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Slovenly Muse

Compare & Contrast: The Librarians Vs. Other Shows

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How do the characters and team dynamics on this show stack up against Leverage?  Who makes better use of magical artifacts, this show or Warehouse 13? Is Flynn Carsen really a displaced regeneration of the Doctor, or does he just act like it? This is the place to discuss what sets The Librarians apart from the other books on the shelf!

 

 

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Ok, so, in the latest episode thread, the point was raised that Stone's irritated reactions to Ezekiel Jones brought to mind Elliot's reactions to Hardison on Leverage. I had some thoughts on whether or not the writers were intentionally trying to recapture that dynamic (namely that if they were, they were doing a really bad job of it):
 

 

I'm not sure if they're trying to recapture the Elliot/Hardison dynamic with these two. Because Hardison was a very likeable character (even when he was an egotistical jackass), and Elliot constantly shooting him down only served to demonstrate how gruff and closed-off Elliot was. (Because how damaged do you have to be to not find Hardison charming?)

 

Here, we have Stone, who is a nice, reasonable guy, who is open about his thoughts and feelings and has casual conversations with his teammates, shooting down Ezekiel for the legitimate reasons of Ezekiel being an interminable egotistical jackass. It doesn't reflect on Stone that he's not willing to buy Jones' BS, it reflects on Jones. Jones obviously has something to prove to the team (not to mention the audience) as to why he deserves to be there. Because currently, he doesn't. And he doesn't seem to see that yet. (And by god I hope that's intentional on the writers' part.) I actually wonder if it would be more fair to compare JONES to Elliot, rather than Stone. His "I don't care about anything but having fun" attitude serves the same function as Elliot's gruff, hostile demeanor, in that it isolates him from the others, deflects honest conversations, and prevents meaningful connections from being formed. Over the course of Leverage, Elliot went from being a cold mercenary with no emotional investment to eventually accepting the team as family, loosening up around them and frequently displaying real (albeit often heavily disguised) loyalty and affection for them. It seems to me that Jones is the one being set up to take that particular journey on this show.

 

I would add that from what we've seen of Stone so far: his enthusiasm and reverence for the unique historical artifacts they find (read: geeking out); the friendly, open conversations he has with the others; the untrained, spontaneous way he improvises in fights; his willingness to work with the whole team and really engage with them... he seems to me to be more like Hardison than Elliot.

 

I think it speaks well of the showrunners that even though they've put together a team that is very reminiscent of the team from the show that garnered them so much acclaim, they've really made the characters different, rather than slipping different actors into the same slots. Jones is the "Theif" of the team, but he is nothing like Parker. Baird is the "Hitter," but she is nothing like Elliot. So far, they've done a great job of setting up a whole new team of disparate people who bring different skills (and personal issues) to the table and depend on each other, without trying to lean on what they've already done with Leverage. I'm interested to see how this group pulls together over time!

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I hope its okay to re-post but I didn't see this thread when I wrote what I did in the Episode Discussion and its a better fit here:

It could be the magic elements but I get more of a Lindsey (CKs role in Angel) vibe from Jake, more than Eliot.

More and more though Ezekiel is certain aspects of Hardison and Parker in one, and amped up... To the point that's already getting old. Didn't Nate even (ironically) tell Hardison more than once he's gotten by on luck? Hardisons cockiness on jobs worked because it went along with Hardison actually caring the most about everyone. There were layers clearly laid out behind Parker's lack of connecting and massive thieving. All I'm getting from Ezekiel is thieving self centered jerk.

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Yep, I think I made this thread at the same time you posted in the other one!

 

I like your point about Ezekiel, and I totally agree. Yes, Hardison was the obnoxious one on Leverage, but it worked because he really was likeable and he cared about the others (and his devotion to Nana, which was the most adorable thing ever). Parker was the antisocial emotionless one, but it worked because it was played for humour and she was not obnoxious at all, plus it obviously sprung from some trauma or damage that joining the team might take steps towards healing. Ezekiel DOES seem to combine the worst qualities of Hardison and Parker, but without the redeeming characteristics that made them so much fun. Ezekiel has got a lot of room for growth, but so far the writing is suggesting that he doesn't need to grow, that the others just need to start thinking more like he does, and it's not really working for me.

 

I know that these writers ARE capable of putting together a great team with interesting dynamics and complex personalities and character arcs, because they've done it before, but I'm starting to wonder if they think that moving into a more magic-based genre means the audience will accept archetypes and supernatural nonsense in lieu of the more complex character-building that they had to put into their drama. The plotting of episodes seems to be leaning more on "um... because magic did it" explanations than actual tight storytelling. As a lifelong sci-fi/fantasy fan, I'm all for redefining the parameters of reality, but once you do that, you still have to work within those parameters, not just handwave lazy explanations with "well, magic exists so anything is possible or whatever." But I still feel like the ball's not quite rolling yet on this show, so I'm trying to reserve judgment.

