Every so often comes a tailor-made film that is just good enough to get a sequel or two. And in rare cases, it will come back with an excellent TV series. Come, join The librarians, a show that draws you into a life of mystery and misery ̵
Before we get into the series, you should know that The librarians starts after three films about the coordinated librarian. But you do not have to see them first to enjoy the show. The TV series does an excellent job of assuming you have not seen what came before, and slowly introduces you to concepts, characters and mythology.
The librarian’s job is to find magical relics of innumerable forces and secure them in the library for safekeeping. Relics like Spear of Destiny, Pan’s Flute, Da Vinci’s Diary and Blackbeard’s Chest. The library itself is a massive (as large as it needs to be), possibly sensitive, building held in a pocket dimension and tied to the physical world of the Metropolitan Public Library.
We start the series 10 years into Flynn Carsen’s (masterfully played by Noah Wyle) period as a librarian. It is longer than any librarian has earned before. If you are familiar with the films, you will immediately see that he is a little older, a little more broken and much more eccentric.
Now, if you’re a fan of the SyFy channel, you can call foul and shout, “This is a rip-off of Warehouse 13! At the top of the lungs. But let me stop you there; The librarian come first. And the shows are very different, despite their shared concepts. But if you will Warehouse 13, sci-fi, fantasy and a bit of comedy in general, there is a good chance that you will like The librarians. So do not write it off yet.
An unbound beginning
When we begin the series, the library sends an invitation to Eve Baird, played by Rebecca Romijn from X men fame, for being the new Guardian. It is the Guardian’s job to protect the librarian’s physical and mental well-being. Flynn has been without the Guardian since the first film.
Her first day is not going well, as they discover a conspiracy to kill everyone who received an invitation to apply for the librarian position 10 years ago. The only applicants left are three people who did not show up.
First up is Jacob Stone (played by Christian Kane), a genius in hiding. He speaks many languages and has degrees in architecture, art history, Native American culture and more. But he hides behind a pseudonym and works like an oil rig. He did not show up for his interview because he feared he was out as a genius would cost him his family.
Right behind him is Cassandra Cillian (played by Lindy Booth). Cassandra is a mathematician with synesthesia. She can use auditory and visual hallucinations to retrieve “holographic simulations” to solve problems that normal people cannot. But she did not show up for her interview because she has a terminal brain tumor, and she was in the hospital.
And hidden in the corner is Ezekiel Jones (played by John Harlan Kim). He is an incorruptible master thief who uses an incredible understanding of technology to promote his businesses. In Ezekiel’s mind, he is the most amazing man in the world. He did not show up for his interview because he is an incorruptible master thief.
Rounding out the cast is Jenkins, expertly played by John Larroquette. Jenkins is the library’s caretaker, and for much of his time he worked in secret. Even Flynn was unaware of his presence until recently. It is implied in early episodes that Jenkins is far older than he looks.
Just as the group comes together, the library is attacked by an evil group known as the Snake Brotherhood. The group manages to connect the pocket dimension the library exists in from the physical plane, and cut all access to it.
A Show of Mystery and Adventure
If you are a fan of Warehouse 13you may ask where the differences I promised. Like the SyFy show, each episode focuses on restoring a magical relic and storing it in the library. At the beginning of the series, however, the library is cut off from the world, and Flynn’s best friend, Excalibur (indeed, the sword of Arthurian Legend), is killed.
The librarians retire to an annex and are divided into two teams. Flynn leaves (which allows Noah Wild to appear in occasional episodes) to find a way back to the library. Eve, Jacob, Cassandra and Ezekiel take over his duties to protect the world from magic.
Yes, magic is very real, which is a hallmark of Warehouse 13, but the other is tone. The librarians is a merry good-natured show that never takes itself too seriously.
It’s ready to sneak a Tardis from Doctor Who or a DeLorean from Back to the Future into an episode about time travel. It’s willing to turn the main characters into literal story book fantasy characters, like Prince Charming, because of the plot. The show has adventure, charm and dozens of laughs.
This is not to say that it can not be serious, but those moments sneak up on you. It will often happen at the end of an episode to make a lasting point or learn a wise lesson.
A show from yesterday for today
I love The librarians because it reminds me of the TV I watched when I was young. The show even titles episodes like previous years, from The librarians and Santa’s midnight run to The librarians and the self-fulfilling prophecy (and now you see what I did with this headline).
You get some adventure, some romance, plot twists and wise lessons – often from sarcastic Jenkins who also serves as the show’s oldest mentor. Seasons connect as the team runs to get one step ahead of the big bad enemy, and the quiet moments you noticed to reward you for your patience.
The librarians is a show where the good guys always win the war, and the bad guys always lose. Sure, the bad buys seem to win sometimes, and they even get the best of the good in a match, but at the end of the season, the good ones win. It’s not given in a TV series anymore, so it gives The librarians show a nostalgic feeling. Best of all, the good guys earn their victory, and they win by doing what’s right – not what’s easy. Sometimes it’s just nice to see good guys win and bad guys lose.
Each season the characters grow and you understand why every person present, even Ezekiel, is needed. The library made no mistake in who it chose to protect the world. Everyone is in doubt about why they belong, or even if they belong, at the library. But the group works together to grow, learn and win as a team.
Canceled too soon
Unfortunately, for all its grandeur, The librarians was canceled after four seasons. It can be a blessing in a way; it did not survive our stay as any show. (I am looking at you How I met your mother.) But it did not end on its own terms (as The good place), so I feel like another season. Despite its short employment period, you should give it a watch if you like sparkling adventures and good against evil. The librarians is the rare show that stayed true to its heart from beginning to end, and that makes it worth watching.
You can watch all four seasons of The librarians on Hulu. And if you’re interested, you can watch the three original movies for free on Vudu with commercials.