Second impressions? Season 2 premiere of ‘The Librarians’

Y’all knew where I was this past Sunday night, right? Watching the Season 2 premiere of “The Librarians” OF COURSE. The premiere kicked off, like last year, with two back-to-back episodes:

  • Episode 1: “And the Drowned Book”
  • Episode 2:  “And the Broken Staff”

*POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

The first episode starts off with the news that the librarians-in-training have all been working on their own for the past few months, so they have to learn to work together again in this episode. The library is back, but Jenkins discovers that items are going missing and that the library is rearranging itself. Something rotten in the state of Denmark?

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from Season 2 premiere of 'The Librarians'

Screenshot from Season 2 premiere of ‘The Librarians’

There are new villains for Season 2, fictional villains from great works of literature — referred to as “Fictionals” — including Prospero from Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes stories. As some of my favorite episodes from Season 1 focused on inventive twists on fairy tales and legends, I am looking forward to the librarians taking on the “Fictionals” throughout Season 2.

My husband, a college English instructor, personally liked how literary Season 2 is already. And I already have more appreciation for the Season 2 tagline, “This season they’ll need every trick in the book.” 😀

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from Season 2 premiere of 'The Librarians'

The gang is back together! Librarians unite! Screenshot from Season 2 premiere of ‘The Librarians’

My favorite bits from Episode 1, “And the Drowned Book”:

  • 8 minutes in, Flynn and Eve are going to a museum exhibit on a new mission:
    • Flynn:  A new exhibit brings in the fundraisers and gives the big-wigs a chance to rub elbows with the rock star archivists and librarians.
    • Eve:  Every girl’s dream.
  • 30 minutes in, Flynn’s fan-boy glee when he thinks he’s met Sherlock Holmes:  I love you! I mean, I love your adventures… A team-up with Sherlock Holmes!
  • 45 minutes in, Prospero casts Shakespeare as the villain:  Shakespeare broke my staff; he drowned my book. Who is more real? Authors or their creations? Again, I appreciate how inventive the writing is.
  • Almost 50 minutes in, the librarians are trying to figure out how to stop the storm system of hurricanes Prospero has unleashed upon New York. Problem-solving at its finest:
    • Jake:  People don’t have great track records of stopping hurricanes.
    • Flynn:  Well, they haven’t had the resources of the library. [Snaps his fingers, turns to Jenkins] Zeus’s lightning bolt?

The second episode continued the Prospero storyline. The librarians are trying to prevent him from putting his broken staff back together while also trying to protect the heart of the library. The library’s security system actually traps the librarians inside the library, so they have to work together (sensing a theme here) and use the library’s internal resources in order to stop Prospero and protect the “tree of knowledge” at the heart of the library.

My favorite bits from Episode 2, “And the Broken Staff”:

  • Almost 10 minutes in, Ezekiel researches references to lost or broken staffs in the old-school library card catalog. Actually, this scene both amused AND infuriated me. (Especially because Ezekiel is tossing the cards onto the stairs as he goes through them. NOT COOL. You better be planning on re-filing those cards, dude.)
    • Ezekiel:  I’ve got references to a bunch of lost magic staffs in here…
    • Jake:  Just cross-reference staff with “broken”
    • Ezekiel:  How? It’s not like it’s a search engine.
    • Jake:  What do you mean, how? You don’t know how to use a card catalog?!
    • Ezekiel:  It’s the 21st century. I don’t know how to shoe a horse, either.

Jake’s look of outraged incredulity during this scene was PRICELESS. I feel you, Jake, I feel you.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from Season 2 premiere of 'The Librarians'

What do you mean, how? You don’t know how to use a card catalog?! Screenshot from Season 2 premiere of ‘The Librarians’

I AM RAISING MY HAND SO HARD, Y’ALL.

