Any fan of Sean Bean will probably be pretty quick to tell you that this is a new kind of character portrayal for the man that goes above, beyond and below anything he’s ever done. He’s almost unrecognizable.
Tuning in to the Legends series premiere on TNT, I came into it with a humorous overtone in my head, despite the morbid or serious nature of the show. At San Diego Comic-Con, some of the print advertising floating around on buildings included the hashtag #dontkillseanbean. And any fan of Sean will know what that means and have a chuckle to themselves.
But early TV ratings are suggesting that this new baffled spy series isn’t the mega hit I’m sure TNT was hoping for. Legends is being compared to The Last Ship’s premiere and it’s only pulled in half the numbers of the floating military action drama.
They’re also quoting how many viewers it pulled in from two screenings rather than the single premiere episode, and there’s strained hope as other reports are noting how the numbers are bound to go up from Live +7 viewer numbers.
All of the above are hints that the show wasn’t as big of a hit as anyone had hoped. Despite all the marketing spin that the show was from one of the powerhouses behind 24 and Homeland.
And to be honest, I get it.
Legends is about a man named Martin Odum (Bean) who is a talented deep-cover agent for the FBI. But part of that deep-cover talent spills out into being a little bonkers from being undercover and having a real life. As in, when signing a check for his real-life, he puts his undercover name instead. (Wait? Who signs checks any more?)
Typical Risk Taker: As you followed the first episode you watch a number of extremely crazy risks that Odum takes while he’s undercover and his trying to deal with his “real life” while the rest of the action takes place around him.
It’s an interesting balancing act to say the least.
Typical Tension: Throw in the concerns of Odum’s peers as to his psychological profile stating how dangerous and unfit he is for duty. But they’re reminded by his boss that out of all the shrinks, one said he is the most gifted man for undercover work.
Typical Skin: Ali Larter plays Crystal Quest, his partner or overseeing agent. And the show steps right up with the sexy quota for the television viewing audience as she has to jump right in as a seedy club stripper, lap dance and all, to help deliver a message to Odum, who is back under his cover.
Typical BOURNE?: Then there’s the other, underlying plot about who is might really be.
Odum’s first assignment almost went belly up, but everyone managed to salvage it to some degree, as he finally musters up a meeting with the big boss behind his quarry (of the week?). But Odum notices he’s being followed and when he confronts the mysterious stranger, he gets a bombshell dropped on him, hinting that Odum is not who he thinks he is.
Odum’s (Bean’s) different persona modes is pretty fun to see, if anything. He has the gamut covered, from a desperate, brain dead gun-toting militia enthusiast; a depressed, dead-pan ex-husband; and finally Odum, the FBI agent who doesn’t need a partner or overseeing staff, when in the office.
And the bombshell of it all is what the mysterious stranger tells him, “You really think you’re Martin Odum? There is no Martin Odum. He’s a legend. Everything about him is fake.”
To add to the conundrums of the mystery, a peer Odum asks to try to identify the mystery man is murdered while doing his computer sleuth thing and of course, while waiting to meet Odum, our mystery informant finds himself stabbed to death by a beautiful assassin. (OK, maybe he doesn’t find himself dead… that’s an entirely different genre!)
Other recurring cast members in this spy mystery mystery include Tina Majorino, Amber Valletta, Morris Chestnut, Mason Cook, and Steve Harris.
To be honest, we have a different kind of Sean Bean in Legends, and that’s great. But then the show sends up some typical warning flags for a pilot episode when we get the standard character demonstration from third parties, we see how over-the-edge stupid crazy Odum can be, we got the flash of skin from a sexy woman out there, and we now have the Bourne conundrum of not being sure who he really is now. Or could we stretch this even further by connecting similarities to the Douglas Quaid character in Total Recall? Or even how many layers deep in a dream (undercover) world can you go without losing yourself? As in Christopher Nolan’s Inception.
Which story is going to be the compelling story? The weekly assignment or the lurking background issue as he tries to uncover what this mystery about himself is all about?
I still have not felt a solid read from Odum, and I’m worried that the weekly assignment (if there is one) will only be a distraction from his own mystery. Plus, in the “entire season” preview we received at the end of the pilot episode, we see that the beautiful assassin is in Odum’s arms ?
Sadly, so far, Legends seems fairly typical and hasn’t honestly grabbed my solid attention yet. But I’ll give it another episode or two, just in case. Besides, I almost want to see why he’s kissing that super-secret other-agent killer woman. Don’t we? Maybe.