I have a lifelong fondness for cheap made-for-TV movies. My sister and I used to have a semi-regular habit of watching Disney Channel’s weekly original movies, and laughing at their ridiculousness. As we grew up our interests in these movies diverged. She loves the Syfy original horror movies with their sub-par special effects and suspiciously good looking lady scientists. I am a fan of the Lifetime Christmas movies and how I can come in at the beginning and figure out the entire plot within the first ten minutes. They’re like video comfort food.
The biggest problem any of these movies could have is that they are boring. Most of them only legitimately have a half hour of plot and must stretch it out to an hour and a half. This brings me to The Librarian.
The Librarian is a very simple concept. What if Indiana Jones were a nerd?
A young scholar is made the caretaker of a mystical library that houses all knowledge and magic in the world. He is teamed with a Guardian, a woman bodyguard who he obviously falls in love with, and tracks down the Spear of Destiny to save the world.
The TNT movie was successful enough to spawn two sequels.
The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines was the second. It existed, but as I write this I honestly can’t remember a single aspect of the plot.
The final Librarian movie was Curse of the Judas Chalice. Bad guys get their hands on a chalice that makes vampires and Flynn, the Librarian, goes on a vacation to New Orleans. That’s all the plot I can remember because I have tried to watch it at least three times, and every time I either fall asleep or get so bored that I choose not to finish. Like I said, the worst thing any of these movies could be was boring, and Curse of the Judas Chalice raised the bar for tedium in made-for-TV movies. Even watching as much as I have, it’s obvious why this was the end of the series.
Which is why I was so surprised when TNT announced plans to make a TV series based of the trilogy.
In the Librarians, a new Guardian is brought to the library along with a new batch of Librarians sent to aid Noah Whyle’s character from the movies. Every week they take on a world threatening object or event in a series that works like a weekly TV movie (bad effects and all) but with none of the plot stretching problems. They don’t have time to mess around and we are all thankful for it.
Headliners include Rebecca Romijn, otherwise known as Mystique. Christian Kane, from Leverage and Angel and apparently a Lazarus Pit because that guy hasn’t aged in at least a decade. Lindy Booth who has been all over the place, although you may recognize her as Night Bitch from Kick-Ass 2. John Harlan Kim who has only two other acting credits. Neighbours and The Pacific. Lastly, John Larroquette AKA Rowan Montgomery from Chuck!
Not every episode is perfect, but they all have their moments and they all come together as pieces to a grand puzzle by the first season finale.
I compare it the most to Doctor Who, early in the 2005 revival when it was more campy, just with magic replacing science. They work out of a building that is bigger on the inside and can take them anywhere. They fight myths and monsters instead of legends and aliens. Most importantly, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, or really any amount of seriously, and is a whole lot of fun.
We are now two episode into season two, and the new big bad is a wonderfully Shakespearean villain. Which is to say he’s Prospero, from the Tempest, literally created by Shakespeare. That’s right they’re fighting fictional characters! Prospero, Moriarty, The Queen of Hearts, and Frankenstein in only two episodes!
The best part is that the hashtag on the screen throughout the premiere was #BecauseMagic. It’s not about why something is possible, it’s about what happens when it is. If you want a fun and entertaining series, The Librarians more than makes up for the downward spiral their movies became.
P.S. Bruce Cambell is also Santa Claus in the Christmas episode. Excuse me while I drop the mic.