  • 20 minutes in, the librarians-in-training have to bribe a young girl who checked out the local library’s only copy of the unabridged, complete works of Shakespeare. I guess you can put a price on knowledge… 😉
  • Almost 40 minutes in, Flynn’s attempt at soothing Frankenstein’s monster:  Hug it out. For humanity. Yes. There’s no need for violence. This is how librarians solve problems. With our minds and our hearts. [Frankenstein’s monster throws hims off.] Worth a shot.
  • Eve’s eternal frustration with Flynn because he never has a plan; rather, he just goes off adventuring and reacting in the moment. And 46 minutes in, she totally calls him on it:  I want you to stop. And think! (I also love that the planner in the group is the non-librarian.)
  • 55 minutes in, Flynn’s description of the tree of knowledge:  Knowledge is young, always growing. No matter how much [knowledge] you think you have, there’s always room to grow.

My favorite aspects of the series are still in full force. It’s so earnest and fun, and you learn a little (or a lot) along the way. In fact, what I said last year still sums up what I find appealing about the entire series:

Reel Librarians | Quote from 'First Impressions' review of 'The Librarians' TV series premiere

I always finish watching an episode of “The Librarians” with a smile on my face. 😀

‘The Librarians’ are back!

I was reading through this week’s issue of People magazine, and I literally squealed out loud and clapped when I saw this ad for ‘The Librarians’ TV show.

'The Librarians' magazine ad

‘The Librarians’ magazine ad

That’s right, ‘The Librarians’ are back! The tagline for the second season is:

“This season they’ll need every trick in the book.”

This season will kick off on TNT this Sunday, Nov. 1, at 8/7c. You’ll know where I’ll be this Sunday night! You can find out more on the TNT website.

And if you’d like to catch up on the first season, check out my posts below from last year:

Reel librarians with ‘A Bone to Pick’

A few months ago in this post, I highlighted a preview of a new Hallmark TV movie, “A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery,” based on the book series by Charlaine Harris. The title character is a younger librarian, played by Candace Cameron Bure, who also served as executive producer.

The Aurora Teagarden Mystery series continues this summer, with the next TV movie set to premiere this Sunday, July 26, on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel. Will you be watching along with me?

Snapshot of Real Murders:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery episode

I also recently rewatched the premiere movie, “A Bone to Pick,” and overall, it’s an enjoyable show. If there’s a bone to pick — I couldn’t resist the pun! — it is a typically “cozy” type of mystery, nothing too scary or mentally taxing. It’s the kind of show where there is a lot of light, and everyone seems to have huge living rooms. I most enjoyed the warm portrayal of its title character as a multi-faceted and multi-talented reel librarian.

Setting the stage for sleuthing

The TV movie starts out not in the library, but instead in Aurora’s bedroom, where she is braiding her hair and practicing a presentation about a notorious historical murder, a speech she delivers in a town hall where the “Real Murders Club” has gathered.

Reel Librarians  |  Opening shot in 'A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

Reel Librarians  | Real Murders Club in 'A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

After the successful presentation, an older member, Jane, ruffles up some controversy by stating that Aurora should run for president of the club. Jane then invites Aurora to her house the next day to pick up a few out-of-print titles about true crime, and we learn a lot of character background — including the fact that Jane is a retired librarian! The plot doesn’t get going until we learn that soon after, Jane has passed away and left her house and estate to none other than Aurora. Part of the legacy she left to Aurora includes a hidden skull and a mystery to solve….

*MILD SPOILER ALERTS*

The resulting mystery is not all that interesting:  It includes break-ins and cheating spouses and a really far-fetched conclusion involving a pregnant cop practically giving birth while arresting the perps.

Librarian role call

This TV movie and the series definitely fit into the Class I category, with Candace Cameron Bure as the title character Aurora Teagarden, or “Roe” for short. Here are the other librarian characters in the story (who, strangely, don’t get seem to get screen credits):

  • Jane, the spinster librarian who died and left Roe her estate
  • Lillian, the middle-aged spinster librarian meanie who scares children and is always on Roe’s case
  • Characters also mention a Mr. Crowley, the head of the library, but we never see him onscreen
Reel Librarians  |  Reel librarians in 'A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

Reel librarians Roe, Jane, and Lillian in ‘A Bone to Pick: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery’ (2015)

Salary and education

The low salary given to librarians gets mentioned quite a lot throughout the TV movie. Roe doesn’t even expect to afford rent on her librarian’s salary (her mother pays her rent), and she wonders how Jane was able to afford such a big house (it turns out Jane had inherited money).

