The Librarians: And the Final Curtain (Review)

The Librarians (and the series finale – see what we did there) was entertaining, clever and as part of the “final curtain” a fitting end to season two. There were, however, some highly annoying things about the season’s end episode

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The Librarians and the series finale  (see what we did there) was entertaining, clever and as part of the “final curtain” a fitting end to season two.  There were, however, some highly annoying things about the season’s end episode.  Granted the theme of season two was all about Shakespeare and England (cor blimey) and horrible English accents. Or at the very least extremely  watered down “Hollywood-ized” versions of the Queen’s English. The season was also about fictional characters, aka Fictionals,  inhabiting real life.

Sidenote: Back on the accent rant: When your South African actor has the “most convincing “accent? There is a problem. 

Colour this reviewer picayune, but if an entire season is going to be built up in order to have an English payoff,  do not fall back on faux/contrived accents a’la Shakespearean pentameter in the arcane sense, but with modern day phrasing and the odd word.  Take a breath, that was a long sentence…

That is not to say that the finale did not work and was not amusing.  Au contraire.  There were many funny moments that amused highly whilst gritting teeth at the atrocious accents and Oregon once again substituting for Jolly Olde England.

The Librarians utilize time travel and the episode gets to do a riff off of  the “Terminator ” verse:

“Come with me if you want to live,” says a deadpan  Moriarty.

South African actor  David S. Lee also delivers, with a perfectly straight face his,  “my British accent is better than yours.” Admittedly, it is but…There is no ” British” accent per se.  Britain is made up of a few countries, Wales, Scotland…If the Librarians traveled back to England, at the time of Bill Shakespeare, they would be speaking English, not British… (not a thing)

Sidenote: Apologies to Team Librarian and the show’s makers, but come on guys and gals.  So much of the this show is cleverly done. Do not let the side down by fluffing the English bits and using standard “Hollywood” tosh.  Surely there are enough English actors (or even Aussie/Kiwi ones who both do pretty spot on impressions) on hand to have a bit more authentic “brit” for your buck… 

Grumbling aside, Wyle is funny as the wildly overacting potential thespian and the dual storyline works extremely well.  The execution of the present day events, Ezekiel Jones and Stone counting down the “five” seconds before Flynn and Eve return was heart wrenching and touching.

There are plenty of gags about time travel and paradoxes and so on.  It is explained, by Flynn, that all time travelers have “winked” into non-existence.  Thus follows a great sight gag: Wyle’s character references the first time traveler and a picture on the library wall shows a “dinosaur” standing on two feet…in clothes.

This “gag” will crop up later in a slightly different form.  The storyline is that Flynn and Eve travel back to stop Shakespeare from creating Prospero (in his new story) while the remaining Librarians, along with Jenkins, must find any clues that Flynn “left forward.”

The two teams work simultaneously (sort of) to fix the issue  of Prospero taking over the world, despite being a fictional whose “story” does not entail his doing so. Of course the entire Shakespeare portion deals, rather transparently, with the idea that the “glove maker” from Stratford-upon-Avon could not have really written all those plays and sonnets.

In the real world, a number of suspects are trotted out to be the real “Shakespeare.” Christopher Marlowe,  Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere are just three men that historians claim to be the real author(s) of Shakespeare’s body of work.  In The Librarians and the Final Curtain, Bill writes his own words, but…With a magic quill.

(So magic in fact that this quill does not need to be dipped, or loaded, with ink.)

The quill is made from  a broken bit of the “tree of life” aka the “Staff of Life” so, unlike real quills, it is not made from a feather but a bit of wood. Such ingenuity never ceases to impress.

Historical inaccuracies aside, the entire “smelly” bit between Flynn, Baird and the two “bumpkins” in the garden was not only funny, but entirely accurate.  People in England at that time did not bathe often or well. Shakespearean performers of the time used to carry oranges (stuffed with cloves) on a stick and/or carry a perfumed handkerchief to ward off the stench of the audience.

Eve’s exclamations of dismayed disgust were hysterical:

Col Baird: “Ugh, ugh! It’s on me! His smell is on me!”

Carson Flynn rather wisely points out that “smell” is one of the things that films about time travel never mention. After explaining this, he warns Eve that there will be a lot of pus. With this last bit of helpful information, he then tells Baird to put on the clothes of the unconscious and very smelly local. Eve reacts accordingly:

“Uh, no, no, no, no, no, no. No way. Nope, nope, nope, nope. nope.”