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I don't really see Jones as a Haridson or a Parker- I think he's Sophie.  A thief by nature, not bred of necessity or hardship like Parker.  He's unrepentent and totally satisfied with his lifestyle. 

 

I've read lots of comments here about what an ass Ezekial is and I'm a little surprised because I'd like to see him go all the way.  GIve up the 'playful 'scamp' routine and just own his amorality.  I never doubted that Sophie was in it for Sophie and if things had ever gotten to the point that she didn't feel like she was getting what she wanted out of the set up she'd have been gone.  Again. 

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I don't really see any parallels to Leverage (which I loved!) - totally different premises, the only similarity is they share an actor in common.  I do however see this more like Warehouse 13.  Although that kept my attention more.  I do like this show, however I am easily distracted while watching it.  I miss W13, I hope this can fill it's place for me.

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I never watched Warehouse 13, although I'm frequently told I need to and, I'm sure I will sometime soon!

 

I actually DO see a lot of parallels to Leverage in The Librarians, they don't just have Christian Kane in common, but also John Rogers (co-created Leverage, created this show); Dean Devlin and Marc Roskin (produced and directed both); and Jonathan Frakes (directed both). So while they may not align perfectly, I am sensing a great deal of similarity between the shows.

 

I'm very hopeful that I'll get to see a few of my Leverage favorites pop up here! Paging Aldis Hodge!

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For my money, what this has in common with W13 is artifacts. What it's lacking is the wonderful family of characters. I miss Artie and Claudia, Myka and Pete and the way they all fit together.

I didn't despise any of them as I do Cassandra and Ezekiel.

Edited by ABay

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OK, the behind the scenes folks, I did know that.  But the premises are still different.  So - not much to compare for me.  :-)   I can maybe writing styles, of course, just like acting styles but the shows are still different.  Whereas both W13 and Librarian shows have hunts for magical artifacts and storing them away to protect the world, and a series of levels of people in the know and in control, and both are bigger on the inside (library and warehouse) and both move and have been in different locations throughout history....  Leverage doesn't have any of that.  I love Leverage, it's one of the few shows that I bought the DVDs, it's just not the same thing as this show to me.  

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But the premises are still different.

Oh, absolutely. Sorry, I wasn't clear! The set up on Leverage of helping people out using grifter 'jobs' clearly differs from The Librarians collecting various artifacts.

 

But I can't help but watch with a certain feeling of deja vu. Sort of like reading different books by the same author? Just a feeling like they are coming from the same greenhouse, if not the same plant...

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I try really hard not to compare it to Leverage but I can't help it.  And I don't think it's purely the Christian Kane aspect because I can separate Angel and Leverage just fine.  But I've binge-watched through Leverage soooo many times--with and without the commentary--that I start thinking things like, "Oh, John Rogers totally wrote that line," or "That stuffed bear is the same one Parker had in the Broken Wing Job". 

 

I also can't help wishing the effects were as good as Leverage.  I know they're two different types of effects since Leverage never had giant wolves running around but I never noticed that explosions on Leverage were done with models or that Parker wasn't really hanging off the side of a skyscraper but on this show it's really obvious and jarring.  I thought the effects on Leverage were so good because it was Dean Devlin's company that did them so I don't understand why The Librarians doesn't have the same quality.

 

I never got into Warehouse 13 because the actress bugged me a lot--can't remember why--so fortunately I'm not making those comparisons too.

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On 1/5/2015 at 8:34 PM, saoirse said:

I never watched Warehouse 13, although I'm frequently told I need to and, I'm sure I will sometime soon!

 

I actually DO see a lot of parallels to Leverage in The Librarians, they don't just have Christian Kane in common, but also John Rogers (co-created Leverage, created this show); Dean Devlin and Marc Roskin (produced and directed both); and Jonathan Frakes (directed both). So while they may not align perfectly, I am sensing a great deal of similarity between the shows.

 

I'm very hopeful that I'll get to see a few of my Leverage favorites pop up here! Paging Aldis Hodge!

I'd love some kind of crossover just to see Parker interacting with Cassandra.

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Parker or rather Beth Riesgraf was already on the show (back in season two as Lady of the Lake) but I'm still waiting for Aldis Hodge - but I guess Underground keeps him pretty busy.

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Seems to me there's an awful lot of continuity to Flynn's character from the first movie, which predated the big Dr. Who revival with Eccleston. 

Never saw Leverage but it seems to me the ads I saw certainly tried to give the impression the Leverage crew was cool...which is not what The Librarians does with its staff, I think. 

Since they've revised Cassandra's brain tumor, she's pretty much the smart one (Myka) and Jake is the arty one, aka, intuitive, (Pete.) But the pair are minus the sexual tension. But then, these people no more date than eat, sleep or watch TV.

