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Legend of the Seeker – Season One Episodes One and Two 18 August 2009

Posted by jordanfarley in TV Review.
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Sometimes it’s hard to know what to expect when investing your precious time in a brand new TV show, but one glance at a 30-second TV spot or even a couple of on-set photos and you will know exactly what to expect from Legend of the Seeker – the new fantasy show, which debuted on the Sci-Fi channel last Thursday. Lord of the Rings by Xena probably doesn’t do it justice but the influences of both were clear in this two-part season opener.

Based on the Sword of Truth book series by Terry Goodkind (the show was originally going to be called Wizard’s First Rule – the title of the first instalment in the series) the set-up for Legend of the Seeker is nothing fantasy fans haven’t seen a hundred times before. A young “confessor” Kahlan (Bridget Regan) is rescued by woodsman-with-a-destiny Richard Cypher (Craig Horner) from a group of armour clad warriors after passing through the boundary between D’Hara and Westland in search of the legendary “seeker” who, prophecies say, will end the tyrannical rule of Darken Rahl. Initially dismissing Richard as the woodsman he is (how many times have we seen that old chestnut?) Kahlan abandons him in search of wizard Zeddicus (Bruce Spence) who is in this land protecting the young seeker under the guise of an old mad-man. Soon enough the truth is revealed, the seeker gets his sword and Darken Rahl’s soldiers kill Richard’s father sending the trio on a quest that promises to change the fate of their world forever.

As far as set-ups go it’s bog standard fantasy fare but it gets the job done and introduces a few unique elements into the mix. Kahlan as a confessor has the power to “touch” people, at which point the person will be devoted to her, confessing absolute truth and even fighting to the death to protect her if needs be. Unfortunately using her power leaves her extremely weak for a lengthy period after meaning two of the shows main protagonists must rely on swordplay in battle, but thankfully the numerous fights featured in this season opener impress with choreography of unexpected quality and production values that wouldn’t look out of place on the big screen. The sheer volume of slow-motion becomes a bit of a joke by the end but it’s well done and looks better than close-up quick cuts could ever hope to (just less in the future please).

Of the three leads Bruce Spence is the standout. Again it’s standard wizard fare – Gandalf lite if you will – but genre veteran Spence successfully injects the show with a much needed sense of humour, a quality that seems to be entirely absent in Richard and Kahlan. Horner and Regan both get the job done, but little more with line deliveries ranging from middling to awful and some laugh-out-loud bad “looking surprised” acting. It doesn’t help that Horner looks like a Hollyoaks cast-off but they do an admirable job in the action set-pieces and it’s still early days. Unfortunately the creators seem to have made a big mistake casting Craig Parker as Darken Rahl, he played Elf Haldir in Lord of the Rings and its shows as he is far from the imposing figure one would expect from a tyrant, like Sauron if he were a rock star rather than a floating eye.

The series certainly shows promise and as one of the few Dungeons and Dragons-esque shows to hit the screen since the demise of Xenia (not counting the god-awful Krod Mandoon – who thought that was a good idea?) it’s certainly a welcome addition to the weekly roster. It looks amazing (shot in New Zealand no less) and the cinematography is up there with the best on TV, but the cgi is dreadful (a TV budget can’t cover everything) and it needs to do something to distinguish itself from the likes of Lord of the Rings if it’s ever to create a world that feels unique. Far from exceptional but a series that shows a lot of promise.

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