Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Legend of the Seeker No Sword of Truth

I've been a fan of Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series of novels for a decade or more. I've read them all, even the ones that weren't that interesting or seemed overly preachy with his Randian Objectivist views. Still, they were a great series of novels and I still highly recommend them to everyone. So, imagine my excitement when, a few years ago, it was announced that a syndicated television series based on those books was being produced. “Legend of the Seeker” premiered in November 2008 and ran for two seasons until May of 2010. I caught parts of episodes when it was first released and immediately hated it! I do realize that TV shows and movies never follow a novel precisely, but with “Legend of the Seeker” character's personalities, even main characters, seemed to be changed wholesale, the stories of all of the novels were mashed together, characters that never existed in the novels appeared, etc. etc. I really felt like the TV producers had totally fucked up a great book series and stuck a giant middle finger up at Goodkind's fans. I refused to watch it despite Terry's posting on his website (I think that's where I read it anyway) that fans should let the books be the books and the show be the show and not try to compare them. So, I tried to watch another episode; and failed. I just couldn't watch them destroy what had been my favorite series books for the last several years.

So, I recently discovered that the entire first season of “Legend of the Seeker” is available for viewing for free via Hulu (season two is available to Hulu Plus subscribers). So, I'm giving it another chance. I'm trying to watch it as just a television show based in a fantasy setting. It's difficult, because I loved the books so much and the TV show really fails at following anything resembling the story-lines of the novels. As a stand alone show goes, it's ok, assuming you liked Hercules and Xena (Sam Raimi produced both of those plus “Legend of the Seeker, by the way). I've actually watched the first five episodes of “Legend of the Seeker.” I think if I hadn't read the novels, I'd enjoy it more, but I still find myself picking apart all the things in the show that are blatantly wrong compared to the novels. Richard (the Seeker himself) for example, lacks the reasoning ability in the show that he has in the novels and way to impulsive most the time. Kahlan, the Mother Confessor in the novels, is just another Confessor in the books and not even the last of her kind. She's also more harsh and bit bossy in the TV show. First Wizard Zedd is just as powerful in the show, but lacks the whimsical, playfulness of the Zedd in the books. In the books, he's pretty much the last living wizard, while in the show he's just one of many powerful wizards of The First Order. Also, when the hell did Kahlan become ├╝ber-awesome at fighting hand-to-hand with a pair of daggers? I don't remember that shit in the books. She was taught, much later in the novels, by Richard to use a sword, but in the TV series she's wicked awesome with knives from the very beginning. At least the fight scenes are well filmed and choreographed.

The casting for those three main characters is also a little bit off. Bridget Regan, asKahlan, is probably the best cast character; Regan is gorgeous, and actually plays the part of Kahlan quite well. I like Bruce Spence as Zedd decently enough, but Craig Horner just isn't a big enough guy to be Richard in my opinion. Richard was always described as rather tall and muscular (he's a woods-guide before being named Seeker, after all). Horner's got a pretty athletic build, but he's not that tall. In fact Spence is taller than Horner, and I always pictured Richard as being taller than Zedd, not the other way around.

Ok, ok. I realize that I'm picking nits here, and enough reviews exist online as it is now that I really don't feel the need to go into tons of details, especially since I'm only five episodes into giving it another chance to grab my attention. I’m' just saying, as a stand alone TV show “Legend of the Seeker” does ok, but as an adaptation of an epic series of fantasy novels, it sucks.

I'll likely finish watching the first season, and if I ever can afford to subscribe to Hulu Plus, I'll even watch the second season. But, The Sword of Truth this show is definitely not! I'm just getting tired of Hollywood's penchant for the last decade or more of not creating anything new or original. Seems like popular book series and classic 80's TV shows being re-imagined or turned into crappy syndicated series or movies is all that Hollywood's so-called writers can come up with anymore. It's why I really don't care that I don't have cable right now, and why I don't feel like spending the money to go to the movies anymore. As long as I have access to websites like Hulu (which has a lot of older, good TV shows) and good bookstore, I'm good.

~ JC
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