“The Librarians” Season 1 – An Amazing Show That Takes the Best Aspects of “Indiana Jones” and “Doctor Who”

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   “The Librarians” is such a great series. Never have I watched a series that captures the fun, adventure and hope of humanity so well since “Doctor Who,” and not only that it does it with the fun and camp adventure of “Indiana Jones.” Suffice to say, for my non-spoiler thoughts…Season 1 is worth checking out if you are a fan of any of the media I mentioned above. The show was born out of two made for tv movies on TNT, both of which I’ll be checking out later.

    The series was created by John Rodgers and airs on TNT.

    The story involves the Librarian Flynn (Noah Flynn) being forced to have another Guardian in the Special Forces NATO soldier Colonel Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn) and taking on apprentices when the Library chooses them knowing challenges are coming to it’s existence.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The world is fantastic! There are magical beings, monsters, treaties, spells, alternate dimensions and characters out of stories as well as the fascinating characters who inhabit these worlds.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack has a hopeful epic quality to it, much like “Doctor Who” with elements of “Indiana Jones” thrown in for good measure. Joseph LoDuca did a great job composing the score.

The Mythology – The mythology is fantastic as we have characters out of Aurthurian Legend shape the world around them. From Morgan La Fey and her trying to escape from our world, from Galahad working with the Library and Lancelot trying to bring back Camelot at it’s height. It is a rich mythology that is the core of the show including the timelessness of “The Library” and the different myths and legends that the Librarians explore.

Adventure – The sense of adventure is one of the strongest parts of this show. It kicks off this way with the pilot and stays true throughout as we travel through time, adventures, ancient temples and magical realms. It is absolutely a fun ride.

The Characters – The characters are the strongest part of the show, each of them has great motivations behind what they do and are not as simple as they first appear to be. These are the ones who carry the show.

Lamia – Lamia is Dulaque’s second-in-command and is a great threat as she takes control of Excalibur and King Arthur’s Crown and uses it to bring magic into the world. Sadly Dulaque kills her in the end to bring back his height of power but we do see her as Cassandra’s second-in-command in an alternate future where Dragons have destroyed everything.

Santa Claus – Bruce Campbell plays Santa and he’s a lot of fun. He manages to capture all the variations of the archetype through time, from St. Nick, to Santa and all the way back to Thor. I kind of hope we see him again, Campbell clearly had fun with the role.

Morgan La Fey –  Alicia Witt does an amazing job at creating a powerful and sympathetic Morgan La Fey. From her history with Jenkins, to Eve being the only one to hurt her in centuries and her desiring escape rather than power. This is a character with dimension who I can’t wait to see again.

Jenkins / Galahad – John Larroquette is great in the mentor role as Galahad/Jenkins the overseer of the Library who help the Librarians train up and to grow. His arc is choosing to fight again after he’s retreated into his work because of how much life/Morgan La Fey/Lancelot have hurt him. It takes his relationship to Eve and the Librarians to find himself again and become the hero of old once more.

Dulaque / Lancelot – Dulaque is a great threat, and I wish we had had more time with him. We see him attempt to overthrow the Library in the Conclave of the magical organizations. He is both a strong threat magically as well as physically. We also see a man who is desperate for the good old days of old, which gives him dimension as every conversation with Galahad reveals that it was his idealism that lead to his fall. Like in the book, Lancelot is a tragic figure.

Jacob – Jacob is a Texan the Library calls who has a love of art and culture and huge tie to family obligation. His arc is finding adventure and learning to see a world outside of his family as well as trust his team. Christian Kane really does a good job. He becomes The Librarian in a post-apocalyptic war reality.

Ezekiel – Ezekiel is a thief and this comes in handy on multiple occasions as he is already his worst self so his arc is finding his nobility and best self. We see this happen over time as he helps Cassandra get past her guilt and is a key player in most of the stories. The character annoyed me at first but he is now a favorite. His arc is fantastic and I liked his sci. fi. Librarian in the reality where ghosts had taken over. John Kim did an amazing job in the role.

