TV Review: Wyle revisits 'Librarian' role

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'The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines'
When: 8 tonight, TNT.
Starring: Noah Wyle
   

Perhaps not as coma-inducing as the Dr. Carter-in-Africa episodes of "ER," TNT's sequel to its hit original movie "The Librarian" offers more of the same tepid, relatively family-friendly entertainment.

Children and some parents may enjoy this watered-down Indiana Jones-style adventure, but discerning fans of action-adventure yarns will feel let down. Again.

The concept for "The Librarian" remains solid -- Flynn Carsen, bearer of 22 academic degrees, gets recruited to protect humanity's ancient secrets by the Metropolitan Library. In the first film, it was semi-amusing to watch Flynn (Noah Wyle) bumble his way through adventures, showing that intelligence does not always equate to street smarts. But the execution of these films leaves much to be desired.

This time "Star Trek" veteran Jonathan Frakes ("Star Trek: Insurrection") directs "The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines" (8 tonight), and he does no better than the sub-par script calls for. (The movie was written by Marco Schnabel; this marks his first produced script.)

By the final scenes, the movie becomes almost incomprehensible. One minute, Flynn and his latest tough female sidekick (Gabrielle Anwar, replacing Sonya Walger from the first flick) are about to drown, the next, they're freed by a friend. How exactly that happens is clear as mud.

When Flynn returns to his apartment to find it ransacked, he never turns on the lights. Why not? When he explores King Solomon's Mines, buried deep within a mountain, a light shines on the displayed Book of Solomon. Where is the light coming from?

The biggest disappointment from this "Librarian" sequel is how much it's a rehash of the first movie. Granted, Flynn is no longer a newbie (he's been on the job a full year and has become a little overly sure of himself), but he's again paired with an attractive female equal.

Perhaps next time, if there is another film, they'll send Flynn on an adventure with super-serious library secretary Charlene (scene-stealing Jane Curtin), who demands Flynn produce receipts with his expense reports.

Similarly, co-star Bob Newhart, as chief librarian Judson, needs to be more involved in the adventure rather than acting only as a Yoda to Flynn.

There's little in this "Librarian" that's likely to upset parents, save, perhaps, for a jokey reference to two adjoining mountains that resemble a woman's breasts.

That's not to say this is recommended for kids, who also deserve intelligent fare. Even young viewers who have seen a handful of movies might be able to figure out the bad guy's identity long before the film makes that oh-so-obvious revelation.


TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Ask TV questions at www.post-gazette.com/tv


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