The Librarian films are a surprisingly popular action-adventure/fantasy series of TV movies made for the TNT cable network in the United States. The concept is fairly simple: all the world's greatest and most dangerous treasures (including the literal Goose That Laid the Golden Egg, H.G. Wells' time machine, the Golden Fleece, the Spear of Longinus and the real Mona Lisa - yes folks, the one in the Louvre is apparently a very good fake) are kept in a secret and generally highly secure library, the Metropolitan Public Library (previously the Library at Alexandria, Egypt, but later moved to the United States), and guarded by the world's smartest and most knowledgeable person... known, of course, as The Librarian.Very light and tongue-in-cheek but with a surprisingly high budget for a TV movie (they're heavy on both stunts and special effects), the movies take the world's biggest geek, and make him into a bumbling but surprisingly capable action hero who must often travel the world in search of secret or stolen treasures, and retrieve them for The Library, which he is also the chief guardian of. Typically the adventures of course feature a large number of traps and other situations that require ridiculously obscure knowledge and good perception in order to beat or bypass... such as figuring out that an arrow-spewing trap is in time to a waltz (causing the hero and heroine to dance their way across the ancient Mayan death trap), or exactly where they are in the gigantic Amazon rain forest based entirely on the fact that they're within view of a particular endangered species of condor's territory (after they escape by parachute from a commercial passenger plane and land in it... which happens right after Carsen figures out how to read an ancient text after translating the long-lost Language of the Birds in a matter of hours in-flight).The films are, in short, action-adventure comedy that parodies action adventure movies, with the world's biggest nerd as the action hero.ER veteran Noah Wyle stars as the title character, Carsen, a sort of cute but very geeky boy-next-door who lives with his mother in New York, and is a perpetual student, with over two dozen degrees; precisely why he's offered the job in the first movie. He's accompanied in each movie by a tough-as-nails companion, who's always an attractive woman in a deliberate subversion of the "brawny man, weak woman" stereotype (Carsen himself can't fight worth a damn when it comes to throwing kicks and punches). Due to actresses' schedules (the one who played the bodyguard Nicole Noone in the first movie took a job as a regular cast member on Boston Legal around the same time), the female companion seems to change in every film, from a bodyguard appointed for his first year, to an archaeologist who happened to be searching for the same thing, to a woman that he was drawn to by destiny. This ends up giving the movies a sort of subversion of a Bond Girl who ends up at least as competent as the Librarian at the action.The first film (subtitled Quest for the Spear) covers the Spear of Longinus. The second (subtitled Return to King Solomon's Mines) covers the lost mines of Solomon, and the third (subtitled The Judas Chalice) involves Dracula and an "eeevil" version of the Holy Grail. The second and third films were directed by Jonathan Frakes, who also has very short cameos in each.
Seems to be a requirement for the post of the Librarian. The movies seem to be pointing out that there's plenty of badasses, and plenty of bookworms, but not everyone can be both and still be a good guy.
Badass Normal: Arguably most of the characters, in a weird sort of way. The Librarians rely entirely on brainpower and observational skills, which are absurdly good, but still technically humanly possible, one would suppose; the bodyguards are tough and capable, but not magically tough and not as clever as their charges, etc. Meanwhile, Bob Newhart's character is an ex-military man who has inexplicable powers like walking through solid objects, one of the few folks with outright supernatural powers in the films. He is also the warrior librarian from thousands of years earlier who first founded the Library.
Bodyguard Crush: Nicole starts out as Flynn's bodyguard and falls for him. She also loved the previous librarian.
Brother Chuck: The lead seems to always get a new love interest for each movie with the previous woman disappearing for no reason other to just have him find a new girlfriend.
Lampshaded in the third movie, when Flynn's girlfriend leaves him near the beginning. Very few love interests can deal with someone whose life is as complicated as the Librarian's. They all ended up leaving him for some reason or another.
Catfight: Between the aforementioned hot henchwoman and Nicole Noone in the first movie.
Comes Great Responsibility: The previous Librarian before Carsen is the baddie of the first film, who uses his brains for selfish gain... and subsequently gets outwitted and defeated by the new Librarian.
Flynn's bosses are adamant about not using artifacts for personal gain. They won't even use the Philosopher's Stone to help their meager budget.
Cool Loser: Absurdly smart, surprisingly funny, Noah Wyle-level cute, earnest, usually polite... and still lives with his mother?