Comedy gold aside, the show manages to bring in references to King Arthur, the round table, the lady in the lake, and the “return” of Excalibur.  Some reviewers believe that Flynn’s being able to weld Excalibur, aka Cal, means that he is Arthur…a bit of a stretch, although Jenkins is a knight…Hmmm.

There are plenty of clever uses of logic and Shakespearean references that are brought up to solve the Prospero problem. (Hint: Check out Stone’s little spiel about carnations.) Moriarty and Flynn finally show how they really feel about one another but, the evil mastermind actually helps to “save the day” somewhat before bleeding out ink and disappearing.

It should be pointed out that the reading of Shakespeare, each quote pertanent to the issue at hand, was beyond brilliant.

The Librarians finishes with a lot of cute moments, a couple of “aw” ones and seemingly a promise that Noah Wyle as Flynn will be in a lot more episodes next year.  While this can only be a good thing, after all, he and Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn) make such a great couple, hopefully this will not mean less Lindy Booth, Christian KaneJohn Harlan Kim or John Larroquette

This was an entertaining season finale and now time will drag until a new season returns fall of 2016. One plea, and this is an earnest one, please TNT and makers of The Librarians, stop using contrived “British”  accents (which are not really a thing, remember) and use real sounding English ones… This would go a long way to making Oregon stand in for any location as long as the players “sound right.”

Please.

The Librarians: And the Happily Ever After (Review)

Just when it seemed that The Librarians could not get any better, in terms of humor or the occasional lump in the throat factor, “And the Happily Ever After” manages to trump all preceding episodes. Last week when the episode ended, Jenkins had totally forgotten about the new Librarians and this episode continues that theme.

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Just when it seemed that The Librarians could not get any better, in terms of humor or the occasional lump in the throat factor, “And the Happily Ever After” manages to trump all preceding episodes. Last week when that episode ended, Jenkins had totally forgotten about the new Librarians and this episode continues that theme. Flynn, who is being chased through the woods by a legion of ninjas, starts off this week’s tale as the only character who remembers the new Librarians and their Guardian Eve.

The storyline this week has all the new Librarians  in Cicely Washington and living their own “happily ever after” lives. Prospero has rewritten their lives and given them a story which is irresistible to the three Librarians and their Guardian. Moriarty has also been moved to Cicely as something to keep Eve vested in her new tale.

Baird is the city Sheriff, Cassandra has been on the moon and helped on a rescue mission, Jones is a Special Agent for the FBI (a maverick who ruffles feathers but gets results) and Stone is a professor for the town university who teaches 11 different courses. When Flynn arrives, after getting a clipping that tells of Cicely’s missing totem, he attempts to set things right.

While Baird questions Carson, another visitor arrives in town, Ariel (played by Scottish actress Hayley McLaughlin with a splendidly underplayed Irish brogue and an admirable elfin nuance, or two). The fairy  is the only other one who realizes what is going on. Prospero has stepped in and changed everything, including ensnaring Ariel into this new story.

It turns out that the spell is fueled by the new Librarians’, and Eve’s,  secret desires. Ariel (reluctantly) agrees to help and the only way that they can stop the spell is for those affected to reject their own “happily ever after” story.

This episode focuses more on the Baird and Carson dynamic. Rebecca Romijn and Noah Wyle make a great couple with just enough quirky chemistry to make their relationship work brilliantly. It is amusing to see Flynn get bent completely out of shape each time Eve kisses Moriarty (David S. Lee).

The stories created by Prospero (Richard Cox) are all reinforced by talismans worn by each of the affected. Eve’s sheriff’s badge, Jones’ FBI ID, Cillian’s moon crystal and Stone’s bracelet, all must be placed at the foot of the totem and each must then recite their “real” story.

Moriarty is the only one who destroys his talisman away from the totem, but the result is the same, he reverts to his true self an evil doer and a “fictional.”  After the group, sans Moriarty,  leap through a door provided by Jenkins, it is revealed that Flynn has also been given a talisman and he too must relinquish it and tell his true story.

This was a whimsical episode that not only amused, but left a lump in the throat more than a few times.  The ending, of the penultimate episode of season two, speaks of the “end of the world” and it looks as though Prospero may carry over into the new season.

If any complaint could be levied against the network, although TNT are to be congratulated for having the foresight to bring the show back for a third season, it would be that 10 episodes are not enough.

For such a fun show, which can be enjoyed by the entire family, surely more episodes are in order, even an additional three or four would not hurt.  The Librarians airs Sundays on TNT, although the finale is next week, December 27, and this light-hearted, funny and magical show will be missed till it returns next year.

The Librarians and the Hollow Men (Review)

In this week’s episode of The Librarians (and the Hollow Men) the team get some assistance from the original Librarian Flynn Carson (Noah Wyle) as they attempt to track down the Eye of Zarathustra

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In this week’s episode of The Librarians (and the Hollow Men) the team get some assistance from the original Librarian Flynn Carson (Noah Wyle) as they attempt to track down the Eye of Zarathustra which is the latest artifact to disappear from the library. On top of the building’s rooms and contents moving about, things are going missing.  While Prospero is a “presence” in the episode, it is only his “minion” Professor Moriarty (South African actor David S. Lee) who interacts with the librarians. 

The entire team, including Flynn, are put to sleep, with Pan’s Pipes, another missing artifact from the facility, and the head Librarian is “kidnapped” by a mysterious “stalker-y” bearded man (played by Gotham actor Drew Powell).  Colonel Baird (Rebecca Romijn) teams up with Moriarty to save Flynn from the bearded menace.

Powell’s character turns out to be “Ray” the physical incarnation of the library. The “man” counts Flynn as his best friend and Moriarty, somewhat surprisingly, sacrifices himself to save Ray and the Library.  By the end of the episode,  the Library is reunited with Ray, Eve Baird puts some distance between her and Flynn and Moriarty has revealed a surprising depth of character.

The new librarians have to take a back seat in the story as the episode deals with the increasing “attraction” between Moriarty and Baird and on Wyle’s return as Flynn.  Drew Powell proves that he has a deft touch when it comes to acting outside his Butch Gilzean comfort zone.  This actor is a delight to watch as the pathos filled character who turns out to not be human, or a demigod or even a fictional character but a physical incarnation of the fantastical building.

John Harlan Kim, as Ezekiel Jones is becoming the constant “comic relief” and the group dynamic between the three new librarians has solidified into a great routine of give and take. Kane’s character continues to grow, as does Booth’s Cassandra.  The comedy is clear and precise and well written.

The Librarians and the Hollow Men also continues its Indiana Jones theme and the series has thus far given the character of Professor Moriarty a Hans Zimmer  tin-panny piano riff of Discombobulate from the 2009 Guy Richie Sherlock Holmes theme. These touches are clever and appreciated equally  by the film buff and fans of fantasy television a’la Dr Who.

It will be interesting to note whether Moriarty’s wooing of Baird will actually pay off for the arch villain.  Certainly the Dionysian version of Holmes attracts the female of the species almost without effort. As Eve says to Cillian:

“Cassandra, please do not fangirl over the arch villain.”
“Sorry…”

There a number of amusing moments, for instance, Jenkins warns that they are dealing with a “dangerous being” when speaking of Ray (who has kidnapped Flynn). The camera dissolves to Ray comically, and noisily, slurping a milkshake as he listen’s to his victim, Carson.

Romijn shows, once again, that she can handle the physical rigors of fighting off the baddies and Christian Kane proves that he can deliver broader strokes of the comedic brush. (His “country boy” scene is good for a giggle or two, as is his follow up with the spear.)

John Larroquette has been relegated to straight-man, which he does majestically. Face set in an eternal grimace of tired acceptance, his Jenkins carries the weight of centuries. After all, as the curator points out, he is “semi” immortal and the actor is able to portray this timelessness with his expression alone. 

The Librarians continues to almost effortlessly entertain with storylines that can be enjoyed by all. TNT and its dedication to family entertainment have opted for a show that is a delight to follow by everyone. Tune in on Sundays and catch the comedic action.

The Librarians: Episode 203 – The Family Stone (Review)

Jeff Fahey as Issac Stone in The Librarians

Episode 203 of The Librarians, titled What Lies Beneath the Stones,  is all about the “family Stone,” with Jake learning that the truth really does set you free, it also traps an ancient shape shifter.  Christian Kane owns this episode as the Oklahoma genius who has to uncover the lies “beneath the Stones.” Jeff Fahey guest stars as the Stone patriarch who Jake has hidden the truth from for years and who has lied to his son in return.