  • I can’t afford a new dress.  /  Because you are woefully underpaid.
  • I never thought I’d own a house, not on a librarian’s salary.
  • Too bad I can’t afford it.

Moral of the story? Pay librarians what they are worth! (This means at least a living wage, y’all.)

Education and “library science” also merit a mention, mostly in the early exposition scene between Roe and Jane. Her master’s thesis was in true-crime literature, which sounded odd to me. Jane agreed!

Roe:  I wish I had had access to a collection like this when I was getting my master’s. My thesis was in true-crime literature.

Jane:  That wasn’t a speciality of library science in my day.

Roe:  It’s still not, officially. I think I’m the only librarian in the state who has it.

Side note:  I also did a research project in my Children’s Literature graduate class, a project all about character types in detective and mystery stories for children and young adults. We’re so alike! 😉

Here’s how Roe would probably react to that statement:

Reel Librarians  |  Librarian eye-rolling in 'A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

Whatever, Jen.

There are several scenes highlighting the bright and spacious public library. The sign on the front door says “Lawrenceton Public Library,” which is a nod to the Lawrenceton, Georgia, setting of the books. However, the TV movie was filmed in British Columbia.

Librarian tasks we see onscreen include: opening up the library, researching on the computer, shelving books, and helping a little boy find a book (he’s scared of Lillian, the dragon-lady librarian, who is really rude and condescending to him). Lillian is a total rule-monger and Spinster Librarian character type.

Reel Librarians  |  Public library in  'A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

Reel Librarians  |  Roe helping a young boy in 'A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

Reel librarian style

Roe’s fashion sense is subjected to many negative comments throughout the TV film, mainly by Roe’s mother — and by Roe herself!

  • This has no pizzazz. [her mother, referring to a blazer with piped trim, seen above]
  • I’m sorry, I wanted to change into something nicer. [Roe, wearing a sweater on a date]
  • This is what you wore, on a date?! [Her mother, after Roe’s date]
  • Please tell me you’re not wearing that to church. [Roe’s mother]
  • I wish I had more fashion sense. [Roe, going shopping]

I didn’t really get this style criticism, because she looks cute, relatable, and modern to me. Cardigans and practical coats abound. (I did think they overdid it with the praise whenever she wore a dress.) But no one except her mother ever comments on her hair and her signature side braid.

Reel Librarians  |  Collage of Roe's style in 'A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

Collage of Roe’s style in ‘A Bone to Pick: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery’ (2015)

Librarian skillz

Roe has got skillz. She is smart, observant, and resourceful, and she’s not afraid to do research and get her hands dirty. And it’s nice to see how she uses her skills as a public librarian, as well, using knowledge of patrons she observed who were frequent visitors to the library. People also trust her, given her position in the community.

We definitely see a well-rounded character in Roe and an atypical reel librarian portrayal. I haven’t read the series, so I don’t know how close it is to the character in the books. We get to see different sides to Roe, the good and the flawed. Other characters, including her friends, both compliment and challenge her.

Reel Librarians  | Best friends in 'A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

Best friends Roe and Sally

Roe has relatable flaws — she is stubborn and doesn’t really listen to her closest friend or her mother. She prioritizes her own pleasure in figuring out a puzzle above the logical (and legal) step of handing over evidence to the police — and then doesn’t want to return the skull to the police because she doesn’t want to get in trouble for withholding evidence! Gotta go with her mother on that one — “maybe you deserve to be behind bars.”

Roe is also warm-hearted, friendly, and generous. And she’s definitely got spunk! It is interesting to note that Roe is susceptible to stereotypes — she starts dating a young minister — but is also open-minded when those stereotypes are challenged. (As a librarian, wouldn’t Roe be used to being stereotyped by one’s profession?)

