Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Librarians and The Horns of a Season Out of Order

I'm back again with a little bit of a rant and whine, and a happy part about the Horns of the Dilemma episode. Yes, I know, the whole season is done now, but I never got to recap this one and I needed to get this off my chest. It was the only episode of the entire serie that disappointed me. But now that I know why it was so disappointing to me, I'm not so butt-hurt. Bear with me, and let me explain...

After the rollicking two hour premiere, I was hoping for another fun ride. What I got... was something that made me feel like I was towed behind a Tonka truck and dropped off at the PlaySkool Barnyard.

In "The Horns of a Dilemma," the Librarians are off on what seems to be their first mission as a confirmed group. This time, it's the legend of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth. They are investigating murders that have been unsolved, and find that they all have ties to a big agricultural firm that houses a labyrinth in the basement - minotaur included. Jenkins whammys up a wormhole (this is where they get the "back door") for them, and this is a good thing. Nothing explodes, though. No papers flying through the air, no books all over the floor... Jenkin's head stays on his neck and shoulders. I was a little bummed about no big messy whirlwind, but oh well.

Certain things were starting to make sense to me, to a point. My biggest gripe with this episode was with the writing. The dialogue and cast's performances seemed so... retro. Like, they were actually kids who got yanked from 1985 and stuffed into grown-up bodies in 2014. In my recap of the premiere episodes, I previously said that the roles were pretty perfectly cast. I still stand by that, more so now that we understand what happened with the episodic sequence of the series. For those who don't know or haven't read that bit of news yet, I'll explain in a bit - but for now, hear me out if you would...

In my first recaps of the pilot episodes, I said that I thought Rebecca Romijn as Eve Baird didn't seem to fit the group - that she was like the mom trying to be cool. Well, in this episode she's the only one who does fit. But now I see that it's because she's supposed to be the mom type character - it appears to be written that way. The way she talks to them, one minute as if they are her kids then the next as if they are soldiers. Cassandra reminded her that they are not soldiers.

The other characters appear to be written younger than they were cast. Lindy Booth and Christian Kane seem to be reading dialogue for characters that are at least 15 years younger than the actors are. That may not be a big deal in Hollywood in general with regard to filming, but for this I think it is. Even John Larroquette's dialog sounded like it was written for a millenial, although his delivery is natural and it only made me twitch for a minute.

As much as I love Christian Kane for the part of Jake Stone, in this episode the character seems to be written like a youngish late teens, maybe early 20's type roughneck kid, Christian Kane is a bit more mature than that dialogue was. His performance is great, but his delivery seemed more "older dude" than it was written. I think if the writers could have written it a little more "grown up" in this episode, then I think it might have played better. (I hope that the Kane Nation and all the Kaniacs can forgive me for my very humble opinion!)

The character of Cassandra also seemed to be written as young adult-ish. Lindy Booth gave a great performance as well - but her delivery of the dialogue was too college-age for what seemed to be high school age dialogue. She has moments when her character delivers some appropriate adult sounding dialogue with big words and a "grown-up" tone of voice, which brings things back into focus for a second. Then it's gone. She goes back to delivering lines that could have been written on a high school campus in the mid-80's. Her wardrobe definitely looked like something you would see on a high-school campus. Again - if the part were written older, it would have played perfectly for Lindy Booth. Or if it were say... Emily Osment that was cast for the episode, it could have worked.

At 20 years old, John Kim was probably the most age-appropriate to the dialogue. But strangely enough, even his delivery of the dialogue seems a bit "old guy talking." He speaks really fast, so some of his lines get lost in his accent - which is beautiful, I just wish he'd slow the hell down and enunciate so I could understand it better! My DVR remote and thumbs thanks him for the workout, by the way - it asks you to meet up with my thumbs at the game console next time.

I think that one of the hardest things for me to get past was the speech mannerisms - that jerky, spastic, incomplete sentence thing. There was a lot of wincing and unfinished statements ("I can't... I just... You don't... It's not... lets not even.. ok?") that sound like some of the conversations I had with people when I was in high school - back in the day... the teenage angsty '80s. Right before grunge and Anne Rice vampires kicked in. So while I watched this, I kept thinking "Wow, I feel old. I remember saying that myself in high school..." I kept wanting to reach down their throats and pull up the rest of their words!

