Saving the world once a week
A few weeks back my husband came into the room while I was in the middle of an episode, and after watching less than a minute, he asked if it was a Warehouse 13 knock-off. I had to point out that the series was a continuation of a set of movies which pre-dated Warehouse 13 by several years. The first movie, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear was broadcast in 2004, five years before Warehouse 13 (the entire trilogy of Librarian movies were made and released before the first episode of Warehouse 13). Both the Librarian and Warehouse stories owed a big debt to Raiders of the Lost Ark and the other Indiana Jones properties, of course…
I never watched the original Librarian movies. They were TV movies made for the Turner Network Television cable network, and my previous experiences with any attempts by TNT to do science fiction or fantasy had all been pretty cringe worthy. Not to mention that the star of the movies, Noah Wylie, had thoroughly underwhelmed me in the few roles I’d seen him in before. And when news started trickling out about a television series based on the movies, I wasn’t terribly interested.
Until I found out Christian Kane was going to be on the show. And then I learned that Rebecca Romijn and John Larroquette were also going to be regulars, which was just icing on the cake. I’ve been a fan of Kane’s since he played the evil lawyer with literal demonic co-workers in Angel the Series. A lot more people came to appreciate his awesomeness when he portrayed Eliot Spencer in all five seasons of Leverage (there is a four-word line he delivers in the finale that still makes me choke up every time I re-watch it).
So I watched it. The episodes were fun. They have made some good casting choices. Some of the choices seem really strange at first (“…And Santa Claus’s Midnight Run” is an example), but panned out really well. It’s got a lot of the usual cliches you’re going to get in any episodic series that is predicated on a secret magical underworld to the modern world. Of course there is at least one Nikola Tesla episode. Of course there will be run ins with Arthurian legends. Of course there will be a recurring villain who sometimes does things that no real evil genius would be stupid enough to do. We’ll forgive all of those things if the characters are interesting, and if the resolution of the conflicts grow from the character’s individual traits, rather than just a gimmick of the week.
And the show gets those things right.
Another thing they got right: they didn’t end the first season on a cliffhanger. They resolved the recurring open plot in a satisfying way, and left things open for the series to continue, but there wasn’t a big, “Oh, no! How will they get out of that!”
I’m pleased with that for a couple of reasons. One is the obvious: there have been too many shows that got canceled with a major cliffhanger left hanging. That’s always annoying. But my stronger objection is that most shows that do continue after ending on a cliffhanger resolved the cliffhanger in the first episode of the following season in usually the absolutely lamest way possible. And the almost never show that the characters suffer any after effects of the clearly traumatic experience that the cliffhanger and its lame resolution ought to have been.
It was a fun, sometimes silly, string of adventures. We don’t know if it will be renewed for a second season, yet. I hope so. But I’m also glad the showrunners didn’t leave us hanging.