TNT’s The Librarians is a series based on a set of three made-for-TV movies starring Noah Wyle. The fifth episode aired this week and I think the show is finally starting to come together, sort of. I swing between loving it and being critical of it because there’s a lot of potential but not a lot of follow-through. The concept is classic science fiction, a concept most recently portrayed by a show called Warehouse 13. In essence, there are magical artifacts all over the world that could be dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands. To prevent this, there’s a Librarian who is brought on to find the artifacts and store them in the Library where they will be protected.
The movies were fantastic, in the way cheesy made-for-TV movies can be. I’ve seen the first two, and imagine the third is similar in plot and layout. Noah Wyle played Flynn Carsen, a genius with more PhDs than anyone in this world could hope for. In the movies, and in the series, he’s a silly, dorky, yet extremely capable man who always manages to save the day at the last minute. He also has a weakness for women, which seemed like a joke throughout the movies and now has been carried over to the series.
What hasn’t been carried over, though, is Flynn Carsen’s constant presence. Instead, the view has been switched from his story to the story of four unlikely heroes who were pulled into the Library’s narrative. Three are Librarians in their own right, one is a guardian, and all four of them, plus a man by the name of Jenkins, are the next wave of protection for the world. The new Librarians have to be trained to protect the world like Flynn has been for years.
I think this is probably where the huge downfall is in the show. Without Noah Wyle’s character, there isn’t really a set lead. Don’t get me wrong, The Librarians has a fantastic cast that’s doing a phenomenal job. However, I think without Flynn leading the charge, there’s a little bit of disarray. The closest person to a lead is the character Eve Baird, who is the guardian, and even her character fails to give the show the direction I think it misses without Noah Wyle at the helm. There’s something about the character of Flynn Carsen that brings a different depth to the show and I certainly have enjoyed the episodes with him more than the episodes without him.
The other problem I see is the fact the main cast gets overshadowed by fantastic, veteran actors who have taken up supporting roles. John Larroquette definitely deserves a mention for his role as the misanthropic Jenkins, especially after his performance in this week’s episode. He brings a dry, reluctant humor to the show that definitely helps to balance out the acting team. Along with Larroquette, Matt Frewer playing Dulaque, the infamous leader of the Serpent Brotherhood, has managed to somehow steal the spotlight away from the main team. There’s something about the command of his character that encompasses the room and leaves me more intrigued by him than by the team.
I think most of this can be explained in the way the team was thrown together and suddenly clicked. There were minor conflicts, but as a whole the three new Librarians and the guardian all became fast friends. It seemed too fast and too good to be true. Of course, Eve and Flynn getting together after the opening episodes was hardly surprising given Flynn’s history in the movies. However, everyone else’s sudden connections seemed, well, sudden. Within the span of a few episodes, Christian Kane’s character, Jake Stone, suddenly understands how to focus the scattered mind of Cassandra (Lindy Booth). Eve Baird began to rapidly accept the Library and the Librarians when she seemed like she would be the most reluctant.
All of the characters made such a quick leap in development that I think it took away from the show. What makes Larroquette and Frewer’s performances fantastic is the simple fact that they bring conflict. They don’t just click with everyone. Larroquette especially, as part of the team, remains a holdout even after he begins to see the value in having multiple Librarians. He’s probably the only one on the team acting like an actual person whose life has been disturbed.
Everyone else just grabbed hold of the Library and everything it stood for virtually without question. Their unabashed willingness to jump into this crazy journey takes away from their struggles when they do have them because they didn’t struggle to get to acceptance. They accepted, and now all of their struggles pale in comparison because the goal had already been met: they’re already a team. They’re already happy with what they’re doing.
I think ultimately I would have liked to see a lot more struggle from the main team. It would definitely bring the focus back onto them instead of it being stolen away by veterans like Larroquette and Frewer.
Even with my criticisms, The Librarians really is a cute show. It is a nice break from the dramas I’m typically drawn to and it is well acted. With names like Rebecca Romijn and Christian Kane, I expected nothing less. They have slipped into their characters perfectly; I just wish there were more conflicts between the characters. However, it is still a young series and conflict may still come. As it stands, I’ll keep watching The Librarians simply for the fact that it is quaint and easy to follow. In that way it pays homage to the movies which were equally light and easy.
I just want to know what I have to do to get Noah Wyle to show up more consistently because I absolutely adore Flynn Carsen.