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Hercules Deems TNT’s LEGENDS, The Latest From HOMELAND Creator Howard Gordon, Less Than Legendary!!

I am – Hercules!!

A decent enough undercover FBI action drama loosely based on the 2005 novel by Robert Littell, “Legends” comes to us from prolific writer-producer Howard Gordon, who wrote for “The X-Files,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” before he became the showrunner on “24” and “Awake” and adapted “Homeland” and “Tyrant” for American television.

Sean Bean plays FBI agent Martin Odum, a divorced dad whose work has him submerging himself deeply into alternate personas over long periods of time. As he works to thwart a variety of evildoers from episode to episode, he starts receiving dramatic hints that suggest that his “real” self may be no more real than his other identities.

As with all FBI TV dramas, the lead character works with a team. Series regulars include Steve Harris (“The Practice”), Ali Larter (“Heroes”) and Tina Majorino (“Veronica Mars”). Morris Chestnut (“Kick-Ass 2”) plays a less friendly FBI agent who grows increasingly suspicious of Odum.

Though the role of Odum is the kind actors love to use to demonstrate their versatility, I think Bean may be stretching himself a bit too much here. The Yorkshire-born thespian is great at playing vengeful Englishmen and lords of fantasy realms, but may be less convincing as a twerpy redneck. (I find it a bit odd, frankly, that the “chameleon” Odum – allegedly an American who spent some years overseas with his family – still speaks with a European accent when he reverts to “himself.”)

Gordon is a way-above-average storyteller, and I had no difficulty getting through the episodes TNT forwarded for review, but the “Legends” characters don’t pop for me the way they do on “Homeland” and “24,” and the mystery of Odum’s true identity isn’t interesting enough to drag me away from the flood of more compelling non-network hourlongs -- “The Leftovers,” “The Strain,” “Outlander,” “Manhattan,” “Orange Is The New Black” and “The Knick” among them -- already vying for my attention.

Hitfix says:

... a generic crime procedural tricked up with a convoluted mystery meant to add intrigue to the various Undercover Assignments of the Week. …

The New York Times says:

... darker and more violent than the channel’s most successful shows, lightweight crime dramas like “Rizzoli & Isles” and “Major Crimes.” Presumably “Legends” is meant to seem more serious than those shows and skew more male in its viewership, but it succeeds only in being more mechanical, predictable and thin. …

The Los Angeles Times says:

... wide and solid if somewhat workmanlike …

The Washington Post says:

... the show seems a bit predictably structured, but Bean lends a strong and complex presence to the idea. It’s worth watching for a few more episodes to see where it all leads.…

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:

... [Bean is] absolutely believable as deep-cover FBI agent Martin Odum, who takes on a new character – or “legend” – for each assignment. The show itself is action-packed but less legendary, feeling more like a series audiences have seen plenty of times before.

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

... The potential of that longer story arc, as well as having Bean back on screen with his head reattached to his torso, may be enough to make "Legends" work despite the familiarity of that crime-solving-team template. …

The Boston Herald says:

... Whatever it is, the pieces don’t mix well together. It’s as if somebody dumped out a puzzle box and a cake mix and tried to make a three-layer dessert. You might be able to bake something, but you won’t enjoy the taste. …

The Boston Globe says:

... “Legends” is knee-deep at best, relying on feeble plots of the week and high-tech wizardry that borders on the unintentionally comic. The supporting cast is as shallow as Bean is deep, particularly Ali Larter as team leader Crystal McGuire. The writers of the show, one of whose executive producers is Howard Gordon of “24” and “Homeland,” actually force a scene into the premiere that has Crystal jumping into the character of a lap dancer at a strip club to help Martin — and, more obviously, to give the show a bit of sexiness. It’s just too silly. We are supposed to believe that Crystal and Martin once had a brief fling, and that they may be heading toward another, but they have no chemistry. He’s soulful and troubled, she’s an import from some failed network cop pilot or other. …

TV Guide says:

... The best parts of this otherwise disappointingly generic spy thriller depict Bean burrowing into Martin's psyche as a (what else, and wait for it) legendary FBI deep-cover operative, who commits so fully to his carefully manufactured false identities, or "legends," that he signs alimony checks with his alias's name. …

Variety says:

... Given how Sean Bean left his last series role, it’s nice to see him in one piece on “Legends,” inasmuch as he’s the principal asset barely lifting this TNT drama above its familiar moorings. … while Martin fights a noble battle to keep the world safe and unearth secrets about his past, the series is waging a more mundane struggle that pits its slickness against a lack of originality. So far, it’s not bad. But in the context of today’s raised bar for dramas, it’s not remotely legendary.

The Hollywood Reporter says:

... The pilot is splashy and action-packed, but overall the lack of complexity — and yes, I know I cited that as a plus earlier — makes it less satisfying. …

9 p.m. Wednesday. TNT.

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