The Shannara Chronicles Season 1 is a 10-episode series that began airing in January of this year. The series is an adaptation from the popular Terry Brooks novels, which began back in 1977.
The series turned TV series could be best described in my mind as The 100 meets Lord of the Rings with a smidge of Game of Thrones thrown in there too. There’s a post-apocalyptic Earth that we don’t really ever discuss and now numerous humanoid races roam the Earth trying to survive. Among them are the elves, trolls, druids, dwarves, and other mythical races from lore.
The show is pretty good and despite the fact that it’s intended audience is probably significantly younger than me (who really cares??), I enjoy the drama that unfolds in each episode, although it does tend to be a little too heavy on the dramatic for my general tastes.
The main plot for the first season involves trying to ensure that an ancient tree, keeping the evils of the world captive, doesn’t die and set all of those evils free. An Elven princess breaks years of tradition and becomes one of the protectors of the tree but after terrible happens, she winds up bearing the burden of saving the tree all on her own. She recruits others to join her on her journey and try to stop the (second) end of the world.
The costumes and the CGI for a MTV series are pretty amazing, to be honest. I was pretty impressed by the look of the demons that appear throughout the show and the level of detail within the costumes, which I assume would take up quite a bit of budget to do well. Even while watching the show on Blu-ray, the CGI baddies weren’t too hokey. Shows like Doctor Who take pride in having actual people within the alien costumes, but many shows don’t have the luxury of years of loyal audiences to hook them in. The Shannara Chronicles definitely excels when it comes to the scenes where they’re leaning on the CGI to carry much of what’s transpiring.
The Shannara Chronicles loses some points for me for its characters. It leads you to believe that there are two females who are the main focus of the show, which would be great. However, the women in the show don’t really serve any purpose other than to move along the character arc of the men. Amberle and Eretria are feuding for a number of reasons, which include Eretria having tried to kidnap and rob Amberle a couple of times, but the real reason that there’s animosity between them revolves around their mutual affection towards Wil. Their love triangle was exhausted and boring for me immediately. I’m sick of this trope being played out… NEXT.
But speaking of Eretria, the actress that plays her is Ivana Baquero, who you’d likely remember as Ofelia in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. As I watched her in the first episode, I couldn’t shake that feeling like I had seen her in something else before. She looks a little bit like Shailene Woodley, so for a moment I thought maybe she was her little sister or a grown up Disney kid, but nope. Baquero was the wonderful young actress who helped make Pan’s Labyrinth one of del Toro’s finest films (and one a masterpiece of our time).
Anywhoo though, the show looks great on Blu-ray… most do these days. It’s worth noting that MTV chose to keep the series at 10-episodes, which is amazing. So many shows are consumed by the whole MORE IS BETTER mentality and it drives me nuts. Filler episodes aren’t quality episodes and I appreciate and respect shows and showrunners who can keep this in mind when bringing something to life.
Special Features included with The Shannara Chronicles Blu-ray:
- Behind The Scenes Featurette
- Exploring New Zealand
- Making of the Dagda Mor
- Interview with writer Terry Brooks
Buy it IF you’re a fan of the series. I think this goes without saying for a lot of movies and TV shows but it’s true here too. I think you could pick up this show on a whim and definitely enjoy it, especially if you maybe read the books, but for me, it didn’t have a ton of rewatchability.
The story is strong and has a popular series to use as a guideline, but I didn’t read the books and I don’t know how they stack up comparably. That being said, I did enjoy the show while I watched it, aside from stupid love triangles, so I think it’s something others will be able to indulge in, even as something just fun and mindless to consume after work.