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I'd say the show comes across as having DNA from both Leverage and Warehouse 13. Obviously there are similarities between the basic plot between W13 and the Librarians because their both based on a group of people who have to protect the world from magic objects. The idea of a rag-tag team working together despite widely different personalities (and the ensuing problems/hilarity) is what the Libriarans shares with Leverage. The element was also present in W13 but mostly between Myka and Pete.

What all three shows have in common is that occasionally their plots require a certain amount of handwaving by the audience (beyond accepting magic/supernatural in the universe of Warehouse 13 and The Librarians) which is hardly ever a problem since the characters are interesting and their interactions well-written. If you get your characters right you can get away with a lot.

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I figure this show gets its audience from two basic major sources.  Figure the first source is Noah Wylie fans who liked the movies or just like Noah Wylie and followed him to the show from Falling Skies, the movies or even all the way back to ER.  Figure one complaint they'll have boils down to "Why are all these new people on my Noah Wylie show?"  The second group were likely fans of Leverage and saw The Librarians as a kind of Leverage 2.0.  The structure of Leverage divided the team into Hitter, Hacker, Grifter, Thief and Mastermind.  While The Librarians can't really be mapped onto that structure, there are clear specializations within the team.  Also, the family-style dynamics of Dad(Ford/Jensen), Mom(Devereaux/Baird), Older Brother (Spenser/Stone), Odd Sister (Parker/Cillian) and Baby Brother (Hardison/Jones) are quite apparent in both shows.  Leverage did not, however, include an occasional sixth character who was a superspy/thief that did all those jobs and made the rest of the team seem slightly unnecessary, which Flynn sometimes does.  So, Flynn sometimes comes off as the interfering would-be stepdad that threatens the family by making it seem obsolete.

Edited by johntfs
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Well, the comparison for me is naturally Warehouse 13. One of the things about Warehouse 13 of course was Artie, which became Artie & Claudia. Pete and Myka's bag and tag missions were supplemented by the Warehouse in effect having a role, which was a good bit of what Artie/Claudia was about. As is, at the moment though, the Library is largely a library where no one reads. They've hinted at the Library being a player, but not even Jenkins really runs the Library the way Artie did (and talked to Claudia while he did so we'd know what was going on.) It strikes me that we're not really even certain whether the Library is committed to keeping the world stable and sane, i.e., magic-free. A magical world is all cool if you're a special snowflake but for most of us, the reliability of natural law gives us technology, the closest thing to magic we'll ever have in our lives. Otherwise we'd just be playthings of the higher powers. I'm not sure the characters, all being special people, really see the issue. It seems to be more momentum, doing what they were first hired on to do but without much thought about why. Except for Cassandra, who is increasingly one of those characters in Warehouse 13 who wanted to bring the artifacts out into the world.

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Oh, I see the comparison with Warehouse 13 (and the earlier, darker, Friday the 13th: The Series).  One thing that's interesting about The Librarians is that there doesn't really seem to be as much of a tit-for-tat upside/downside with The Librarians' artifacts as there was for those in the other two shows.  Sure, there's been talk about "the good of magic helps enable the bad of magic" and the "power corrupts."  My own thought is that everything had good and bad sides and that Kirby was corrupt (and psychotic) long before he had power.  We really haven't seen something like the thing that cures diseases/injuries by giving them to somebody else (there was a similar artifact in Friday the 13th: The Series, gloves used by a "faith" healer, in a wonderfully nasty episode that was directed by David Cronenberg.

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I've started getting into Relic Hunter, which also starred Lindy Booth for two of its three seasons.  Like The Librarians it featured a team (generally two people) that retrieved various artifacts from history many of which were magical in nature.  It starred Tia Carrere as Sydney Fox, a Lara Croft-style "relic hunter" who retrieved the various relics with the help of Nigel Bailey, played by Christien Anholt as her somewhat uptight British teaching assistant.  Lindy Booth plays Claudia, Sydney's ditzy blonde secretary who has a talent for getting the two whatever travel arrangements they need.

Relic Hunter has a light tone similar to that of The Librarians with an annoying twist of exploitation.  Tia Carrere is frequently obliged to appear in her underwear or be mostly offscreen naked or in various sexually charged situations with Nigel, usually to the latter's discomfort.  Because Tia's a woman and Christien's a man scenarios that would be creepy/grounds for sexual harassment if their genders were reversed are played for supposed laughs.  While Lindy Booth's character of Claudia isn't cheesecake fodder to the degree that Sydney is, she's usually put in tight, cleavage-revealing clothes.  Of course most of the female guest stars also get at least some of this treatment.

Relic Hunter is related to The Librarians, but instead of being an older cousin like Leverage or Warehouse 13, it's the mildly enetertaining but kind of an asshole uncle that likes to tell sexist jokes and read Maxim magazine even though your kids are around.

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