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TNT (ended 2015)

Legends S01E01: "Pilot"


One of the great things about television is the mix of comfort and excitement that comes with know that once a week, you get to spend time with actors you like. Their charm and skill can go such a long way, even in the most thankless or boring roles, that we as viewers probably take them for granted. The debut of TNT's new spy thriller Legends brought that feeling to the forefront of my mind even more than usual, because we never get to spend enough time with Sean Bean. You know, one does not simply get to watch a show where his character lives and all that. 

The good news about Legends' first episode is that it was fully aware of our society's need for a more stable and consistent Sean Bean fix. It was an opening hour defined almost exclusively by how awesome is to have Bean playing a highly intelligent, incredibly tough super-spy on TV every week. As the show began and we met Martin Odum, the character was in deep with a domestic extremist terrorist group, fully consumed by his cover—or "legend," as the show, which is based on a Robert Littell novel, refers to them—but totally ready to kick ass, save his informant (Brad Henke), and chew out the ATF for blowing up his six-month op. Then Legends did that pilot-y thing where all of the non-Odum characters discussed how amazing the guy is—or, conversely, how he might be "losing it," simply because he's been doing this very difficult job for far too long. Altogether, the first 15 minutes of the episode broadcasted to the audience, "Don't worry everybody, Sean Bean isn't going to die! And check out how cool his character is!" 

To his credit, Bean was up to the task; playing a character who is playing a character isn't nearly as easy as he made it look. Thankfully, someone on the production staff made the truly great and rational decision to let Bean use his natural accent for the character's default speaking voice—even though the pilot had to include some dumb throwaway line about how he was raised abroad and thus "picked up" the accent, the result was that Bean was more effective in the moments when Odum slipped into his broken-down American hillbilly-ish "legend," Lincoln Dittmann. (Throwing glasses on him helped too, because WHAT A NERD, right?) I wouldn't necessarily call this an overly challenging role for a veteran actor like Bean, but he brought the right amount of pathos and ethos to a man who has indeed spent too much time in the field and can't quite "manage" real life, despite the fact that he clearly loves his family. And while believability isn't usually an issue for me when I'm watching shows like this, it certainly wasn't that hard to imagine Odum being as wonderful as everyone said he was because in Bean's hands, the character looked both entirely competent and extremely worn down. 


In some regard, Legends purposefully didn't give Bean much to work with. While the series is definitely going to proceed as procedural-style show with a clear story engine, the big overarching "mystery" revolves exclusively around Odum's identity, and whether or not it's actually the baseline. Billy Brown showed up briefly to scare Odum into trying to remember something about his past, and wouldn't you know it, both Brown's disheveled informant and one of Odum's the tech nerds were murdered for trying to dig into whatever that something might be. If you're familiar with The Bourne Identity or any number of other spy stories, the seeds that were sown during this first hour won't seem particularly novel. Nevertheless, the reason that stories about "real identities," black-ops programs, and possible government conspiracies work so well—at least for a while—is that there are always a dozen different directions in which the rabbit hole could lead. The result is a high degree of paranoia that shows can use to their advantage, and given Legends' creative pedigree24/Homeland producer Howard Gordon helped shepherd the project to air, along with Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Mark Bomback—I'm confident that the mystery of who Odum is and how he ended up in this position could yield some fun, twisty, summer storytelling. 

The problem is that if the pilot is any indication of what Legends is going to look like each week, we might have to suffer through some pretty generic stuff to get to the Sean Bean of it all. Don't get me wrong, there's a fine cast here: Steve Harris (The Practice) is the man in charge; Ali Larter (Heroes)'s Crystal is also sort of in charge, and she has some sexual history with Odum; Tina Majorino (Veronica Mars) is playing the Tina Majorino tech girl role; and Morris Chestnut is supposed to show up sooner rather than later. That's a rock-solid crew of professionals, but they're all playing significantly generic types that, at least as of the pilot, exist solely to serve Odum. Larter had a couple of decent moments, one of which of course required her to strip down—almost literally, as she went undercover as a stripper—and frankly, she's perfect for a role like this. Yet, while that kind of characterization is to be expected in Episode 1, Legends is the kind of show where, given its premise and its network, you can safely assume that each episode will follow a similar pattern: Bean first, case second, everyone else third and beyond. That's okay, but with this caliber of performer? More, please.


