So, I was bored yesterday while waiting for Kristen to get back from work and workout, so I decided to start watching a show on Netflix. Shannara Chronicles was the show that I decided to go with. I actually read the first book when I saw that the show was coming out. I was going to read the whole trilogy, but I barely made it through the first book. So why would I pick up the TV show and decide to watch it on Netflix if I didn’t like the book? I won’t say the book as horrible, it just felt derivative of so many other fantasy books and it tried to be clever, but it failed, and it kind of felt like a D&D campaign where the DM really didn’t know how to tell a story so it bounced from encounter to encounter held together loosely by a bit of story and then they didn’t know how to build an encounter, so they always had to bring in powerful NPC’s at the last minute to save the day. Which now that I say that, it really wasn’t a good book.
The show just seemed interesting and from the trailer that I saw for the show last year (or is it a couple years ago now), seemed like it didn’t directly follow along with the book. And so I decided to give it a try and watch it. Thus far, I can’t say that I’m blown away by the show or that the show is terrible, it’s an enjoyable light yet bloody show with lots and lots of pretty people. The dialog is what you expect for the station that it is on (and no it isn’t The CW, it’s MTV), and the people look like they couldn’t actually survive a day out in the wild or like they’ve really ever been outdoors with how nice they look. But they do get some stuff right, Manu Bennett who plays Gandalf, I mean Allanon, actually is really impressive in his roll, and while his hair is always spot on, he is one of the few who actually looks like he might live in a fantasy world. Everyone else really doesn’t seem that way, well, I guess John Rhys-Davies does as well, but he’s playing an elf which offers it’s own confusion as well.
The story revolves around Earth millions of years after magic has been found and then lost again, society has crumbled and yet there are somehow bits and pieces of our world still hanging out. It’s very confusing, doesn’t really need to be explained, but adds an interesting aesthetic to it. There was a huge war against an evil force, The Dagda Mor, and the evil force and a bunch of demons were locked away. There is a tree that signifies that all of them are still captured. However, that tree is starting to die for some reason, probably because trees do that, but at the point I’m to in the show, everyone blames themselves for some reason or another. So, there is a need to try and figure out what is going on with the tree and grow a new tree, but while waiting for that, more horrible demons and monsters are released into the world.
Now, this seems pretty similar to the plot of the books, with a few exceptions, but it does seem to stand on it’s feet better than the Sword of Shannara book that I read. In that one, he gets bogged down trying to write something smart, MTV makes no bones about it, they are trying to capitalize on Game of Thrones, simply with violence and a plot that is extremely straightforward. And it works for the show. The show is simply about beautiful people (the beautiful people, the beautiful people, it’s all….) going on an adventure and it’s a good popcorn type of show. There isn’t a ton of depth to the plot, though that has built up a little over time, there isn’t much character development, maybe a single character that I can think of, and there isn’t a ton of depth to characters, against Manu Bennett who played Allanon seems to have the most depth on his character. With that said, it’s a pretty show to watch, not just because of the people, and you feel the grand epicness of what is going on in the show. You want to see if they are going to be able to complete their quest (even though you know they are), but you want to see what fantastical element is going to happen next.
Overall, this, like I said, is an enjoyable show. It’s pretty, it’s light, it’s good to watch while eating popcorn, and it’s simple enough that if you miss a little bit, it’s easy to jump back into. I wouldn’t recommend it all that highly, but if you are looking for some lighter fantasy, it’s a good option. If you think that it looks like a more soap opera Game of Thrones and you are expecting over the top but complex depth, you are going to be disappointed. It won’t be for everyone, because the dialog is dumb often, but if you can just get into the feel of the epic adventure and love hexagons (well, maybe just a triangle thus far, but I expect multiple love hexagons eventually), you can enjoy the show.
Critical Grade: D+
Popcorn Grade: B
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