Sean Bean is making a killing out of losing his head. Of course there was that business on Game of Thrones when his Eddard Stark was (three-year-old spoiler alert!) brutally dispatched by decapitation. And now the ruggedly squinty actor returns in a star vehicle that has him checking his noggin in a whole different way: He’s Martin Odum, an undercover agent with a myriad of guises — ”legends” in CIA parlance — struggling to keep things straight. Where do his fake selves end and his real self begin?
The first legend we see — a stuttering Everyman created to take down a militant group — feels like a sly homage to Breaking Bad‘s Walter White. By the third episode, he’s impersonating a James Bond-esque arms dealer. (You get the sense that this is Bean’s way of playing better parts he never got.) And there’s the intriguing possibility that Odum might be a legend himself — making Legends a bit Bourne Identity, too.
There are worse ways to spend your time than watching Bean work hard and cheerfully to make this premise fly, but the series just isn’t worthy of its star, or its influences, or the quality supporting cast that includes Ali Larter and Morris Chestnut. The high concept is poorly served by a conventional, lazily executed case-of-the-week structure. The show is exec-produced by Howard Gordon of 24 and Homeland fame, and if only he had brought his A game the way his star brought his, Legends could be more memorable. B-