Big-budget, fantastical event miniseries used to be a staple at NBC not too long ago: The Odyssey, Merlin, The Tenth Kingdom. They don’t make ’em like that much anymore, and The Last Templar, a daffy holy-relic-hunt mini starting on NBC Sunday night, suggests that that may not be such a bad thing.
It kicks off as a display of religious artifacts at a New York museum is raided by sword-wielding armored men on horseback who make off with a jeweled cross that once belonged to Emperor Constantine; archaeologist Tess Chaykin (Mira Sorvino) grabs a crozier from the exhibit, gives chase on a police horse, and jousts one of them to the ground in Central Park. FBI agent Sean Daley (Scott Foley) joins the investigation, which leads to a Da Vincian mystery involving the Church and a rumored treasure of an ancient order of knights.
Sorvino is wholly unconvincing as an Indy Jones type—which might actually work if the story went in a parodic, quasi-farce direction. But the whole production is hobbled by an uneven tone; it’s not frightening enough to work as a conspiracy-adventure, not funny enough to work as light romantic comedy. In an age when longform specials at NBC generally mean supersized episodes of Celebrity Apprentice, Templar is a curious artifact, and maybe even a nobly intended one, but it would have been better off left buried.