There was a period of time, right after The Da Vinci Code a movie came out, where everyone around me pretended to have advanced degrees in art history and got poetic about secret societies and religious symbolism in popular media. Ultimately, Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon books and their later adaptations aren’t that deep.
Following the Harvard symbologist as he travels the world solving crimes with his knowledge of art history, the best-selling series consists of pulpy action-adventure thrillers that dot more science and history than their usual genre counterparts (though those facts are likely to skew plus) sensational History Channel special than the art history honors seminar). And it worked: Brown nailed the appeal of good guys taking on formidable villains with grandiose schemes, saving the day with his specific academic skills (with the added serotonin touch of getting the answers right in trivia).
The new Peacock series, The lost symbol Based on the third book in the franchise, it delivers the same excitement in its first episode, which airs on September 16. With its exaggerated puzzles and wicked plot, this episodic version of the material promises the same energy as the books, but with a slightly different interpretation of the main character.
The lost symbol it is the only book in the Brown series to be set primarily in the United States. Unlike some of Langdon’s other novels, which often interrogate the Catholic Church, this one investigates Freemasons and the founding of America, with a lot of strange-minded science, because why not? It is familiar territory, and although this adventure comes after the events of Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code, the series makes it more of an origin story for the symbologist.
The first episode begins when Langdon (SuccessionAshley Zukerman) receives a call from her former mentor, Professor Solomon, and a man claiming to be Solomon’s secretary invites Langdon to come to Washington for a conference. It turns out that the man kidnapped Solomon and left his severed hand pointed at the Smithsonian’s ceiling. From there, it’s riddles, clues, and cryptic phone calls, leading Langdon on a high-stakes mission.
Zukerman imbues Langdon with more awkwardness than the character’s often overly soft literary counterpart. This man is an art history teacher, after all! In the books, Brown goes out of his way to constantly remind readers that Langdon is not only a scholar, but also a tall, athletic water polo player. and A sexy “bedroom eyes” heartthrob who can’t keep women from constantly hitting him. The television version of Langdon looks more like an enthusiastic puppy, who has just started his adventures. It’s endearing and turns the character from a male power fantasy, the James Bond of the art history world, into someone more relatable (and definitely more likable than his book counterpart). This version of Langdon doesn’t totally deviate from the novels, but by positioning itself as a prequel, The lost symbol promises a royal arc for Langdon’s character rather than just dragging him around for a wild plot.
And could something of the plot happen in a feasible or logical way? Not at all, as is the charm of Robert Langdon’s adventures.
Watch Langdon and a CIA officer discover a hidden treasure using their knowledge of Latin and throw water on a stone wall to disintegrate the written letters and reveal a handle, all while the walls of a creepy underground chamber filled with human bones are they close slowly. It looks like something out of an educational entertainment video game. The mysteries invite viewers to follow the protagonist; in the case of Langdon’s Adventures, where many of the clues come from textbooks, it adds an extra layer of intrigue. From course It’s crazy and completely unreal, but considering it’s basically a Carmen SanDiego CD-ROM game for adults, that’s exactly the appeal.
New episodes of The lost symbol Premiere Thursdays at Peacock.