That same sort of generic detail was on display with the case. Though Odum had been undercover for six months, the pilot kicked off right as the operation imploded and then didn't have a really strong story to tell about the clean-up effort, which involved taking down the "founding father" (played by Zeljko Ivanek). A couple of staid torture scenes here, a gun showdown there, and boom, it was over. What's the harm in having an undercover operation unspool over one hour of television? Years ago, Wiseguy pulled it off for a bit, so we know it can be done! 

As tends to happen with crime-y procedurals on basic cable, there's not a lot to actively dislike about Legends. Really, this was one of the better TNT pilots I've seen in recent years, mostly because of the cast and because, in contrast to shows like King & Maxwell, it didn't try too hard to be "witty" or to fill its scenes with "banter." Legends is a straightforward spy drama, and in a world of forensic crime procedurals, it has a real value. Sean Bean is as great as you'd expect. Now let's hope that future episodes take a few more risks and give the supporting cast a bit more to do.


NOTES

– Odum has been doing this job for so long that he sometimes shifts into legend mode at random, even when he's just trying to have a normal conversation. Okay, sure.

– There was a brief moment with Odum and Majorino's character that implied some kind of unknown connection between them. Something to look out for.

– This didn't feel like a particularly expensive pilot to me; if it was, it didn't come through on the screen. Lotta interior sets, and the climax of the episode suggested a bombing at a major G7 summit, only for things to come to an end in a warehouse setting. It'll be too bad if the show can't really "go" anywhere with its stories.


What'd you think? Will you be back for Episode 2?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 12/28/2015

Season 2 : Episode 10

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Not bad I would compare it to the last season of 24 but it needs to take more risks I agree with the above review. Sean Bean is good but he not helped by the ordinary support cast Ali Larter playing the Heroes role and one dimensional nerdies. It might end up going like Intelligence as a sub standard spy thriller series which is a shame as the mystery around the Legends is interesting.
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When it comes to shows I don't know anything about, it's usually 50/50 whether or not they make it through my trial run. One way to improve those odds, first, cast Sean Bean and then have him act his face off...almost literally.

I don't know if it's an easy acting trick or quality editing, but seeing an actor flip from one character to another always inpresses the hell out of me. Tatiana Maslany is the reigning queen, but after this, Mr Bean (no, not that one) is her king. Hopefully his reign is longer than Ned Stark's.

I know nothing of the books. And after watching the first 5 episodes, I'm worried that there's not going to be enough substance to maintain the story while giving Bean an excuse to jump from one legend to another. But frankly, I don't care. After the scene where he slips from Martin Odum to Lincoln Dittmann, I was hooked and I'll be riding this show for however long it lasts.
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I enjoyed the pilot, but I was honestly expecting the storyline with the People's Army of Virgina to extend for several episodes, or perhaps the entire season. If the entire premise of the show is going to be revolving around Sean Bean going *deep* undercover, he needs to actually be there long enough for it to work. The pilot got away with it by having that 6 month buffer prior to the series, but now if they are going to have undercover operations that are much more short-term (read: in a single episode, covering a week), then I fail to see how this would differ from something like Graceland, where they are undercover operatives, but much more short term.
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"Thankfully, someone on the production staff made the truly great and rational decision to let Bean use his natural accent"

Someone doesn't know their accents, he wasn't using his natural accent in Legends, he was using some contrived television Londony accent, Sean's from Sheffield, very different accent in the north and in particular Sheffield. Try youtubing a Kell Brook interview you'll need subtitles ;)

And yes I also noticed his hair seemed "assisted" at some points.

That said wife and I really enjoyed it and will certainly keep watching.
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It was interesting enough to get at least the 4 ep test!
Sean Bean was indeed excellent!
I don't know if he's going to die soon or not... but we know for sure that he dies amazingly well!
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It wasn't a bad show it just feels like they don't really know who the arch nemesis group of bad guys is going to be.
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I still refuse to believe that he will make it through the season. I don't want to feel safe.
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For those who are still worried, I am 100% sure Sean Bean is not going to die in this one. The whole show is about him. You can say he is the only main lead here.

He is great as always. The show however is not. We have seen it too many times. The pilot was enough to keep me watching. I just hope it will not get worse than this.

