TNT; BBC

Are The Librarians Just What The Doctor Ordered?

This week's The Librarians invites along a few classic Doctor Who tropes, but did the host get taken over?

The Librarians is undeniably a thick stew of influences from other TV shows, with the blend (and, let's face it, the quality) fluctuating from episode to episode. Among those influences, Doctor Who is certainly in heavy rotation; we even did a side-by-side comparison of two episodes of each show last season. But this week, the Who-Librarians Venn diagram has approached near-circularity, with Noah Wyle's Flynn Carsen stepping into the role of the brilliant, quirky, heroic polymath known as the Doctor -- like he's clearly always wanted to. I'm sure it's no coincidence that this episode was easily among the series' very best to date. Top two, for sure.

To be clear, I'm not saying that "…And The Fangs Of Death" draws heavily on Doctor Who's 21st-century reboot. I'm saying that it draws on the classic Who of decades past. And I'm not just saying it either: I'm prepared to back it up mathematically. What follows is a list of classic Doctor Who elements, and an analysis of whether this episode of The Librarians checked each item off. You might be surprised by the results. But it's more likely that you won't. Now, when I say run…run.

Classic DOCTOR WHO-y Element Present?
A Classic Who-Style Title Old-school Who serial titles often followed a familiar template: "The [item from column A] of [item from column B]." Column A was usually a little more open-ended, comprising anything from abstract nouns (terror, revenge, destiny, genesis) to body parts (hand, mind, face, claws) to, on more than one occasion, seeds. Column B had a little less leeway, and it was almost always something scary (fear, evil, Mars, the Daleks). "Fangs Of Death" fits so well I had to look it up to make sure it didn't already exist.
The Hero Lands Someplace He Didn't Mean To While the TARDIS's lousy steering dates back to Doctor Who's beginnings in 1963, Jenkins's magical back door to anywhere in the world has been a largely reliable element of The Librarians. That is, until Flynn messed around with it to try to locate Charlene and ended up nowhere near her, with the junior Librarians in tow. And then Baird and Jenkins ended up miles from them. I'd check this one with two yeses if I could.
"Base Under Seige" Story Line The Doctor of old showed up at remote but futuristic locations and rescued them from monsters so frequently that he can still pull it off even when he's a ghost of his former self (see last season's "Under The Lake"). Similarly, when Flynn, Cassandra, Jake, and Ezekiel arrive at the supercollider (not in deep space or the distant future, but in Canada), they are almost immediately set upon by deadly creatures with whom they are trapped inside the facility. With no escape available to our heroes, there is no choice but to defeat the monsters who threaten the rapidly dwindling holdouts of humanity. Sounds familiar.
Companions Of Highly Variable Utility Too many of the early Doctors' female companions lived lives alternating between needing things explained to them and screaming while awaiting their next rescue. There were occasional male brawlers like Ben, Jamie, and Harry -- a role that Jake Stone filled nicely this week. In the '80s, annoying or ethically challenged companions like Adric and Turlough laid the groundwork for The Librarians' Ezekiel Jones. But while Cassandra Cillian may still dress like a little girl, she certainly didn't shriek like one this week. She not only made an equal contribution to the team, but used her grown-up voice throughout.
Low-Budget Monsters Rubber suits with visible zippers were often what passed for alien horrors back in the early Who days. Indeed, the low-rent lycanthrope ex-scientists of this week's The Librarians could have loped right out of the 1970 episode "Inferno." Not so the Anubis, an even more laughable CGI throwback that was manifested more convincingly in 1975's "Pyramids Of Mars" on Doctor Who. All of them are resistant to bullets, though.
A High Body Count Not even the Doctor could save everybody, and it wasn't unheard of for him and his friends to be the last people standing. By the same token, tonight's The Librarians had more than this show's usual dose of carnage. Some of the deaths were the result of brave sacrifice and some simple stupidity, which is part of the deal as well. And besides the characters we got to know, every scientist who'd gone werewolf ended up sucked into oblivion. It would have been nice if the half-converted Ezekiel had joined them, but you can't have everything.
Social Commentary On The Hubris Of Man
Many old Who stories were cautionary tales of technology run amok, which was a bit of a contradiction in a series about the wonders science could achieve. The Librarians didn't really make a case for the supercollider being inherently dangerous. Which is fine, because that would have been beside the point.
No Deus Ex Machinae
The whole time Flynn and the Librarians were running from werewolves, we knew that Baird and Jenkins were on their way. And sure enough, Baird arrived just in time to deliver the coup de grace. By contrast, the Doctor and his companions were, almost always, entirely on their own. Mark that as another advantage that Canada has over deep space or the distant future.
The Hero Takes His Leave With A Perfunctory Or Nonexistent Farewell
The Doctor's post-crisis M.O. was, and generally remains, making himself scarce before anyone can ask questions, let alone initiate a lengthy goodbye scene. Much like the way Flynn runs off to become a Charlene-seeking hobo, leaving Baird nothing but a note. At least the message makes her smile with the promise of a vacation. Or maybe, like me, she's smiling because Flynn is gone again.
6 / 9
Final Score
67%
Classic Doctor Who
33%
The Librarians
Almost all readers liked this episode
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