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TV Series Review

Being an undercover operative would be the pits.

Let's set aside all the obvious issues like being discovered and killed and all that. Just ponder the logistics: First, you've got to be an entirely fake person—maybe even several fake people, if you're really good. And all those fake people would need real stuff: cars and jobs and bank accounts. And how do you, Mr. or Mrs. Fakery, keep track of all those IDs and passwords for your fake identity, hmmm? I can barely handle the 27 passwords I have for my real self, much less if I added another 27 for fake offshore accounts and Facebook pages. Man, it took me 10 minutes to find my car keys this morning—and I only have one set. You think I could be trusted to keep track of an entirely new believable-yet-fraudulent human?

It's a truly rare person who can be a quality undercover operative—to create "legends," as they're called, out of the ether. Martin Odum is one of those few. Martin is a top FBI mole, able to change his person like most of us change socks. Give the guy a little hair gel and he's an aging punk rocker, a pair of specs and he's a Wall Street honcho. Sure, he wouldn't make a believable boy band crooner—but there's only so much a fiftysomething FBI operative can be expected to do.

This is one master of subterfuge who is so good at what he does that sometimes even he can be fooled.

I'm not kidding. While Martin's undeniably gifted, he's also a teensy bit unhinged. He has a tendency to morph into his characters too easily and too deeply. He's even been known to sign alimony checks to his ex, Sonya, using one fake name or another. And now he's not even sure whether he's Martin Odum to begin with: Some mysterious guy just told him his entire life may be yet another legend.

The team of agents who surround our hero try to keep him on task. Crystal serves as his handler (and one-time lover). Maggie and Troy fill in the chinks of tech and ground support. Nelson oversees them all. So are these folks Martin's workmates? Friends? Shadowy watchdogs? Who knows? But if things get too weird at the office, Martin can always go and spend some quality time with his adoring son, Aiden ... who may or may not be his son.

Despite all this mystery, TNT's Legends still feels like a fairly straightforward show. This is no high-prestige drama, determined to rack up scads of Emmy nods while throwing Game of Thrones-level sex and violence onto the screen. Nor is it a trite-if-clean lark fit for the whole family. There's piles of violence, but no organs falling to the ground. There's sexual content, but no bare breasts. There's foul language (that can even include the occasional s-word), but it's not obscenely unremitting.

But if Legends doesn't outright push the envelope, it doesn't give us much incentive to open it up, either. While Martin and his "team" display quantities of courage and comradery, there don't seem to be too many deep themes waiting for exploration here, no grand lessons on the verge of being taught.

Anchored by British actor Sean Bean—a fantasy fan favorite for his work in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as HBO's Game of ThronesLegends' early publicity has revolved around a campaign designed to convince the show's writers not to "kill" the oft-offed actor. The hashtag #dontkillseanbean made the rounds on Twitter, and several celebrities, including 24's Kiefer Sutherland and Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, have been seen sporting T-shirts bearing the slogan. Bean himself made a promotional video for the website Funny or Die in which he eventually "encourages" TNT to kill him off by way of piranha.

Personally, I'd like to see Sean Bean survive the series. No actor should have to perform a death scene in everything he does, especially not an actor as good as he. But when it comes to a long life for Legends itself ... well, I'm not so sure I'll be rooting for that.

Maybe one of my other selves will have to, but I won't.

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Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

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Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

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Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

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Episode Reviews

Legends: 8-19-2014
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