actor but his delivery in those movies were BAD. We were dying of laughter for the duration of the three movies because the plot was so ridiculous and they are some of the worst indiana jones knockoffs I have ever seen. I cannot stress enough how horrible these movies were.

    Now, the TV series looks a little more credible and less cheap with better writing, and it can’t be too bad of a project with Rebecca Romijn attached to it. But seriously. Those movies are terrible. They may be family friendly but anyone who watches them believing that it’s good cinema might be in danger of losing brain cells.

  45. zyggie says:

    Sounds interesting. I’ve watched the other Librarian movies withe Wyle and they were entertaining. Looking forward to this show. Now, if we can remove the housewives, bachelor, etc. type shows.

  46. Jo-Ann Mersch says:

    Sounds like fun, family fare to me…Rogers, Devlin and Kane together again tell the whole story…quality people putting out quality entertainment…Kane’s ‘Kaniac’ followers will be there and should push viewer numbers off the chart…I don’t know how this show can fail…so many viewers have been waiting for Christian Kane to return to weekly TV…welcome back, Christian…we are excited to take this journey with you!

  47. denise says:

    i can’t wait for the librarians premier. i loved the movies and i thnk the series wii be terrific

  48. Daiza F. says:

    I think you’ve underestimated Dean Devlin and John Rogers! They created something very amazing with “Leverage” and they have brought together an amazing cast and crew for “The Librarians”. I have been looking forward to this show airing ever since I heard they were shooting the series and am so very excited to see Christian Kane back on the screen on a regular basis. I’ll be there every week with bells on!!! #ChristianKane

  49. Interesting that your take is that there’s “not a particularly strong incentive to check it out.” Talk of #TheLibrarians has been hot in my circle for months. We’re looking forward to a fun, action-packed series that we can kick back and enjoy after a long week that’s been full of the stresses of a sluggish economy that seems to be passing us by in spite of our best efforts. We’re looking forward to a series that is safe for all members of our families, allowing some much needed family time. And we’re looking forward to a series where we can rest assured that the good guys are always going to win – at least in The Librarians’ world – even as we root for them. Sometimes a good fantasy is what we need most. Well, a good fantasy and #ChristianKane. ;)

  50. I’m really looking forward to the debut of #theLibrarians with #ChristianKane. I’ve been waiting for another project with #ChristianKane working together again with #DeanDevlin & #JohnRogers.

More TV News from Variety

Loading