Love Ali Carter and it helps to have her here.
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I liked it. It didn't feel like a TNT show, which is a good thing.
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It was ok, but I'm far from sold on this series! I didn't see anything I not seen before yet!
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this was just Mehhhh, ant that's too bad. Sean Bean is a great actor - but he ends up dead most of the time, and to add insult to injury, when he lands a lead in ta tv series were he most likely is not going to die, the writing just sucks!!!!!
This was a mediocre pilot at best....
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So far so good. Liking the show, apart from his support team. I mean c'mon..they are practicly kids..
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I clicked on the pocture because it looks like life's been hard on Daniel Jackson.
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Indeed.
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really hope Sean will outlast episode 9 this time. lmao
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show has the same problem too many of these things do. I have seen this tale told many times but S.Bean brings serious acting chops to this one. Problem is this story has been told too many times already and he seems too clever by far compared to his foes. Too bad - 'cause I was really looking forward to this one
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I liked it. Interesting premise, compelling characters, and, well, Sean Bean.

The only thing that bothered me a little was that even though they went really hard on the "he identifies with his covers so much he sometimes becomes them" stuff (signing checks in their name, etc), it actually took him two seconds tops to turn around and shoot the bad guys when his cover was blown, multiple times. That was a bit weird, then again, I never worked undercover so who knows how these things work in real life.

All in all a great start, looking forward to the next episode.
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...and then he immediately yelled at other people for blowing his cover. Stay in it for at least a couple of minutes dawg!
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Im cautious after the last shit..
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So which episode does Sean Bean die... should start taking bets or will he surprise me and SURVIVE an entire season

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Alias, POI, Fringe, Marvels Agents of Shield...etc it ain't. Just can't really put a finger on it. Too many moving parts too early to tell.
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Agents of shield sucked in the beginning. The English girl was worth watching.
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I don't care how his name is actually pronounced, I will always say "Seeeeean Beeeeeean" because it's hilarious.
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Exactly what I expected to be The Bean Identity, I really like it, i'll see it to the end
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It was what I expected, and pretty much what I was hoping for, but nothing more. Definitely has room to grow and become a great series, or if it sputters around for a while it'll die off rather quickly. I kind of liken it to "Awake" a little bit. I thought Awake was very close to a great show, might have even been great, but by the time it got there nobody was still watching it.

Bean was very good, and I actually liked the supporting cast even though their roles were minimal.

Plot speculation: So.. are we supposed to think Bean went into his "original" Legend and killed Bobby? Seems too obvious, but that's what I got from it. Though I guess it could have been the same
chick who gutted his homeless friend.
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Thought all the acting by pretty much every non-Sean Bean cast member was groan-inducing. Gave this a watch purely for the Bean of it, but I can't see myself coming back for more.
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This was totally TNT fare, i.e., okay but just okay. Very by-the-numbers undercover/spy stuff (IMO). If not for the hints of the uberplot, I would say it was utterly generic and thus forgettable. It might still end up being forgettable/forgotten despite the Big Mystery. Pretty decent cast, though. I really hope they're given better material with which to work in the future, but the fact that it's on TNT diminishes that hope a lot.

Its strongest feature may be the certainty that Bean will not die, which is definitely something not seen for a long time.

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I am fairly convinced Ali Larter wants to be a stripper as her deep down fantasy. Every showrunner knows that, "Hey Ali, I have this scene where you need to take off..." - and Ali just nods her head enthusiastically.

Which I am totally fine with.
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Well she does crave attention ;) Keeping up with the Larter just doesn't sound right.
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I haven't seen Ali Larter for a while, but I'll say I was very happy to learn that she still looks very good.
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Bah her acting is so wooden though.
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Although you just threw me a hanging curve ball giving me the word "Wood" to work with ... the bat remains on my shoulder. ;p
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The first thing that came to mind was Heroes - where her intro was as an internet stripper. But I seem to recall that NAKED is a "go to" for her. And like you Cory - I am certainly not complaining. She looks great.

And that was a great review. I liked it but it has the potential for so much more with that cast and creative pedigree. Pilots can be rough around the edges. Definitely looking forward to this one. Hopefully more like Season 1 Homeland and the best of 24 then later seasons of either.

Although - i think 24 might have a rebirth with Kate as the central character. And Homeland will be a different show without Brody.
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I'll be curious to see how much Gordon is actually involved moving forward. I'm guessing the answer is "not much," which could easily make the show worse as it goes along.
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Become another Bruckheimer or JJ Abrams and just have that "Executive Producer" title. I hope not
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It's on TNT expectations should remain low at all times.
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I don't consider myself a Sean Bean "fan", but I really enjoyed him in this. Also Tina Majorino! Always happy to see her, though I hope her character gets to do more than just desk jockey and talk "tech". But how did I not recognize Ali Larter? (That last season of Heroes must have been more traumatic than I thought.)

