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Peacock pumps new life into The Da Vinci Code franchise with The Lost Symbol
Fans of The Da Vinci Code and Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels are getting a new adaptation of Brown’s 2009 thriller The Lost Symbol, which is heading to NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service.
The series takes the franchise in a new direction, rebooting the Langdon storyline with a new cast and serial format.
NBCUniversal shared the three first episodes of The Lost Symbol with Android Authority ahead of the premiere. Read on for our thoughts on the Da Vinci Code reboot.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol premieres on Thursday, September 16, only on Peacock.
What is Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol about?
When Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon arrives at the US Capitol to give a talk for his mentor Peter Solomon, he soon realizes the invitation came not from Solomon but from his kidnapper. With Solomon’s severed hand left behind and CIA agents mysteriously getting involved, Langdon teams up with a Capitol policeman and Solomon’s daughter Katherine to get to the bottom of things.
Langdon has to follow clues, puzzling his way through historical artifacts and cyphers as his mentor’s captors toy with him. In true Dan Brown fashion, he has to contend with Freemasons and ancient conspiracies. And some crippling claustrophobia and experimental paranormal science add an extra bit of fun to the whole thing.
The series follows Langdon and company as they try to find Peter Solomon and get him home safely. Meanwhile, they have to stay a step ahead of the CIA, never fully knowing how deep this rabbit hole goes, or who is involved.
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Brown’s novel was originally set to be adapted as a film sequel to The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, with Tom Hanks reprising his role as Robert Langdon.
Instead, the production team adapted Brown’s 2013 bestseller Inferno. So, this is the first adaptation outside of that main film series and a franchise reboot of sorts.
A fresh new take on The Da Vinci Code
The Lost Symbol feels like a fresh new take on Dan Brown’s work, virtually immortalized now in the films of Ron Howard.
No one is reinventing the wheel here, though. The series is produced by The Da Vinci Code director/producer duo of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer through their Imagine Entertainment production company. Dan Trachtenberg also produces and directed the pilot.
It retains a lot of what made the films work. But it also feels like a clever update. Tom Hanks is terrific in virtually any role he takes on, including Robert Langdon, but his take on the character feels of its time. He’s the smartest guy in the room, and everyone accepts that, but that makes him a bit smug and overbearing.
With Ashley Zukerman’s take on Langdon, we get a younger, less experienced Langdon. He’s still brilliant, of course, because the role requires it. But he gets called out on his smugness by people no less intelligent or committed to finding Solomon.
The Robert Langdons of the world can sometimes have tunnel vision. They can over-rely on their own expertise. And they can let the validation of teaching young minds go to their heads. The Lost Symbol gets this about Langdon and leaves a bit of room for dissent, without necessarily undermining Langdon’s puzzle-solving cleverness.
His compatriots are just as capable as he is, but with diverse skillsets sometimes at odds with his. That makes for more dynamic storytelling and fun television generally.
Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol review: Verdict
Beyond updating the Da Vinci Code franchise and injecting new energy into it, Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol is a solid series. It blends the narrative efficiency of yesteryear’s network TV with the complex, rewarding world-building of the streaming age.
It effectively works like a police procedural, with Robert Langdon and his colleagues as outsider detectives. But there’s a flavor of Indiana Jones worked in too. (Langdon and Katherine fondly remember Raiders of the Lost Ark together in a quick wink to the audience.)
At times, the show revels in the weird and dark, echoing another NBC series — and one gone far too soon — Hannibal. Peter Solomon’s cryptic dream sequences in particular evoke the more experimental elements of that show. Not to mention Eddie Izzard appearing in both.
The Lost Symbol is a fresh, smart, and fun take on Brown's novels.
The main cast works well together, with Rick Gonzalez and Valorie Curry, in particular, holding Langdon’s aforementioned smugness at bay. At least enough to add some much-needed tension.
There’s also nothing like a good bad guy, and Beau Knapp is spine-tinglingly good as the amply tattooed, gleefully violent Mal’akh. Knapp has been one to watch since projects like Destroyer and The Good Lord Bird, and The Lost Symbol will hopefully keep his star rising.
All in all, the series is a real winner. And it’s a surprisingly welcome reboot of a franchise that seemed to have already been tidily wrapped up.
You can check out the premiere of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol September 16 on Peacock.