Stone, the elder, owns a drilling business and his latest project uncovers a tunnel in the ground, which at first look, appears to be a Choctaw burial chamber.  As the local tribe protest the invasion of their heritage, a released shapeshifter begins creating havoc around the drilling site.

Back at the Library, which does seem to be borrowing just a bit from the Warehouse 13 playbook, (as in something mysterious has rearranged the library and some parts are missing) two members of the team are busy. Jenkins (John Larroquette) is struggling to put everything back in its place and Colonel Baird (Rebecca Romijn) opts to help him rather than assist the three new librarians in their first “voluntary” team effort in Season two.

This episode manages to run a parallel storyline, or at the very least a two-tiered theme. Truth is important, whether dealing with a released “Hoklonote” or dealing with one’s family, as in Jake’s father or with one’s close colleagues, another sort of family.  As the released shapeshifter increases the chaos factor at the Oklahoma site,  it is not only Stone who must tell the truth, but Ezekiel (John Harlan Kim) and Cassandra (Lindy Booth) must also bare their souls. 

The team work out what the “cause and effect” solution must be in order to trap the creature and to get things back to normal. In the process, much is learned about the team. Rather oddly, it  is revealed that Cillian (Booth) has a multitude of lies, or at least “untruths” that she uses to  keep the trap open till Jake can bring the Hoklonote back.

Just as strange, and funny, is the revelation that the more “criminally minded” Jones, only really has one “lie” to hide.

Stand out moments:

Jake stripping all the lies away and removing all artifice in front of his father Issac (Jeff Fahey). The elder Stone pauses and then tells his son that he loves hims and gives him a hug. Jake, returns the hug and then tells his “dad” that his real father would never say or do that. Stone then pulls the shapeshifter into the tunnel entrance in a free fall to the bottom. 

Cassandra Cillian keeping the trap open with a long list of truths, one of which (that is never finished) sounds very disturbing, her joyous revelation starts with “And then the light went out of his eyes…” There is obviously a deepness to the tumor ridden genius as yet untapped by the writers. 

Ezekiel’s description of films as books  that are easier to read and have better pictures along with his insistence that the entire Oklahoma problem was caused by poltergeist.

Jakes assertion that a “truth” has emotional weight.

Eve Baird was trapped in the library through out the episode and this left the new replacements for Noah Wyle’s Flynn Carson up to their own devices and allowed the actors to show what splendid chemistry they have together.

What Lies Beneath the Stones, gave viewers a quick reminder of what each of the newbies had in terms of backstory. Cillian’s tumor, Jones’ thieving past, even if it was for  the Queen, and Jake’s issues with identity, confidence and blaming his father for having to lie.

Peripherally it allows Jenkins to have a little backstory, the old photo of Jenkins with a bloody nose and a most unhappy look on his face showed that the old dog had not always been in the library.

It was nice to see Jeff Fahey could take time from his  busy schedule this year to appear on the show. The actor is a regular on From Dusk to Dawn the series (Uncle Eddie) and the miniseries Texas Rising as Thomas Rusk, not to mention his short appearance in Falling Skies (another TNT series) this year as well.  The New York born actor has specialized in playing country characters, like his role as the cook in Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, and manages to effortlessly portray characters from Texas and Oklahoma.

The Librarians episode finish has Jake Stone putting his real name on a paper he is writing.  Whatever lies that were beneath the “Stones” have been laid to rest, at least from Jake’s end.  This series airs Sundays on TNT and is good family entertainment. Not a lot of gore or gratuitous bad language grace the set pieces of this show. Tune in and invite grandma and the kids.

The Librarians: And the Drowned Book – (Review) [Update]

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[Update] In the original review, it was stated that Jake Stone (Christian Kane’s character) was Texan when in fact the new librarian is from Oklahoma. This has been changed in the article.

Season two of The Librarians opens with And the Drowned Book. There is magic in the world with the reinsertion of the sword in the stone and ley lines are filled with magical powers.  Noah Wyle, Rebecca Romijn, Lindy Booth, Christian KaneJohn Larroquette and John Harlan Kim are all back as the Librarians and so is their “enabler” Jenkins (Larroquette).  TNT have brought back this great family fun show as part of their Sunday lineup and the wait has been worth it. 

