Alibi V.13 No.49 • Dec 2-8, 2004 

Idiot Box

Book Marked

The Librarian: Quest for the Spear on TNT

They say there are two kinds of knowledge in the world: book learning and real-world smarts. You could charitably say that the folks behind TNT's new made-for-TV feature, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear are suffused with the first kind of knowledge. I say that not because they're deeply intelligent, but because they've obviously never been exposed to anything remotely real.

Writer David Titcher, for example, gave us the Jackie Chan remake of Around the World in 80 Days and some old episodes of “Punky Brewster.” Director Peter Winther and producer Dean Devlin, meanwhile, conspired to produce such bombastic, best-forgotten Hollywood outings as Independence Day, Godzilla and The Patriot. All together, this power trio learned everything they needed to know from watching summer blockbusters. Their vast knowledge of pop cultural entertainment and cinematic cliché is on ample display in The Librarian.

Clearly intended as a pilot for at least a series of made-for-TV movies, The Librarian introduces us to Flynn Carson (the ridiculously overearnest Noah Wyle), a professional student living with his mother (poor, overworked Olympia Dukakis) and fighting his expulsion into “the real world.” One day, Flynn gets a magical glowing invitation (no, really) to interview for a job at the Metropolitan Public Library. Somehow impressing the grumpy bosses (Jane Curtin and Bob Newhart, of all people), Flynn is hired as “The Librarian.” Seems that the Metropolitan Public Library is actually a secret repository for all the world's magical relics. In the highly guarded basement are the Lost Ark of the Covenant, Excalibur, the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, Pandora's Box and other assorted hard-to-believe treasures. It's now Flynn's sacred duty to help protect these items.

Naturally, a break-in occurs on Flynn's very first day. Seems that evil Kyle MacLachlan (tattooed and preposterous) has gotten his hands on part of the fabled Spear of Destiny. Now it's up to Flynn to hop the globe to find the other two parts of the mystical Spear before our baddie gets his mitts on them.

Flynn is, of course, teamed up with a sexy, butt-kicking babe (Sonya Wagner), and the two engage in the usual sort of Hollywood “I hate you banter” that normally proceeds an extended session of lip-mashing. Assorted encounters with Hollywood action movie set-pieces (the rotting wooden bridge suspended across the jungle chasm, anyone?) ensue.

The Librarian is clearly intended as “family friendly” entertainment. (Which is another way of saying that it's all too silly for adults to actually take seriously.) But, all things considered, it probably isn't any more far-fetched than National Treasure. Taken as a goofy B-movie fantasy for nerds, The Librarian is a tolerable, if overly familiar way to spend a Sunday night. Somewhere in America, there's a whole cabal of social misfits with thick glasses and a subscription to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine just waiting for a combination of From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Indiana Jones. Guys, your wait is over.

The Librarian: Quest for the Spear premieres Sunday, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m. on TNT.