Delayed Reaction: The Librarian movies

A complete pet peeve of mine is to start in the middle of a series or, even worse, watch the screen version before reading the book.  This is pretty easy to do as I am one who tends to just jump into a book without reading the synopsis. or just blindly choosing anything to watch.

After a hefty number of acquaintances kept whispering for me to watch “The Librarians” television show, and during a lull in my k-drama binge, I did. Within seconds, I got the same confusion-tinged fascination as I did when I first watched Doctor Who in 2009. Just like the time lord, there is no grand introduction or backstory of the main character. He just saunters on in and does what he does.

LT to Rt: CHRISTIAN KANE, NOAH WYLE and LINDY BOOTH star in TNT’s The Librarians.

The Librarian is Flynn Carsen, played by Noah Wyle. He is not the shushing librarian behind the reference desk. The role of Librarian is to find and bring back to the Library historical artifacts with immense power for safekeeping. This library is absolutely full of magic and spunk. When it’s guarded by Excalibur, the flying magical sword, humor is also most definitely there.

With the completion of the first two-part episode, I immediately delved into the researching the origins. Even though the two-parter does a great job of setting up who these characters are and how they worked, there was a heavy presence of history lurking in between the shadows.

No clue. Absolutely no clue that there were THREE Librarian movies:Quest for the Spear (2004), Return to King Solomon’s Mines (2005), and Curse of the Judas Chalice (2008).  All three were television movies and I am so mad that I missed out on these! These movies contained heavy blends of cheesiness, adventure, history, and even mysticism. Noah Wylie plays the Librarian in every single episode. And he looks fantastic in the newer television series. Perchance that waterfall fountain of youth really is the fountain of youth?

The Quest for the Spear (2004) is the actual origin movie for the Librarian. We watch as Flynn Carsen, a 30-year-old long time college student with multiple degrees who still lives with his mother, is selected from a long list of candidates. How? By quoting his mother (thanks Mom!).  Before he can even put his book down, he is pushed into an adventure to retrieve the broken pieces of the biblical spear from the Brotherhood.

As an origin movie aired on television, it did its job. It was compelling enough to wait through the commercial breaks and also fun enough to keep going. It’s completely bonkers and campy. What I did not like was how creepy one of the Brotherhood minions became over the Librarian. Played by nineties Asian it-girl, Kelly Hu, her character as the villainous minion Lana quickly deteriorates to a cartoon character. Her admiration of the Librarian goes from unfounded admiration to full-blown lust. It was unnecessary and did not work as a comedy element for me.

Although as annoying as Lana was, it did not come to close to the sheer hatred I had for the Librarian’s guard, Nicole (played by Sonya Walger). Her utter disdain and meanspiritedness from the first second ingrained a permanent dislike for her in me. I hated that there was a romance and felt that there was nothing that warranted one. Throughout the movie, she would look down on Flynn, mocking him for his lack of strength and social skills. Seriously? Although his pickup lines induced a significant eye roll, he was still polite and charming! If she had any character growth, it was minuscule, as she still harbored major mean vibes at the end of the movie. Who jumps over the shrubbery with a motorcycle in a crowded outdoor cafe? That’s not being cool. That’s being a jerk.

The second movie, Return to King Solomon’s Mines (2005), followed right after the first. but now the Librarian is full of reckless drive and energy. He has moved out of his mother’s house but he still feels constricted by the rules of the Librarian. Of all of the movies, this was the most farfetched as it connected long-ago childhood stories with a secret group that protects Solomon. I can’t even remember how the story went because it wasn’t very interesting. What did perk me up was that was no Nicole! However, we are stuck with the stiff upper lip of Emily Davenport (played by Gabrielle Anwar). Emily is in charge of an archaeological dig until Flynn saunters on in. Her role and duties in being the head of the dig is completely thrown out the window as she lets him just take over. She huffs and puffs and makes pouty faces, but she still allows Flynn to undermine her authority. Plus there is a rushed romance between these two and I can only shake my head at the absurdity of it all.

