Sunday, February 14, 2010

Well-seasoned Review: Legend of the Seeker (Season 1)

Legend of the Seeker is a TV series loosely based on The Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind.  I would suggest forgetting that connection if you are a fan of the books.  The TV show borrows themes, characters, and locations, but the story is completely different.  However, by the end of first season, I found myself enjoying the TV series for what it was: a weekly, fun fantasy television series.

Sam Raimi, also responsible for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, is heading up the project.  Legend borrows from the heavy handed action and uncomfortable story telling of both series and does it in a fun way.  While some of the dialogue is laughable and poorly delivered, the visuals and action sequences make up for it.  Shot in New Zealand, at a reported $1.5 million per episode, this is the best looking fantasy on TV.

NOTE: Slight spoilers ahead.

The story follows three main characters: Richard the one true seeker, Kahlan the confessor, and Zedd a wizard of the first order.  The end goal is for Richard to complete the prophecy of killing Darken Raul who is attempting to enslave the world.  Each episode moves towards this goal, but also delivers a complete side story within each.  Watching one episode

Again, the show feels a lot like both Hercules and Xena.  There is never an episode dedicated to pure story telling.  There is always an action sequence just around the corner and most of them are well executed.  The set designs are well done and convincing.

The largest lacking feature of the shows is the sense of scale.  An entire castle siege is reduced to a half dozen soldiers fighting in a throne room.  Characters appear in geographically different areas at the drop of a hat, usually by traveling on foot. Disappointing, but understandable given the constraints of hour long episodes and a weekly schedule.

Another annoying aspect of the season was Zedd's constant disappearance.  To me, Zedd is one of the best characters in the TV series.  It became a running joke to by the end of the season when Zedd would announce to the party "I'll go do this, we'll meet back here in three days".  Sure enough, he'd disapear and at the end of the episode he would be back.  Fortunately, a couple episodes end up following him on his solo adventures.

Overall the show is fun to watch when expectations are set properly.  It is not Lord of the Rings and it doesn't need to be.  I'm glad it is NOT a verbatim script from the books, because that would be some terribly boring TV.  The mix of action to plot is well done and consistency is held throughout the season.  If you can get past the lackluster dialogue, the Legend of the Seeker (Season 1) is fun to watch.  And the best part is that Season 1 and half of Season 2 are available in HD via Netflix streaming.
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