Count me as optimistic but still giving it the "4 episode test".
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Seriously? Does Zeljko Ivanek have to show up in everything I watch?
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I was hoping for more but good news for you, he won't be in the next episode.
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He's a pretty good actor, where is the harm in that?
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He's phenomenal and totally unsung.
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I don't know if it's just me, but he looks sick--pale and gaunt. I don't think it's the character but he looked sick on Suits, too.
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He's getting on in age. He could have developed some issues healthwise I guess. With notable actors dropping like flies, I see why you'd mention such a thing. The fact that he's still working kind of indicates that he's still got some fire in him.

I don't know if you've ever seen Black Rain, but the primary antagonist was played by Yūsaku Matsuda who was being treated for cancer. He kind of looked sickly, and it was the last role he played. Still on of my favorite movies.
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I was just coming here to say that. He was literally on at the same time during Suits.

My Zeljko Ivanek fix is has turned into a hangover. At least he won't be beck on Banshee
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Ivanek went tactical on The Event. Thats one of the reasons I liked it. He was good too. He normally plays stiff suits like Governor James Devlin.
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His role on the Americans was a little different. He wasn't play the smug bad guy, but instead he was a Vietnam vet with PTSD. And he played it well
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Currently I'd rather watch suits, but that might be changing.
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Yea he's know for getting killed off ala Revolution. However, he's still on Suits.
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I have honestly lost track of everything I have seen him pop up in. Good for him and his career. But he sure does play the exact same part. Except on the Americans ...kind of.
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is has ... beck on Banshee

I really do have a hangover
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I will never get tired of the 'One does not simply' meme. It's like Yoda memes. They never go out of style.
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"One does not simply" is the stupidest mem ever. Congratulations on being its fan.


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"This review is not f-f-f-fair... What?"
"You stuttered and then your accent changed!"

Of course Sean Bean is the Numero Uno in this show, it ain't called Legends Crime Investigation Unit: Los Angeles, Legends and Order SVU or Legends Tactical Unit Miami.
He's the monkey piloting this particular rocket and they're Houston Ground Control and they nearly get him killed twice. Do I want to see the techie chick arguing with her boyfriend at Starbucks before going to work and treating one of the most seasoned and naturally gifted undercover operatives like he's an equal or like he's there to fix the copy machine? Hell no! Was it called Jason Bourne and Marie Kruetz Identity? Of course not she was flashback dead before Ultimatum because she can't consistently be looking at Bourne scared and in awe every movie.

In fact if everyone on the show other than Sean Bean risks being offed like the characters on Spooks (called MI5 in US apparently) I couldn't be less happy. Couple all this with the fact that his identity as Martin Odum may be itself be a Legend and seems as fragile as his mental state why would I need a cast to be more than be satellites for the man who is also the mystery?

Show doesn't need to go 24 with everyone at the CTU being an agent, double agent or head splitting double double agent with long over convoluted cases, a procedural with Martin calling bullshit on deadman's trigger was cool and we got some overarching identity mystery while next week he's a Chinese Triad gang member foiling an opium import :-)

More+
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I rated an 8.0. I thought it was good, not great for a pilot. Of course this type of government conspiracy plot, has been done before. And the "southern bigot terrorists" story, is getting old.

I read somewhere, that there are only 7 stories in the world. It's all about how you present them, the makes them fresh. I love spy thrillers, and Sean Bean is a good actor, so i'm willing to give this show a chance.
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Personally I prefer the Southern bigot terrorist storyline... over what TV shows normally rely on (Middle Eastern Terrorists)

We don't see it THAT much on TV anymore... they normally go the Middle-Eastern route.

