Created by Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, Shannara Chronicles is based on the Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara Trilogy. The show premiered on January 5, 2016 on MTV. It is a fictional drama series that has received mixed reviews. However, the show has just gotten started and may have some surprises for the audiences, which can eventually tilt the scales in its favor, or otherwise, for that matter.
The show is set in a mythical time, 300 years after the Race Wars ended. After the war, all kinds of magic have ceased to exist and the demons have been sent to The Forbidding. In The Forbidding, an ancient tree by the name of Ellcrys is what contains all the souls. The story follows the journey of Amberle, Wil and Eretria, who are being led by the last of the Druids, Allanon. They should go to Ellcrys and prevent it from dying to keep the demons from being released on the Four Lands.
Austin Butler plays one of the lead roles, Will Ohmsford, on the show. However, his character is not the most impactful among the pack. His character can be a little annoying, but then again, this may be a conscious move in order to show his growth over time. Amberle, played by Poppy Drayton, is a gutsy and innovative character and her relationships with all the other characters are interesting to watch. She is the princess of the Elves and the first woman to be picked to protect the Ellcrys tree. The character of Eretria is portrayed by Ivana Baquero. At first, she comes off as a petty thief, but as the show progresses, her past and her complicated relationship with her father together give her character great depth. She is an intriguing character and captivates the audiences.
Manu Bannett of The Hobbit and Spartacus fame, plays the role of Allanon on the show. He is a fantastic actor and has not disappointed in this avatar either. Allanon is a no-nonsense guy, but likeable. John Rhys-Davies plays the role of Eventine Elessedil, the king of the Elven Kingdom of Arbolon. He has two children, Arion and Ander, and a granddaughter, Amberle. The actor has also played the iconic role of Gimli in the Lord of the Rings franchise. He is an amazing addition to the show and is very similar to the character in the book. What does strike as odd is his British accent, when his family has an American tone. The roles of Arion and Ander are played by Daniel MacPherson and Aaron Jakubenko respectively. The brothers do not see eye to eye. Prince Ander was one of the most lovable characters in the books, but his personality is slightly different in the TV show, but not in a bad way.
Of course, there is always “the” bad guy and for The Shannara Chronicles it is Dagda Mor. This role is played by another veteran from fantasy movies, Jed Brophy. The actor has been a part of both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. He definitely has the look and the acting skills to scare the audiences. It will be interesting to see a showdown between the ferocious warriors indeed.
Other than the main character, there are many notable recurring characters as well. James Remar is seen as Cephelo in the show, who has adopted Eritria. The role of Catania is played by Brooke Williams, who is a very close aide and a dear friend of Amberle. The other members of the cast include Emelia Burns, Mattias Inwood and Marcus Vanco, among others.
The television adaptation of the Shannara series is quiet close to the book, but does not follow it exactly. Many main characters have quite different personalities, and some of the characters on the show weren’t there in the book. However, the show has delivered excellent results overall.
The show has a good pace, often leading towards frenetic. At some points, the show feels like it is being rushed through, although not often. This can be really distracting for the audiences, since it does not allow them enough time to connect with the backstory of the characters.
The series airs on MTV. Naturally, it does come with its own versions of love triangles and multiple romantic storylines throughout. It also has a plethora of female characters in it and all of them play distinct, recognizable, and strong roles. The show is also designed in a manner that it will appeal to a younger audience. It is an epic fantasy – similar, but not equivalent to Game of Thrones fans (GoT), with a lot of provision for romantic stories.
The Shannara Chronicles is really beautiful to watch and is shot really well. The action sequences in the show are also well-choreographed and are nicely executed. The show also features some mean special effects and all these factors do play together to make it an overall likeable experience for the viewers. Not surprisingly, this series has also been shot in the New Zealand, just like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. The picturesque mountains and the natural beauty of the region has been captured nicely by the directors. The executive producers of the show include Stewart Till, Jon Favreau, and Jonathan Liebesman, among eight others.
So far, whatever episodes have been aired, have received an average response. On both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, the series has received a 50% positive response. However, most of the reviewers have not completely written it off, since the show is still running. Moreover, given the good execution and the confidence that the showmakers have placed in the series, it is very much possible that it may become much better as more episodes are aired.
The show seems to be right up the alley of GoT. The performances are good and the background is intriguing. However, it is not as exciting or thought-provoking as GoT. But, people who are a fan of the genre should give it a try.