Last month at Comic-Con,
Technically, it is not a great sign when network executives think the main reason to watch a new show is the fact that its star is not going to die. But then the mortality rates have gotten pretty high in television of late, and it is
Ever since he played Boromir, the only member of "The Lord of the Rings'" original Fellowship who did not live to see Sauron overthrown, Bean has become, in America anyway, a symbol of high-wattage and untimely death. His Ned Stark was beheaded in the first season of
Bean is clearly the main reason to watch "Legends," the third Howard Gordon-produced venture to hit the flat screen this year. The 10-episode series, based on a book by Robert Littell and premiering Wednesday, has been constructed as a wide and solid if somewhat workmanlike platform for the British actor's considerable talents.
In it, he plays one Martin Odum, an
If this sounds more than slightly familiar, it is. Most story lines dealing with deep cover explore the identity conundrum, and almost every series featuring a super-dedicated professional attaches a wife or husband who "can't stand what the job is doing to you." (My kingdom for a spouse who understands that when you marry a
Gordon and co-creators Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Mark Bomback also quickly inject the possibility that Martin himself is a legend; in the pilot he is stalked by a mysterious man who leaps out of corners to make seemingly paranoid claims about their shared past. (See also "Extant,"
But familiarity needn't always breed contempt; if we have seen this essential narrative before, there's a reason: It's a good one. As Tatiana Maslany continues to prove on "Orphan Black," there is nothing more astonishing than watching an actor practice his or her craft on multiple levels. Not everyone can do it, as we learn each and every television season, but Bean most certainly can. Whether his cases will keep up with his characters remains to be seen.
The pilot of a big-concept show is often an expositional chore, and "Legends" has more To Dos to check off than most. Although Martin is patently lone-wolf, he is a member of a task force (who isn't these days?), and they must be introduced: Crystal McGuire ("Hero's"
There's also the ex-wife, played in frowning high dudgeon by
The supporting players all circle Martin like so many magician's assistants while he makes his miraculous transformation; as time goes on, one hopes that some will emerge as more than transition providers and human scenery (with any luck, Majorino's Maggie will become Martin's Chloe à la