Her sleuthing skills are highly praised throughout, including how she had set up a crime board in the living room of her new house. But it really annoyed me that common sense takes a back seat sometimes. For example, she set up her “secret” crime board — complete with maps and post-it notes and records — in full view of the front door and the front windows with blinds wide open for anyone to see what she was up to.

Reel Librarians  |  Snapshots of Roe's evidence wall in 'A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

Roe’s evidence wall, which is visible from the front door and windows

Connections between research and sleuthing

Does Roe being a librarian matter to the story? In some ways, it seems more important that she’s a member of the Real Murders Club, but the fact that she’s a librarian is emphasized throughout the TV movie. She applies the same skills — her intelligence and logical way of thinking, her organizational and research skills, as well as her friendly demeanor — to both her job as a librarian and to her adventures as an amateur sleuth.

Roe connects the dots for the audience by using research in her sleuthing, skills she obviously picked up as a librarian. So I would argue that yes, identifying Roe as a librarian not only helps the audience trust Roe but also helps us believe in her skills as an amateur detective.

Reel Librarians  |  Roe researching in 'A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

Reel Librarians  |  Roe studies a skull in 'A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

Reel Librarians  |  Roe compares maps in 'A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery' (2015)

I mentioned in this prior post, “Nancy Drew as a librarian?,” how much overlap I personally see between private detectives and librarians, and I’ve already stated that I think Nancy Drew would have been an AWESOME librarian. I’d like to think that in the character of Aurora Teagarden, we can have the best of both worlds — why choose between being a private detective and a librarian? You can be good at both! 😉

I will wrap things up with a compliment(?) that Jane bestowed upon Roe in an early scene:

You have a mind for murder like no one else I know.

Thank you. I think.

Again, the next Aurora Teagarden Mystery movie, “Real Murders,” premieres in a few days, on July 26. Are you interested in watching along with me?

 

A body in the library in ‘Murder, She Wrote’

I love the classic TV series, “Murder, She Wrote” (1984-1996). The character of Jessica Fletcher? Angela Lansbury? Angela Lansbury’s repertoire of facial expressions? LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Lansbury ReactionsThere’s even a Twitter account, Lansbury Reactions, shining the spotlight on her priceless facial expressions. Genius!

I recently had a “Murder, She Wrote” TV marathon going on in the background while I worked on other things (they regularly run classic TV marathons on the Hallmark channel). By the way, I don’t believe in “guilty pleasures” — there’s no guilt or shame in liking what you like, and no apologies.

So I’m sure you can imagine my delight when a reel librarian appeared onscreen! The episode “Family Secrets,” which was the second episode of Season 9 and aired in September 1992, opens in the local public library.

Here’s the episode write-up from IMDB.com:

“One of Jessica’s former students is murdered when he returns to Cabot Cove to write a book exposing new information on a 30-year-old town scandal.”

The episode opens with a bird’s-eye view of the local public library, dark and stuffed to the gills with bookcases, furniture, and piles on tables.

*POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERTS THROUGHOUT*

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from an episode of 'Murder She Wrote'

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from an episode of 'Murder She Wrote'

Jessica is typing on a laptop (!) and looking over a stack of books. Behind her creeps up a librarian, complete with thick bottle glasses and a buttoned-up cardigan.

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from an episode of 'Murder She Wrote'

Librarian:  Ms. Fletcher? Ms. Fletcher?

Jessica:  I’m sorry, Arnold, I’m guess it’s getting to be that time.

Librarian:  I’m afraid so. Still looking for that perfect poison?

Jessica:  Oh, yes. I know it’s here somewhere, deadly, exotic, virtually impossible to detect.

Librarian:  Until the murderer gets caught on the last page.

Jessica:  You’ve been reading my books! I’ll just gather my stuff together.

Librarian:  No hurry. I just wanted you to know that I’m leaving. Just be sure and lock up when you’re finished.

Jessica:  Oh fine, thank you, Arnold, I’ll do that… See you tomorrow, Arnold!

