This is the start of a weekly Netflix recommendation series. We analyze and go over what hidden gems might be on Netflix (TV or Movie) and why you should be watching!
TNT’s new drama Legends is an interesting mix of NBC’s cult favorite Chuck and FOX’s retired 24. Legends manages to carry all the positive and negative weight of these shows, while expressing its own strengths and faults. Oh, and it has Sean Bean (who doesn’t die!)
Sean Bean stars as FBI Special Agent Martin Odum. Odum has a rare talent, a talent that is used to create legends. Legends, as created in the show’s universe, is an undercover identity, one that is so deep it becomes technically ‘real’. Odum must use these legends to infiltrate organizations and stop them(Duh).
The premise of Legends is sometimes too familiar. It treads closely to the famous NBC serial drama The Pretender. Bean carries out a legend, usually much different than Odum’s life style and personality. In doing so, we get an odd ball of quirks here. While the build up around these legends is usually fascinating, it is hard to see Sean Bean ever stand above them. Another show similarity is Jeffrey Donovan’s portrayal of Michael Westen in USA’s Burn Notice. Donovan would go all out, different accent, style, movement, etc. Here, Bean manages the look (somewhat) but never acts out these characters.
Bean’s team is lead by a pretty uneven cast (so uneven that TNT scraps the entire cast for the second season). Ali Larter is Bean’s immediate supervisor, Agent Crystal McGuire. Larter, like Bean, has a problem elevating her performance. A fair amount of this blame is on the writing that never supports character growth but rather a confrontational, naysayer to Bean’s unconventional methods. Every now and then her character would step out of her one dimensional shoes and usher a line to a married man such as, “Tell your wife you’re taking the night off.” (in the context of an affair)
Steve Harris, Tina Majorino and Morris Chestnut are the other notables. These three provide quality entertainment, from Harris’ always supporting attitude, Majorino’s cute techno-wizardry and Chestnut’s evolving character (who initially was one dimensional). The supporting cast does plenty here to aid to Legends.
The real gem here is the story. Legends fools you in thinking it might be a serial drama. Ya know, the once a week bad guy routine? Here, not so much. Cases or bad guys, are not solved in one episode, nor in one day like most dramas but in a lapse of time, usually over the span of several episodes. This helps build into the character of Odum, who struggles with reality, thanks in part to the deepness of his legends. This also aids to the backstory, which is an over arching theme for the show that ends in a serious of unconventional twists.
Again, Legends has conventional plot elements. Quite a lot of the material is re-tread and feels familiar. That being said, usually the way these situations are handled makes them feel unique. A few times a plot element would look like it was going a conventional, eye rolling way and quickly deterred into its own. Legends does quite this a lot.
Finally, the action sequences are a bit of a hog-wash here. The story nor the cast doesn’t really support an action heavy show but honestly, that’s okay. Sean Bean is the poor man’s Jack Bauer in action sequences, dabbling in both brutal hand to hand and quick, one shot kills. The gun fights are so quick, with the bad guys often falling after a few seconds of conflict. It doesn’t always work but it manages to be entertaining, albeit serviceable.
Legends is a mixed bag of entertainment. Sean Bean feels right at home with the misguided, lost figure but then feels out of place as someone trying to play one too many roles. Legends is a show with faults, even a borderline rip off of some quality shows but it manages to be an involving drama of its own merit. It balances a rather large cast with drama lead by some pretty fascinating twists. This is an entertaining watch.