Friday, January 8, 2016

The Shannara Chronicles has a beautiful cast and setting and is probably the best thing on television this January

Even though the Shannara chronicles is a clear departure from the eighties fantasy book, The Elfstones of Shannara, it comes across as being very fresh and engaging. This week, I managed to catch the premiere (which had episodes one and two in one long episode with limited commercial interruption), and then I watched the next two episodes "On Demand." As usual John Rhys-Davies turns in a solid performance (this time playing the elven king Eventine instead of some dwarf named Gimli), but what took me a little by surprise was how good-looking this cast is (should I have expected anything less of MTV?) The fact that they can all seemingly act really well (I'm not just saying that because I like skin) is just icing on the cake. Add to that the huge budget MTV clearly threw at this thing to make it "Lord of the Rings" quality, and you get a recipe for something that is easily the best thing on television right now.

Here I'll just tick off the cast for you so you don't have to do any of the work yourself. First off there's Austin Butler who plays Wil Ohmsford (I just gotta say that Wil has a real hard time keeping his clothes on). I also don't remember Wil being this smokin' hot when I first read the books. I mean...he wanted to be a healer...which in any MMORPG is the position usually referred to as "the girlfriend class." Just sayin'.  And, here's the best screen cap of Wil on the shores of the Silver River (although there's another in the bath tub with Eretria much earlier in this same episode)...
And then there's Ivana Baquero who plays the sultry Eretria (a roguish character that has a mean streak in her, yet is a scene-stealer in just about every situation where she is featured). And yeah, right off the get go she was practically naked in the bathtub with Wil before she stole his elfstones (okay I'm suddenly realizing how odd that phrase sounds given that Wil is a half-elf and was naked at the time)...
And not to be outdone, Eretria's opposite in the show is played by Poppy Drayton, and her name is Amberlee and she's the king's daughter. She's the bit of class that the story needs to kind of contrast with Eretria's rover personality. She doesn't get naked but you see her in a lot of tight, soiled outfits with her mouth hanging open (a lot).
Anyway, what to say about this fantasy epic other than it's really great? Seriously it is great and you should be watching it. But I like the effects (especially the demons because the Changeling is truly horrifying), I like the characters, and I think the story (though different from the books) has enough of its own flavor that I don't mind any of the changes. It's understandable that you'd have to make some changes in any adaptation. I'm just really excited to see how the whole thing plays out, and whether or not some of the most memorable parts of the book make it to the screen. If you want to watch it (and don't get MTV), you may download the free MTV app and watch all four episodes for free right now. That's great, isn't it?


  1. I enjoyed the first episode and will post a similar review on Monday. The overall plot and story arc is the same - they are hitting the key points - just the details are different. Like the teen angst on steroids - that was not in the books. But after years of waiting to see my favorite books on the screen, I am not disappointed.

  2. I have the first episode saved on my DVR, and I can't wait to watch it. I thought I had set it to record the second episode, too, so I'll have to watch that on demand.

    Laughing about the elfstones!

  3. I'll check it out at some point. Maybe next week.
    Hopefully, the show will be an improvement over the source material.

    1. I think you should go into it (if possible) with a fresh mind and just throw all the concerns you may have with the source material to the wind. Think of it as a story that wants to be its own thing by borrowing elements that were good from the original and then embarking on its own adventure.

  4. Good scheduling since Game of Thrones doesn't start until April 24.

  5. I liked this show and very impressed by the amount of money MTV spent on the sets and CGI. This is certainly written to tap into what has made the CW so successful I just hope the younger actors improve a little.

    The older actors like Crixus, Harry Morgan, and Gimli are the ones stealing scenes (Manu Bennett from Spartacus, James Remar from Dexter, and John Rhys-Davies from LotR). You are right about Eretria though.

    It doesn't help that the script writing feels like an hourly procedural that reminds me a bit of what they did in Legend of the Seeker. I liked that series too but much deeper shows like Game of Thrones make this pale in comparison.

    I'm sure I will watch the whole thing. It feels like it will be a fun ride as long as they spend more time on the amazing world they've built and less on love triangles.

  6. I recorded it on my DVR, but I haven't had a chance to see it yet. I'll get to that soon probably.