Third-episode verdict: The Librarians (US: TNT; UK: SyFy)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 3

In the US: Sundays, 8/7c, TNT
In the UK: Mondays, 8pm, Syfy

Well that rolled around quickly, didn’t it? Yes, time for a third-episode verdict already on TNT’s The Librarians, a spin-off series from the Noah Wyle TV movies that featured the character of the Librarian and is already being described as “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys for a new generation”.

Described by me as that, anyway.

The first couple of episodes were relatively action-packed, seeing Wyle and his helper monkeys defeat a magic-obsessed secret society led by a former Max Headroom who wanted the Crown of King Arthur, Excalibur and the Stone from whence it was taken (except it wasn’t) so they could return magic to the world. Budget now shot and Wyle off to defend the world from alien invaders instead, the third episode had to rely on the helper monkeys to fill the breach.

This was less than successful. The script was actually quite imaginative, giving us a new take on the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur that was surprisingly innovative. And while one could quibble with Christian Kane’s confusion over whether a fresco was Minoan or Helladic – are you blind, man? – the lurching around from historical inaccuracy to historical inaccuracy of the first two episodes wasn’t such an issue in the third.

No, the problem was twofold: the characters and the lack of fun. Without Wyle to bolster up both the supporting characters and the script, episode three revealed the spin-offs flaws like so much wallpaper peeling off from some cracked walls. Without the right kind of action and fun, the show stops being enjoyable and actually becomes quite painful, as we’re forced to watch some really quite dreadful actors try to inject life into some paper-thin characters with dialogue that the average five year old would probably regard as hackneyed. And with a budget far too low for its ambitions, it’s hard to really respect a globe-trotting show that largely sticks inside tunnels, offices and Boston alleyways.

So what we have here is a very variable, family show that lives and dies on its writing, with a cast that can’t save it when that writing falls through. When it’s good, it’s going to be brain-off, adrenaline-on TV; when it’s bad, it’s going to be fingernails on blackboards TV.

Still, Bruce Campbell is Santa Claus next episode. How can that not be aces?

Barrometer rating: 3
Rob’s prediction: Should last a while at least, particularly now we’re reaching Christmas, but it’s still got a long way to go before it finds its feet.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.