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Legend of the Seeker Review

November 9, 2008

Fantasy and television just don’t go together well. Oh sure, no doubt you’ll mention Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, perhaps the ill-fated Dresden Files, Dead Like Me, or even the X-Files. But that’s not what I mean. I’m talking sword-n-sorcery here, people, and that just doesn’t happen that often in a TV series format. The only examples we really have is Xena and the Herk, and maybe Roar, if you’re into Irishmen. But that’s about it. (The original Dungeons & Dragons doesn’t count for purposes of this review; that still had a connection to the “real” world.)

Legend of the Seeker is an ambitious attempt to adapt The Sword of Truth novels, written by Terry Goodkind, to the screen. Who is behind it? Sam Raimi–the guy who brought Kevin Sorbo’s chest to the world. Luckily, there isn’t as much chest worship here. Essentially, the story is about a guide named Richard Cypher–what a delightfully Earthling name–being chosen as the “Seeker,” which is a synonym of “The Chosen One.” His job is to defeat “Darken Rahl,” a sorcerer (played by the elf guy in Lorien in The Fellowship of the Ring) who wants to take over the world, and break the magical barriers separating his kingdom from the rest.

Legend of the Seeker delivers fantasy, that’s for certain. It has fireballs, swords, fairies (okay, so technically its a wisp), and respectably cheesy dialogue. It really isn’t that bad, but at times it did seem somewhat forced and amateurish. Then again, fantasy dialogue would seem that way to us, because a fantasy world is almost completely different from 21st century Earth (No “Yo what up G?” gangstas in the hood there.) However, the music has no excuse for not flowing, and during one scene in which Darken Rahl kills his chief general for failure, there wasn’t as much a soundtrack as a three year old bashing on drums and a six-year old destroying a perfectly good trumpet. In general, though, the music is pretty good, sort of like Lord of the Rings, but not as expensive. Speaking of LOTR, LOTS (hmm…) is also shot in New Zealand, so you get some amazing landscapes that go perfectly with fantasy. I’m about ready to just declare it a wizard and elf preserve and banish all the humans to Australia.

While the music can be debated, there are a few production gaffes that are going to need to be cleared up. First off, when they’re chasing an enemy towards a magical boundary, a secondary character says its “Only an hour away.” He says this at about noon. Next scene: dusk. Arrival at boundary: midnight. Unless this world has a six hour day, that is ridiculous, and quite frankly represents an abuse of dramatic time. I myself was insulted. Second, the woman character switches from a green dress to a white dress in transit, without anyone noticing. Third, their excuse for a “dragon” is so insolent they need to be bitch-slapped. Essentially, what they call a dragon is a goblin with wings soldered to its spine. Reign of Fire and Fire and Ice were creative with their dragons, but that’s because they didn’t violate the core beliefs of what a dragon is. LOTS, on the other hand, just ignored everything and decided to do something completely new–and stupid. Sorry, but that doesn’t cut it, and I highly doubt Mr. Goodkind is responsible for that. (And if he is, well, then he’s stupid too.)

However, its not enough to really bring this show down. The wizard, Zed, is just frickin` great. His wittiness deserves a gold star in my book, despite the fact that he’s practically the show’s resident Ferengi (in that he spouts off dozens of “rules” relating to wizardry and the Seeker.) The rest of the acting is decent enough, and the magic is pretty cool. Writing blood down in a book and then having that show up in copies of the book miles and miles away, while perhaps not 100% innovative, is still cool. The special effects are top-notch. And the fight scenes are also good.

If you’re looking for Xena or Hercules, well, sorry, but this isn’t nearly as campy and takes itself a bit more seriously. It’s also, to me, more refined than those earlier ones, and it does not have the 12,000 metric tons of testerone both shows were afflicted with. I don’t think it’ll go the way of Roar, but rather will enjoy a much longer run. So far, it has 22 episodes lined up, and is being distributed by ABC. I happened to watch it locally on “The CW,” so check local listings. Tribune Broadcasting is also reportedly distributing it. In conclusion, while somewhat odd, its good, and I think it deserves to be seen. Repeatedly.

Final Score: A-

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