Back in the day, like 20 years ago, the Southern Militia Group was the go-to for crime TV shows. But something obviously changed the public's focus
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Those southern bigots seems more like montana malitia men. They may have still been bigots though, but they wouldve killed bean for getting the dialect wrong.
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With world events being what they are at the moment, writers can soon return to their time-honored favorite: Russians. I think they've used M-E terrorists only because they seemed the most plausible in recent years, but they're definitely less comfortable with that idea than the old standby.
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*that makes them fresh.
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is Sean Bean gonna die in here?
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why cast Sean Bean if he's not?
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I hear a lot of griping about lack of originality, but given the general lack of it in most TV & Movies of late (can you say Marvel Comics), I'm just happy to see a good cast with some decent material to work with (unlike Extant). I really liked the pilot, and if the show continues at the pace it established, I'll be happy. I do agree with Cory that I'd like to see the supporting cast do more than prop up the main character. Ali Larter would be a great dark-side character if she's in on the overarching true identity theme, and Tina Majorino could be much more than "that techie chick". Hopefully the season will bear me out.
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So no new episode this week? Last week was some special preview or something? A 2 week wait for an episode 2 of a show i only kinda want to see is unnatural.
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Yea it was an on-demand early screening. The series will probably prove to be much better than the premiere
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You saw it early? Did you watch on demand?
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You must learn the power of the internet.
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The scene capped this a full week ago so it must have come from OD or a sneak preview airing.
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The good thing about this show is Sean Bean looks to be around for a long time. Even if he were to die, it'd probably be referring to one of his "legends" dying after an operation and not the actual person. all in all, a solid start to a Bourne-esque story.
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Doesn't sound like my thing at all, but I've always loved Sean Bean so I guess I'll be watching.
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I liked it.
It's really not very original, but - hey! - I got a man crush on Beansy...

In other news,
child actor caught looking straight into the camera:

:)
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Props for the frame grab and your Rick avatar.

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Nice catch. In other news, child actor replaced on new show "Legends"

Psssst...kid....ACTING
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A quite enjoyed the pilot when I saw it last week. I'm not quite sure where the show is going, but I like Sean Bean, so I'm probably prepared to give it more of a go than I would if I didn't know the main guy.
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Ok premiere. Saw it a few days ago. Bean's accent as an undercover malitia man, sounded more like some dorky 8th grader from connecticut. Not credible at all. Stone Cold Steve Austin shouldve did a voice over.
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Lol where has stone cold been anyways.
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He's been on Steve Austin's Broken Skull Challenge. Google it, there's probably a couple episodes on youtube or hulu. It's like a reality strength/endurance competition with guys and girls running obstacle courses and wrestling and stuff. Kinda like American Ninja Warrior on Spike TV. I like it. I didnt think I would.
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Spoiler: He dies!
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Does he keep his head at least?
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I'm starting to realize I have a, or I should say another pet peeve. What's with the friggin wigs?? I couldn't stand the Blacklist bc of that awful wig on the lead. I do think the wig in The Strain is done properly though but here we go again... Why the wig? And what happen to the make-up & hair department/people? Does wigs now have a union in Hollywood?
It's so shallow of me and that notion is almost as irritating as the wigs.
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Who had a wig on? Legitimate question.
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Sean Bean, maybe not a wig tho but plugs for sure. I'm shallow, I see stuff like that ;)
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None of the characters you mentioned have wigs.... Am I crazy here?
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Oh c'mon. Corey Stoll (the Strain) is balder than the bald eagle. And as kanniballl mentioned Ms Boone wore such a bad wig for the first couple of episodes, she did get a better one - maybe extensions? - later on in season 1. And Sean Bean might not wear a wig but he has plugs in for sure, I thought it was just for his UC assignment but it seems constant. Hating it.
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The lead on the Blacklist wears one.

Megan Boone, who plays Elizabeth Keen, has a nice short hairstyle. One that I IMAGINE would be more practical for a federal agent that historically shows is constantly getting into trouble.

But... the showrunners make her wear a wig of long hair.
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what wig are you referring to? doesnt sean bean have all his hair?
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I don't think it's a wig actually - I'm not only shallow I exaggerate too ;) - but plugs. Look at the hairline when he's UC, looks terrible. I thought it maybe were just for the UC op but he must've gotten plugs IRL or something
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I agree MorbidPet! That was a terrible wig or toupe. Quite honestly it was very distracting. The hair and makeup crew should be fired. He's a good looking guy who looked ridiculous with that poorly laid rug!
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I wasnt really paying all that much attention to the hair because of the ridiculous, horrendous and blatantly fake american accent he spoke with as an undercover.

I'll pay more attention next time.
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Ha. True. I'm sure you weren't the only one irked about that.
I was just looking forward to seeing Sean survive a pilot but those plugs irritated the hell out of me. I'll give him/the show a few more episodes tho, big fan of Tina Majorino & the rest of the cast weren't all that bad either. I survived the horrendous wig in Blacklist so let's see if I'll survive the plugs ;)
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