Review: TNT's 'Legends'

TNT’s Legends isn’t the most original police crime drama on television, yet it offers different nuances on the overexposed genre that make the 10-episode series interesting and entertaining.

Based on the award-winning book by spy novelist Robert Littell, Legends stars Sean Bean (Game of Thrones) as Martin Odum, a tough-guy FBI agent who often goes undercover and uses whatever means necessary to thwart terrorist attacks. Odum’s character isn’t the most stable — he unconsciously slips in and out of his various identities, known in law enforcement as “legends” — but his superiors believe that he’s the best man for the job.

During an undercover stint infiltrating a paramilitary group, a stranger warns Odum that his whole life is a lie and that he’s being set up by higher forces within the agency. The stranger is killed before Odum can get more clarity as to those claims, and he begins to wonder if everything he believes to be true is actually make-believe.

Meanwhile, Odum still has to fight the bad guys. The first two episodes set up the characters as Odum and his colleagues Crystal McGuire (Ali Lanter) and Steve Harris (Nelson Gates) flush out terrorists, all the while making sure Odum doesn’t become a liability to the team.

Odum is also hounded by Tony Rice (Morris Chestnut), a law-enforcement officer who has suspicions regarding Odum’s role in the death of the stranger (see Q&A).

Fans of fast-paced, high-stakes crime dramas like 24, Homeland and The Bourne Identity will find a lot of things to like in Legends. Creator Howard Gordon (Homeland, 24) makes the storylines compelling enough to keep drama fans guessing as to the next plot twist. Bean’s is a convincing portrayal of a sympathetic but troubled FBI agent who effortlessly slips from personality to personality as the situation demands.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.