Moving on from the forgettable second movie, I was on to the third movie: Curse of the Judas Chalice (2008). Flynn has been the Librarian for quite a while now. He has been able to obtain numerous valuable objects for the Library… all at the expense of his relationships. As he struggles with the aftermath of yet another breakup, Flynn has an absolute meltdown. He is encouraged to take a vacation, but of course it is anything but.

The third movie was by far my absolute favorite. The story was full of supernatural elements and adventure. With the beautiful and great actress, Stana Katic (I’ve known her more for her role in Castle) as Simone Renoir, the romance between her and Flynn was beautiful. For a television movie, it was surprisingly well-done. The relationship was meaningful and beautiful, even when you find out the truth about her.

If it appears that a lot of emphasis is put on his relationships is because that is what fuels all three movies. His love interests had way more screen time than for whatever object was in the main title. Flynn may portray himself as a genius dork, he is a ladies’ man genius dork. Despite his clever mind, he goes absolutely bonkers for females. This can be either enduring or lacking but there is no doubt that what gets Flynn moving faster than anything else is a woman. I take it that he is just an absolute romantic and wears his heart on his sleeve.

All three movies did help flesh out some of the references in the first episode of the television series. For instance, the relationship between Flynn and Judson (played by Bob Newhart) is more meaningful and profound. Plus, I am absolutely in love with Judson. He is amazing.

Other parts that made more sense after watching the movie:

  • The remarks about “keeping the receipts” made more sense.
  • “Cal”..a,k,a Excalibur
  • The story about the spear was alluding to the first movie.
  • More history behind the library
  • The intro of the villains.

Yet, this background isn’t really needed to get into the series. For the show is a simple: Flynn and bad guys chase after magical relic. See how much Flynn has to do to actually get the relic. Watch Flynn fall in love. Cue happy ending. I would still recommend watching the movies before the show. Even if it’s just to admire how little Noah Wylie has aged and to appreciate the campy flavor of it all.

 

11 Comments

  1. Le Messor

    It sounds a lot like Warehouse 13, at least in premise – retrieving and storing mystical artefacts.

    “I’ve known her more for her role in Castle
    So, that makes two people who’ve worked with David Boreanaz.

    “to retrieve the broken pieces of the biblical spear from the Brotherhood.”

    The only spear I can think of from the Bible is Goliath’s. Is that the one?
    Ooh! Ooh! No… is it the one that pierced Jesus’ side as He hung on the cross? Known as the Spear of Destiny?

    I figure the artefacts on the TV series aren’t all Biblical?
    That makes a lot more sense.

  2. Are you confusing David Boreanaz and Nathan Fillion, Le Messor? Because the latter is the one on Castle.

    They both am handsome.

    I know Greg Hatcher has talked about the Librarians movies and series before, and made the series sound fun. I see the first 2 seasons of the show at the local big box store, so I may get them some time. Even though I have so many other things to watch! I assume the movies are on DVD too?

    1. We do indeed love The Librarians here. The reason the quality jumped a notch for the third movie and the TV series is because, I believe, that’s when John Rogers got involved. Rogers served as a script doctor on the third film and showrunner on the series’ first two seasons. Rogers, as it happens, is one of those writers I’d follow anywhere; creator of the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle and the show Leverage. My favorite thing he did was the unsold pilot for Global Frequency.

      Greg Cox, who is one of the best licensed-novel writers working today, just kicked off a new series starring The Librarians and I’m really digging it. Recommended.

  3. Greg Burgas

    The series is quite fun, and the new librarians and guardian (Rebecca Romijn) work well together. It is a bit like Warehouse 13, to be honest. And hey, that was a fun show, too! Plus, the Library is housed inside the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, so that’s always fun!

    And it’s “Wyle.” Why he spells his name like that I don’t know, but that’s the way it is! 🙂

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