Sean Bean

Unlike poor Ned Stark, whom he played in Game of Thrones' first season, Sean Bean won't be losing his head anytime soon as Martin Odum, the rugged chameleon hero of TNT's Legends (Wednesday, 9/8c). Losing his mind, however, might be an occupational hazard.

The best parts of this otherwise disappointingly generic spy thriller depict Bean burrowing into Martin's psyche as a (what else, and wait for it) legendary FBI deep-cover operative, who commits so fully to his carefully manufactured false identities, or "legends," that he signs alimony checks with his alias's name. His unsteady sense of self only gets more confused when a hooded stranger warns him that Martin isn't even really Martin, that "everything about him is fake."

Yes, in case you haven't guessed, this special agent is apparently Bourne again, and if Legends itself falls short of instant-icon status (despite producers with Homeland and 24 among their credits), it's no fault of Bean's, who is riveting as he occasionally morphs into character before his colleagues' amazed eyes.

The rest of the series could use a personality transplant. Martin's co-workers are cut from awfully familiar patterns: the brittle bombshell (Ali Larter, particularly ill-used) who resents his reckless ways; the blustery boss (Steve Harris, sleepwalking) who stands up for him; the eager techie (Tina Majorino, bringing some welcome perky energy) who worships him. And the capers are so predictable in the early going that, when the ubiquitous Zeljko Ivanek shows up as a militia leader, you can't help but roll your eyes, itching for Martin to get back to the mystery of who he is.

Or who he'll be next week. Such is the stuff of legend.

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Watch this tonight! Find out why Legends is today's editors' pick: