So I made it through pretty much the entirety of last night’s two hour premiere of The Librarians with a gigantic grin on my face. My cheeks hurt a little bit from it, but who cares, because that was some unapologetically wacky and fun television. TNT’s new series is about a group of Librarians – yes, that is with a capital L – who regularly save the world from powerful magic falling into the wrong hands. It is as weirdly fantastic a premise in practice as it sounds on paper.
The series is a spin-off of three made-for-TV movies that also aired on TNT: The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines, and The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice. I’ve never seen any of those films, nor had I ever heard of them until this show, so I went into my viewing of The Librarians knowing nothing beyond one promo ad I watched once on a whim. The humor I saw in that was enough to get me tuned into the series premiere, and what I saw in the premiere itself might make this my new favorite show.
We’re first introduced to Colonel Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn), the soon-to-be “brawn” of the group. She’s working a case as a NATO counter-terrorism agent when The Librarian – Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle), the protagonist of the original films – quite literally bursts into the room, talks her through defusing a bomb, and disappears again in a flash. Soon after, Eve gets an invitation to work as a Guardian-with-a-capital-G for Flynn and the library of magical artifacts/information that he protects. Despite Flynn’s protests, Eve is determined to get to the bottom of what’s going on and accepts the job, which mostly involves being a complete badass and trading witty repartee with anyone who can keep up with her. (I love her already.)
Eventually Flynn and Eve uncover a nefarious plot to kill other potential Librarians, and they rush off to save the last three Librarian candidates in the world: Cassandra Cillian (Lindy Booth), a synesthete mathematician with a photographic memory, Jacob Stone (Christian Kane), a genius oil rigger with an expertise in art history, and Ezekiel Jones (John Kim), a master thief.
By the end of the premiere, we’re able to see each characters’ strengths brought together to form a cohesive team. The group has great chemistry right off the bat and I love the fast-paced quippy banter. Flynn’s catchphrase appears to be “I’m The Librarian,” which sounds like it should be unbearably cheesy but Wyle delivers it with such panache I can’t help but buy it. Eve is, as previously mentioned, a badass who takes to her new position as Guardian of The Librarian with equal parts ferocity, snarkiness, and empathy. And then there’s Jacob’s wide-eyed fanboying over the existence of magic, Ezekiel’s casual name drops of all the expensive things he’s stolen/will steal/is about to steal, Cassandra being surprisingly calculating – hah, get it, because she’s a mathematician? – there’s a lot to love from this group, and you’re sure to find a fave. Or you can just do like me and heart-eye everyone.
The pilot is not without its faults; the “wrong hands” that everyone keeps harping on about ends up being boring cookie cutter bad guys who work for a boring cookie cutter organization with a name that’s supposed to be threatening but sounds tacky. “The Serpent Brotherhood”? Really?
There are a few moments here and there that made the villains more personable – the Big Bad’s humorous “mostly the rug,” line, for instance, and I smell an antihero in bad gal Lamia (Lesley-Ann Brandt) – but for the most part it’s just random extras being zapped and beaten up. (Also, there was zero explanation for the ninjas. What’s up with that? Was that whole thing just for the purpose of the “ninjas in Oklahoma” line? I’m not exactly complaining, but if they keep introducing and then randomly dropping ideas just so the main characters can say a funny quotable one-liner, that could get pretty tiring.)
Despite this, The Librarians is really, really cute. Hopefully the bad guys will get fleshed out more in future episodes, but even if they don’t, the exciting action scenes, magical artifacts, and likeable characters will be enough to keep me watching.