Global financial crisis, natch.
Plus, he was a perpetual student until the first movie. Then when he got a job, he had to travel all over the world all the time so why bother moving?
Cool Sword: Flynn gets swordfighting lessons from Excalibur.
Extranormal Institute: Particularly in the third movie, when the magic of working in the Library has completely worn off for Flynn. Also Jane Curtin's character throughout all three—her most pressing concern is that Flynn saves his receipts while he's off saving the Crystal Skull or whatever he's been sent to retrieve.
Sonya Walger, Penny Whitmore from LOST, enjoyed the Bond Girl role in the first film.
Historical In-Joke: A number of them, mostly in the form of the objects kept safe in The Library, but also notable is the retconning of the Library at Alexandria into the original Library where ancient treasures were stored.
Idiot Ball: When Flynn picks it up, he starts jumping up and down on an unstable bridge of made of rotted wood.
Or mixes his own gunpowder out of old damp materials to use a 200-year-old cannon and Newton's Third Law to bust down a thick reinforced door... as opposed to going out the perfectly ordinary glass windows we can see right behind him.
Jumping through a broken glass window? Into a New Orleans swamp? Sure, go ahead!
Averted because Flynn was with a vampire who hadn't fed in 24 hours - last thing he'd want to do in that instance is jump through a window and get cut... Also, the windows were stained glass, not regular glass so they may not have been working windows.
So, breaking the glass before jumping was not an option?
Sure, breaking the glass and cast-iron framework was totally an option.
I Minored in Tropology: Flynn has studied just about everything you can imagine and everything he could possibly need to know (plus a good deal that he presumably doesn't need). He refers to Master's and PhD theses, rather than the more standard "I minored in 'X'" line, but the principle's the same.
Justified, as Flynn is in his thirties, and has been a perpetual college student for long enough to have at least a dozen different degrees.
I Never Said It Was Poison: At the end of the second movie, Flynn asks Judson if he inserted himself into the vision that he'd experienced earlier. Judson denies having the power to such things... but he mentions a detail of the vision in the process. Flynn notices this immediately.
Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires in the third movie can get sick with human diseases. They also temporarily die when killed before coming back to life.
Public Domain Artifact: The Library has a huge collection of these, including HG Wells' time machine, Jason's Golden Fleece, Excalibur (which is apparently a Living Weapon), the Holy Grail, Poseidon's Trident, Pandora's Box, the Ark of the Covenant, and a whole slew of others. Basically? You name it, they have it.
Also among which is a working jetpack. Apparently it's a rite of passage for each Librarian to come across it, try to use it, and spend the next several minutes chasing the thing down.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Nicole Noone doesn't appear as a character in the second film because the actress was working on Boston Legal.
Seen It All: Judson, to a degree. He doesn't seem surprised at half of the questions Flynn has, and notes that it normally takes a new Librarian a while to find the jetpack and set it off. Flynn did it in record time.
Sherlock Scan: This is how the main character gets his job - he scans his boss, determining that she was recently divorced from the depth of the ring-line on her finger and noting that she had three cats by being able to tell their hairs apart on her jacket. He occasionally does this to other characters as well.
Actually, he gets the job because he says something along the lines of "It's not what you know in here [brain], but in here [heart] that counts."
Shout-Out: Both to real-life in Curse of the Judas Chalice, with a twist.
Flynn's vacation to New Orleans was a love letter to the audience by the director for the restored city, severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina two years prior.
Driving the point home, during a montage of Flynn and Simone's first evening together, exploring the delights of the French Quarter, briefly appears a musician on a saxophone — the movie's director, Jonathan Frakes, (who does play the sax in real-life), with a out-of-universe shout out to his character, Commander Riker, from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The Smart Guy: The entire premise is that the world's most important and dangerous position outright requires occupation by the ultimate Smart Guy, or on occasion, the ultimate Smart Girl.
Soft Water: In the first movie, Nicole and Flynn fall a few hundred metres down a cliff then seconds later down a waterfall without injury.
Took a Level in Badass: In the second and third episode Flynn is portrayed to be smarter and stronger than he was in the first movie, especially how he defeats his opponents.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Not only does no one in a hotel seem unduly surprised when Carsen walks up to the front desk in a bedsheet, but two gentlemen who are watching TV don't bat an eye when Judson pre-empts their program to have a two-way conversation with him via the lobby's television set.