Oct 8, 2015

[TV] Legends: Season 1

Sean Bean has become an actor who is most popular for portraying tragic figures who are bound to die in a movie, even tough he's not necessarily the actor who has played the most dying / dead characters, interestingly enough. But casting him has always become a spoiler in itself - I guess he died really well.

Legends is a TV series where Sean Bean dying is not central to plot. If anything, you could say that his whole character is about being reborn as a new person over and over again. And I don't mean this in a science fiction sense or anything like that. And if I'm not mistaken, some of the early buzz for this show last year focused on the fact that Sean Bean lives. And maybe that's as landmark as it sounds?

The series had a quirky premise that was interesting enough I suppose. But in terms of execution on-screen, something didn't really translate well or perhaps Sean Bean is really meant to die instead of playing all sorts of different people in generally the same way.

Synopsis: Legends is a drama series developed for television by Howard Gordon, Jeffrey Nachmanoff, and Mark Bomback. The story was based on the book Legends: A Novel of Dissimulation by Robert Littell. I'm honestly surprised that this show was given a second season.

Sean Bean plays Martin Odum, an undercover FBI agent who is known for being particularly skilled at embracing new characters and personalities as part of his cover. He doesn't just act well - he practically becomes a different person when he takes on a new cover identity. And this makes him very, very good at his job - people like him are referred to as Legends. But as we see in the very first episode, he continues to see a therapist as required by his role and it's very much possible that he may be losing himself to these roles a bit too much.

His partner for most operations is Crystal McGuire, who is ironically played by Ali Larter. I say ironically since her old character on the original Heroes TV series was all about having multiple personalities within her and yet now she's handling someone who seems to be the one struggling with all these inner personalities vying for control. But yeah, still a little weird but it was kinda nice to see her back in action.

We have Morris Chestnut as agent Tony Rice, and FBI agent who thinks there's something wrong with Martin and starts an investigation into his activities. Naturally, he's a key character in terms of moving the meta-plot forward since it's quite plain as day that there's something wrong with Martin. And we don't really find out more about Rice apart from the fact that he ends up hounding Martin and potentially disrupting some of his deep cover operations.

But going back to Sean Bean, I really don't buy into how he goes about portraying different cover identities. Sure, it's really more of an interior process and maybe his key difference is just being able to think like the person he's posing as. But at the same time you can't help but expect him to behave significantly different in each new role since he's so deep into the story and because this is still a visual entertainment medium. I don't need him doing 1,000 impersonations of people we don't know, but I would appreciate if his acting involved more than a gravely whisper contrasted again louder moments of him in a booming voice or just plain shouting. I think we could have done better here.

The overall story ends up feeling a little confused and rather weak at times. We juggle the case of the week and Martin's new identity for the episode with some running around in the background that either consists of Crystal complaining that Martin isn't cooperating with her or the likes of Rice hot on the trail of a new lead into Martin's past. Throw in yet another mysterious character who starts to hint at a life that Martin may have lost entirely and things just continue to get crazy.

On the whole, Legends just wasn't my thing and maybe things would have been better with a different director or something. I only really finished the season for the sake of this review and to get to the end of the season arc, which still disappointed me. Thus the show gets 2 strange voices Sean Bean tries to use in the show out of a possible 5.


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