Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Legend of the Seeker - Season One

Written by Joe the Revelator

Legend of the Seeker is a show loosely based around the events occurring in Terry Goodkind's novel; Wizard's First Rule. In the same way Fantasia was based on the behavior of hippos in the wild, or how Troy was based on the Iliad. Names are taken from the Sword of Truth books and pinned to characters who look or act nothing like their literary counterparts. The rules that govern magic are carried over from the books and broken repeatedly. It was clear from the first episode that this series was a payday for Goodkind, or his publisher, and not a true-to-the-letter retelling of the books.

Abandon all hope, ye bookworms

To keep this review from becoming a nonstop comparison of the books, I'll say right now that the show and the novels are vastly different. It's like someone cut out sections of the source material, paragraph by paragraph, and used them as wallpaper. Parts of the plot-line feel disjointed and out of place. Events from the books are jumbled together or missing. Even Goodkind's devoted readers (those who didn't skip his lengthy rants, tangents, and the stories that had nothing to do with the main character) will be hard pressed to sort through the scenes.

For those who haven't read the Sword of Truth novels, prepare yourself for the newest incarnation of Xena Warrior Princess. Even some of the producers from Xena and Hercules are listed in the credits for Legend of the Seeker. And, like Xena, the action in the Seeker is cartoony and bad, the acting is iffy, and comical parts are punctuated with whimsical sound effects.

All of this worked for Xena because the Warrior Princess didn't take herself too seriously. The writing for the Seeker, however, is extremely serious and downright dark at times. There are themes of oppression, the necessity of violence, of torture and murder, sex, morality, and the subjugation of freewill. The Legend of the Seeker tries to cram Goodkind's principals, high-horse and all, into campy 45-minute episodes.

Hobo Wizards

On a positive note I believe that whoever did the casting for the Seeker made some interesting choices. Zed, the Wizard and mentor of the hero is played by Bruce Spence, who was also the Train-Man in the matrix trilogy. The role of the Mother Confessor, along with most of the characters, are filled by veterans of other HBO and Showtime serials. And Craig Parker (Darken Rahl) is so convincing as an evil wizard-dictator, I'm starting to think it was his full time job before the acting gig.

Richard Rahl/Cypher himself is played by Craig Horner, who is likeable enough in a tan, surfer-bro kind of way, but I find it distracting that he's physically smaller than the mother confessor. Whenever he's pitted against the fat, bald, biker warlords of the evil empire, he looks like a wet kitten fighting with bulldogs.

Process of elimination

If you've run out of documentaries on Netflix, and you've no more books to read, you might give the Legend of the Seeker a try. Aside from a few glaring inconsistencies from episode to episode, and its juvenile approach to romantic plot lines, Seeker has enough odd notions and flashy effects to hold viewer attention for the better part of an hour.

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