Sunday 14 February 2016


Directors: Dean Devlin, Marc Roskin, Jonathan Frakes, John Harrison, Tawnia Mckiernanby Peter Askin, Starring: Rebecca Romijn, Christian Kane, John Kim, Lindy Booth, John Larroquetten. Fantasy TV series, US, 2014, 420mins, Cert 12.

Following on from three original ‘LIBRARIAN’ TV-movies featuring Noah Wyle as Flynn Carsen ‘The Librarian’ (singular), the premise was then expanded to introduce 3 new ‘Librarians’ and their ‘Guardian’ as they try to protect the world from magical artefacts too dangerous to be left in the outside world. 

Based underneath the Metropolitan Library, a bibliographic depository with TARDIS-like properties holds a vast collection of magical treasures. Helping the new ‘Librarians’ in their quests is the delightfully grouchy Jenkins (John Larroquette) the Library’s caretaker/butler. Whilst the original Librarian Carsen mainly takes a backseat, the new Librarians consist of Jacob (Christian Kane), an art history/architecture expert masquerading as an Oklahoma manual labourer, Cassandra (Lindy Booth) a mathematician who has sensory hallucinations caused by a brain tumour, and Ezekiel, a professional thief. Tasked with protecting the Librarians is Colonel Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn), formerly a counter-terrorism agent for NATO.

Whilst the magical artefacts gathering and neutralising premise sounds a lot like WAREHOUSE 13, accusations that THE LIBRARIANS plagiarised that show are unjust because the original LIBRARIAN movies which outlined the basic premise pre-date WAREHOUSE 13 (case dismissed!)
The series derives a great deal of fun from spinning riffs on well-known legends such as King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone whilst the bad guys are headed up by ‘Max Headroom’ himself, Matt Frewer, as Dulaque, the leader of the Serpent Brotherhood (boo- hiss). 

The individual episodes in season one are forsooth in truth a bit hit and miss. Some suffer pacing issues and feel overly padded out, but when the series finds it stride, it breezes along with its pleasantly entertaining tongue-in-cheek yarns. Two of my favourite episodes were directed by Jonathan (STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION) Frakes. Episode 4: “...And Santa's Midnight Run" features that scourge of the ‘Deadites’ Bruce Campbell as Santa himself. And episode 6: “...And the Fables of Doom” which also features another former STAR TREK alumni RenĂ© Auberjonois from DEEP SPACE NINE as a small-town librarian. Reading from an ancient magical storybook the townsfolk, and indeed the ‘Librarians’ (apart from Ezekiel) are slowly taken over by classic fairy tales and start to take on the personas of fairy tale characters. (A possible inspiration for ONCE UPON A TIME perhaps?) And Rob Zombie’s rebooted ‘Michael Myers’ Tyler Mane swaps his Halloween mask for that of a Minotaur who stalks the cast through a labyrinth in the third episode: “...And the Horns of a Dilemma.”  

So why only the 3-star review then? Well, the main flaw for me was that I found I just couldn’t seem to really fully engage with any of the characters (except for John Larroquette’s Jenkins who for me steals every scene he appears in). In particular, John Kim’s lock-picking ‘Ezekiel Jones’ has no back story whatsoever and is a one-note character I struggled (and failed) to warm to. Although the cast clearly all put in a considerable shift in their respective roles, they just seemed to lack the necessary ingredients to carry me along with them. (I felt more sympathy for the anthropomorphic sword ‘Excalibur’ if truth be told)
This was probably the main reason I didn’t bother with season two when it eventual re-surfaced on the Syfy channel.

But in fairness, as a light piece of undemanding escapism that you can watch whilst having your dinner, you could do a lot worse. So perhaps THE LIBRARIANS doesn’t quite deserve to be shelved just yet.

Footnote, (or bookmark), the screener discs led me quite the merry little dance. Not only were there no menus, but I discovered the episodes weren’t in chronological order but rather scattered randomly across the 4 discs. (Hopefully this won’t be a ‘feature’ on retail copies).
***(OUT OF 5) 
Paul Worts

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