Adult actors playing teen/young adult roles, with adult delivery of teen-type dialogue and wearing clothing and hairstyles that are way too young for them just didn't work all that well here, and the seemingly inconsistent character development had started to annoy me a little bit. With the premiere episodes, I saw the potential for a really awesome series - one that we could have watched the actors grow up with in their character roles over time. With "Horns," that potential seemed to be wasted.

With the scripting of generational dialogue and wardrobe that dated the cast, I had started to worry that this might not last more than a season. I had been so excited when I first heard that they were doing this series! I started thinking that maybe I got ahead of myself with that. Yet, I still had I had hope that the powers-that-be behind the show would give us their best and do something with all that potential.

I'm really glad I stuck around for the whole season, because this series absolutely delivered. When I read some of the interviews from Dean Devlin and some of the tweets from the Kane Nation and the Kaniacs, I found a bit of news that made things a lot clearer to me. Here comes the happy part...

As I understand it, the network (TNT) decided to air the episodes out of order. (Why do networks always bloody do this? -Ed) So with that in mind, all of the above makes sense to me now! This episode was meant for a different point in the character development! The writing team and producers do such a fantastic job with a establishing a linear timeline for the characters' development that airing the episodes out of order kind of did the series - and the team who work so hard to bring us our Librarians - a disservice. I am absolutely thrilled to find that it wasn't just a weird thing with the writers, and knowing that the episode was indeed intended to occur at a different point in the character development actually makes my butt-hurt go away.

Sorry that was such a long way to go for the happy, but it was burning in my brain pan. Now - if TNT will just give us back our Librarians for at least another season, and air it in the order it was meant to be aired, I'm sure that all will be right in this world - and any other worlds that we may find outside the "back door."

Raven is an avid cosplayer and TV fan.

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  1. The problem isn't so much that it was aired out of order (as I understand it, this was always intended to be the first episode after the two-part opener).

    The problem is that the production on this show was very, very rushed. They had something like three weeks to do development work that would normally take place over the course of several months b/c otherwise the show wouldn't be ready in time for the christmas break. So the earliest episodes were written before the roles had been cast--which means the writers didn't quite have the chance to fit the dialog to the actors who would be delivering it.

    John Rogers, the head writer of the show, has a blog at that goes into the behind-the-scenes details, and is a great read if you're interested in the nuts and bolts of a cable TV show.

  2. Yes - I follow the KungFu Monkey blog. And it's not that this particular episode is necessarily out of order, but rather that with several episodes aired out of order it makes this one seem like it was out of place as well. Thanks for sharing your comment - I appreciate the feedback!

  3. Thanks for your honest opinion.. Kaniac here.. a big one.. Of course i didnt see it as you do. I just see it as Stone & the rest of the characters are new to "Magic" they aren't quiet sure how to deal with it all and that is how the cast were playing it.. .. I can't wait for that #LibrariansS2 .. and think we will see if there is one.. the cast will have a little more settled feeling with their characters . but of course that is just my opinion.. thanks for sharing

  4. I have to disagree and make no apologies for enjoying this episode of The Librarians. Loved the human tattooed Minotaur and Christian Kane's whistle at him. It was fun and played an important part in setting up the finale. Yes I'm a Kaniac and look forward to seeing more of Christian Kane in season 2

  5. Although I don't agree with your assessment if this episode, I'm glad you kept watching & gave the show a fair chance. I do agree that showing the episodes out of order detracts from the overall timeline and character development, so I also wish the network would stop doing that. Let's hope for an "orderly" S2

  6. Louise - I'm glad that you enjoyed the episode - and yes, it was an important part of the overall story line.

    Judy - that was really where I was going with this. The first time I watched it, it just seemed off to me. But after watching the series finale and learning that episodes ahd been aired out of order, I went back and binged the whole series again and THEN I was able to enjoy this episode as much as the others.

    Thanks for your comments! :)