Cassandra – Cassandra is one of the new librarians who has a tumor in her brain that helps her visualize thoughts and patterns. She is a great character who starts out betraying the Librarians an the Library but fights for them in the end and spends her arc earning back their trust and making peace with her death that will eventually come. Her story is powerful and Lindy Booth lends the role so much power. In the dimension where she is The Librarian she is a powerful magician who was trained by Morgan La Fey and uses her magic to pull all the other Librarians from their dimension bringing the team together for the final fight against Dulaque.

Colonel Eve Baird – Eve is a skeptic who becomes a believer in magic over the course of the show and has to learn how to be a leader but not necessarily a soldier, as none of the Librarians have any military training. It is when she thinks outside the box as Guardian that we see her really flourish. It is thanks to her that the Universe is saved and the Loom of Fate restored to normal as she helps Flynn find his power once as the Librarian and empowers as the other Librarians in the realities where they are the only Librarian. Rebecca Romijn is a great actress.

Flynn – Noah Wyle could play an american Doctor in “Doctor Who,” his role as the Librarian who kicks everything off is imbued with the love of adventure, arrogance and courage in the face of world ending threats. He was the character who got me hooked on the show and it is thanks to him I came to care about the other Librarians. I can’t wait to see what happens in Season 2 as we see how his arc of becoming a mentor and team player pays off in the long term of this series.

Okay / Cons: Too Pulp At Times – There are some episodes where the camp dialogue almost makes the show too campy. What counters this and why I’m not putting it as a complete con is that the characters are compelling enough to get around some of the hokey dialogue and threats.

The Cons: Will Death Happen? – Eve is brought back to life when Flynn brings back the Library. My fear with this is that we will get into “Doctor Who” territory where no one dies so the villains never end up feeling like a threat. They felt like a threat this season so maybe this won’t be an issue, but Eve’s resurrection at the end was an issue for me as related to future stories.

  This is overwhelmingly a solid show and even though I have fears that death won’t mean anything (which is the same problem I have with “Doctor Who” and some writing choices Moffat pulled). The characters overwhelmingly carry the show through the moments of really camp writing and I love all of the Librarians. Each of them is compelling and gets developed into a fully 3 Dimensional character. I can’t wait to watch Season 2 and learn some more of Flynn’s backstory in the TNT films. Suffice to say, I highly recommend this first season of this series.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

The 10th Doctor – Series 2, Episode 2 – “New Earth” – The Value of Life and Personhood

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   “New Earth” is an episode with a lot of good ideas and character moments, but can’t seem to know what tone it wants to take, which brings it down. It is still a good episode and one I would definitely recommend. You get to know Tennant’s 10th Doctor more and see how Rose and 10’s relationship is becoming more romantic than friendship. It also has a great appearance by Cassandra and a cameo by The Face of Boe and tries to deal with the issues of personhood and life.

    The episode was directed by James Hawes and written by Russell T. Davies.

   The story involves the Doctor taking Rose to New Earth but things are not as they appear as they find a darker underbelly to Paradise and an old enemy Cassandra returns to get revenge on Rose and the Doctor for past wrongs against her.

The Pros: The Comedy – The comedy in this episode is really good, especially the back and forths between the Doctor and Cassandra and Rose and Cassandra and when Cassandra is in their bodies…her sexualization of Tennant and deciding she likes it is hilarious as well as her finding the good in being in a “commoner” body when she inhabits Rose.

Chip – Chip is Cassandra’s Igor, a slave that is completely devoted to her well being. Sean Gallagher does a wonderful job in this role as a character who is vulnerable, devoted and also deadly when he needs to be. His death means something too as he is able to give Cassandra her one happy memory. I wish his character had been given the chance to create an identity beyond her though.

Cassandra – Cassandra (the “Last Human” living in stretched out Skin from last season) has an arc in this, the arc is learning to see outside herself and it takes her a long time to get there…from letting out the plague Clones that are used to create the cures by the Sisterhood and jumping between Rose, the Doctor and a plague victim’s body she eventually comes to see just how alone she is which finally forces her into Chip and her last act of giving herself her happiest memory and dying with peace in the arms of the woman she used to be before she lost her body.

