Byline: Ted Cox Daily Herald TV/Radio Columnist
Most TV stars look to move up to feature films when they leave a successful show. Sometimes it pays off. (See Sexiest Man Alive George Clooney and his female counterpart, Jessica Biel.) Sometimes it turns out to be a rash decision. (Hello, David Caruso.)
Noah Wyle, however, has gone in the opposite direction, from the stately "ER," where he was the senior cast member by the time he left last season, to "The Librarian," a comparatively silly movie series he's done for TNT.
To his credit, it's not just work for hire. This is a pet project for Wyle, who serves as producer, and that actually works in his favor. Wyle could have moved on to try feature films or at least a ponderous star-vehicle TV series on NBC or CBS. In fact, he still could. For now, however, he's devoted himself to this comical made-for-cable Indiana Jones knockoff, and the distinct lack of ambition makes him an even more amiable presence than he was on "ER." For all its flaws, "The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines," the sequel to 2004's "Quest for the Spear," works as family entertainment when it debuts at 7 p.m. Sunday on TNT.
"The Librarian" is sort of a poor man's Indiana Jones, even if the production values and direction (here by former "Star Trek: The Next Generation" trouper Jonathan Frakes) is impressive by TV standards. Wyle plays Flynn Carson, who runs a secretive library where some of the most famous items in history are stored. You know: The Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant (apparently shrunken and salvaged from the government depository at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark"), Poseidon's trident, they're all hidden away in the basement. In fact, in the manner of Inspector Clouseau's sidekick Cato, the sword Excalibur flies through the air attacking Flynn whenever he enters, just to keep him on his toes. When he reaches out for something to mop the sweat from his brow, he inadvertently snatches the Shroud of Turin.
Wyle isn't the most adept comic actor, and neither is he an action hero on the order of Harrison Ford. Yet those limitations actually serve him well as he trots the globe looking, in this case, for the mythical treasure stored away in King Solomon's Mines. He also gets able comic support from Jane Curtin as his boss and Bob Newhart as the mystical library caretaker, as well as Olympia Dukakis as his mother. Out in the field, he is joined by Gabrielle Anwar as Emily Davenport, a like-minded academic and reluctant action heroine.
Nobody acts very hard - nobody except Robert Foxworth as a very undisguised villain, that is. …