My immediate reaction to this opening scene:  Ummm, WHAT??!! I know I’m going to get all capsy on y’all. While I’m glad to see the librarian — and a less common portrayal of a male librarian — enjoying a friendly rapport with Jessica, there is NO WAY I would allow a patron to stay in a library after hours. Not even for my beloved Jessica Fletcher. (Unless she were a librarian. And Jessica Fletcher would have been an AWESOME librarian.)

It’s just unrealistic to expect a librarian to NOT do a thorough walk through the library before closing time and secure everything and (kindly but firmly) escort any remaining patrons out. There’s the issue of library assets, for one thing.

And for another, the prevention of murder.

This is evidenced by a scene halfway through the episode, when a nosy former student, Randy, winds up dead in the library.

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from an episode of 'Murder She Wrote'

But we do get to see Randy a few times before he winds up dead. We first meet him in the library in the episode’s opening scene, after Jessica is left to lock up the library. Randy had gotten “lost in the old files” while researching. We see Randy in the library again on the night he died, table full of materials that he tries to hide from the prying eyes of Arnold.

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from an episode of 'Murder She Wrote'

I guess Arnold wasn’t the only one interested in Randy’s research. Someone figured out Randy would be researching in the library past closing hours and took advantage of an opportunity… Methinks that locking up the library properly could have helped prevent that murder.

Or is the librarian the murderer? He is immediately pegged as a suspect, because he was jealous of Randy’s success. We learn that on the night Randy died, when Arnold brings up the past:

Arnold:  I was just remembering how we would take all those writing classes together. We’d always share notes and talk about how we were both going to make it big time. Then you went off to Portland to become a hot-shot reporter, while I… well, you know.

Randy:  Arnold, we earn our big breaks. And this is mine. Yours will come, huh?

Reel Librarians  |  A screenshot from an episode of 'Murder She Wrote'

I also groaned aloud when Arnold opened up the library the next morning, right before discovering Randy’s body:

“That’s funny, the door’s open. Randy said he’d lock up when he finished last night.”

Way to blame the murder victim! In fact, the expression on my face probably looked similar to this:

Lansbury Reactions tweet

Click the photo for the animated GIF. It’s worth it!

So did the reel librarian commit murder in his own library? I won’t spoil the ending for you. I would never deny y’all the opportunity to watch an episode of “Murder, She Wrote.” 😉

Happy sleuthing!

Preview of ‘A Bone to Pick: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery’

One of my favorite byproducts about this site and research project is when friends and family send new reel librarian titles my way. It’s like I’ve got a network out there, looking out for me and my research interest of librarian portrayals in film. Thank you all, and please keep those titles and suggestions coming!

Last week, a colleague sent me the name of a new TV movie that she received word about through a cataloging list-serv. The TV movie in question is from the Hallmark channel (more specifically, in my area, the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel) called “A Bone to Pick:  An Aurora Teagarden Mystery,” starring Candice Cameron Bure as the title character — who happens to be a young librarian!

Screenshot of Aurora Teagarden Mystery series

I love the write-up on the Hallmark site:

A librarian with a sharp mind for murder, Aurora Teagarden is known around her small town as a master sleuth.

Remember this post about Nancy Drew, in which I opined that she would have been an AWESOME librarian?! It’s so meta… 😉

It turns out that this TV movie is an adaptation of a book series by Charlaine Harris, who also wrote the Sookie Stackhouse books (which were adapted into the True Blood TV series)! Harris wrote eight mystery novels in the Aurora Teagarden series from 1990 to 2003. Here’s how the series is described on its Wikipedia page:

In the first book of the series, twenty-eight-year-old Aurora (Roe) Teagarden is a professional librarian and belongs to the Real Murders club, a group of 12 enthusiasts who gather monthly to study famous baffling or unsolved crimes.

Sounds like fun! I haven’t been able to watch the TV movie yet, but I was able to record it during one of its repeated showings. So this means I will have a follow-up analysis post for you soon!

In the meantime, there’s a couple of videos on the Hallmark site for the Aurora Teagarden TV movies, as well as more info, photos, and upcoming showtimes.

Preview of the Aurora Teagarden Mystery

Have you watched this TV movie and/or read the books? Please leave a comment and let me know!