Rose – Rose doesn’t do much this episode but what she does is better than her in Series 1. She is no longer the victim and is fighting to save both the plague victims, herself and the Doctor even as Cassandra takes control of her at multiple points. This episode really shows how she has come into her own as a companion after her time with the Doctor’s 9th Incarnation. “The Christmas Invasion” she didn’t do much…it was all the Doctor saving the day. Billie Piper also does a fantastic job playing Cassandra and Rose. She really does have a lot of range when given the chance.

The Doctor – The Doctor is all about the value of life in this and everything he does is to protect it. From the plague victims, to the people being treated in the other wards and even the Sisterhood all he does is to protect everyone. We also see his drive for justice as he offers to get a Cassandra a body but she must stand trial for her crimes. This doesn’t stop him from being compassionate though as he gives Cassandra a final moment with her past self. It is a moment of forgiveness that you don’t really see all that much from this Doctor who is still reeling from the Time War. The Doctor also has a vain moment where he checks his after Cassandra possessing Rose makes out with him, it’s pretty brilliant and shows how the Doctor can be pretty vain. David Tennant of course is always brilliant as the Doctor.

Sentience and the Value of Life – The plague victims were clones created by the Sisterhood in order to cure the humans who arrived on their world. They saw it as the most efficient way to do so as they saw creations as things that were not sentient. The Doctor and Rose are the answer to this and advocate and heal the victims of their wrongs leading to the Sisterhood being imprisoned. A dilemma is presented on the value of life but not really explored fully, though what the victims are going through and how they are raised shows that even if there is nothing in the mind but survival every blank slate can feel and grow since no person is fully a blank slate. As long as thought and feeling are there and it is alive, it is valuable life.

Okay: The Doctor Saves – The Doctor saves everyone using all the cures made from the victims. It is the Doctor Triumphant but clashes with the tone of death surrounding the episode. For this reason it was hard to fully enjoy as it felt a bit too happy, contrived and forced…which will bring me to the Sisters of Plentitude late.

The Face of Boe – Makes an appearance but doesn’t really do anything. He was pretty much just there to come again later and to be reminded of the value of life by the Doctor and to remind us the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords. The last of (enter species here) is a theme of the episode as we see Cassandra as the last of the people from her era pass, the Face of Boe leave and of course the fact that we are traveling with the Doctor.

The Cons: Tone – The tone is all over the place, we get some great humorous moments when Cassandra is possessing bodies but we also have human experimentation in the humans created to be lab rats and slavery via Chip…these ideas are brushed over for humor and we never get to see the issues explored.

Sisters of Plenitude – Contrived, forced and don’t feel fully fleshed out. Theses aliens feel like Russell T. Davies had an idea of cats, nuns and aliens and decided to combine them all together with no idea of how their civilization, culture or history actually works. They enemies just because they don’t understand humans? Was he thinking that cats are sociopaths so make a species like that? I have no idea where Davies was going with this enemy but they are weak, which is a problem for most of his original aliens.

The Russell T. Davies Alien Problem – The Judoons, Slitheen and countless others feel like ideas and not species. We don’t really get their motivation as they are one dimensional archtypes and the Sisters of Plenitude are no different. This is a major problem Russell T. Davies has and I’m going to make this a post in my reviews whenever it comes up. The Sisters are thrown together as a jab at anti-authority for the sake of anti-authority and present a false dilemma meant to show that they are just cruel sociopaths obsessed with order and keeping the status quo. Was not impressed at all.

   This was a fun adventure and I liked a lot of the ideas it presented even though the Sisters of Plenitude are a terrible antagonist…at least Cassandra got fleshed out more and got an arc before she went away (which is more than can be said in regards to some enemies during the Matt Smith Era). It is better than “The Christmas Invasion” for sure and I appreciate how Rose and the Doctor’s relationship develops this episode, even though it does have some story problems that keep it from being great.

Final Score: 8.2 / 10