Feeling like a cross between  Relic Hunter (a show that Lindy Booth was also a regular cast member of)  and Dr. Who but with slightly better FX, the show is a good natured small screen version of a new generation of antiquities hunters who all have special skills. Kane is rough and ready Oklahoman oil rigger Jake Stone, Booth is Cassandra Cillian a young woman who literally does figures in the air and Kim is Ezekiel Jones; a Jack of all trades.  Romijn is the real handler of the group, Jenkins runs the library and aids the Librarians when required.

Wyle is the Librarian, aka Flynn Carson.  The actual library feels a little like Warehouse 13 but with books and artifacts and with Jenkins as custodian.

The opening of season two’s The Librarians has renewed magic and a mysterious, and shadowy, figure summoning a character from a book. Not just any book, though. The tome is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the summoner opens the pages to the short story The Adventures of the Dancing Men.  The episode then heads to a museum where another character from a fictional tale is affecting the weather and the plot.

The cleverness of the writing in this opening episode is apparent from the first time we see the pages open to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story. In the “Dancing Men” tale  Holmes recognized the “stick figure” men as code, aka a cipher and in this episode, The Librarians And the Drowned Book the relics sought by the Librarians make up a code created by Prospero (from The Tempest).

Prospero calls Professor Moriarty from the Holmes collection of stories to help him outwit the Librarians and to escape into the world.

There are a number of nods and winks to other works. In a scene with Moriarty (played by South African actor David S. Lee) Flynn Carson (Wyle) tells the criminal mastermind, whom he believes is Sherlock Holmes, that he admires the man who solved “The Five Orange Pips.” Both “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” and “The Five Orange Pips” feature an individual who dies after hiring the great detective. 

In another “homage” moment, Carson and Eve Baird (Romijn) go to  collect an artifact and Flynn tells Eve that things will be all right if the villagers do not know they are there.  A short beat later sees the two running from a group of angry people with Flynn shouting to the effect that they knew. The framing of the shot is very reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark opening sequence where he is being chased by natives.

The allusion to the Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford franchise is all too apparent in the overall make up of The Librarians.  Wyle can be seen as a sort of small screen Indy substitute. Both men, Jones and Carson,  are well educated and each searches for historical artifacts personally. These two are not researchers who pass their findings on, they are adventurers.

In the TNT series, Carson has recruited some helpers, in the forms of Kane, Booth and Kim. All three of the newcomers bring something to the table. Booth; a sort of spacey, yet fun, aura of genius. Kim portrays  a “criminally minded” magician who specializes in picking pockets and taking chances.

Christian Kane plays an affable and adventure seeking chap from Oklahoma who exudes a natural sense of capability and risk taking.

And the Drowned Book starts with all three of the new Librarians doing their own thing rather than working as a team.  Ultimately, through the course of the episode,  they learn that working as a group is much more effective.

There are a number of amusing moments in the show.

Kudos to Noah Wyle who, after appearing in Falling Skies as a hero type not prone to humor, gets off a few comic moments. None, however, are as good as the “I can lip read” gag.  After Moriarty reveals, to a delighted Eve, that he can read lips Flynn retorts:

“Lipreading’s not that hard. I can do it. Those two women over there… ‘Where are the snuffy pom moms?’ ‘I’ve never circled square Idaho in the blueberry cupcake.’ Nothing to it.” [Snaps fingers]

Before the end credit’s roll, Carson loses Prospero and Moriarty, Eve will not let him follow the two as they escape leaving a couple of season long villains to reappear at will.  Wyle, who solidified his character in The Librarian films has not deserted the show and he interacts with the new “kids” on a regular basis while wooing the group’s minder Eve.

The three newcomers to the verse have settled into their character’s shoes and each actor is a delight to watch. The Librarians is a series that anyone in the family can watch and enjoy. As close to a “G” rated show as one will find on nighttime television that features a bit of romance, action, magic and villainous characters that are not too bloody or violently gory.

The Librarians airs Sundays on TNT. Tune in and enjoy some entertaining storylines and the collective greatness that is Lindy Booth, Christian Kane and Noah Wyle, et al.