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Thread: The Shannara Chronicles (MTV)

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    The Shannara Chronicles (MTV)

    The two-hour series premiere of The Shannara Chronicles airs on Tuesday, January 5th on MTV.

    A review:

    The Shannara Chronicles Review: MTV's Fantasy Delivers | Collider

    the-shannara-chronicles-review
    Ever since Game of Thrones became the most successful series in HBO’s history, other networks have been looking to find their own success within the fantasy genre. It’s harder than it sounds—in order to be effectively immersive, you’ve got to spend some serious money, and then on top of that you need compelling characters and storytelling that makes it all worthwhile. Which explains why, more often than not, these mimic shows have failed. But MTV is diving headfirst into the fantasy genre with an adaptation of another beloved and long-running series of fantasy novels, and the result is actually a delightful surprise.

    The Shannara Chronicles is based on the Shannara books by author Terry Brooks, of which there are many spinoffs and prequels beyond the initial trilogy. This TV series iteration is most closely based on the second book of Brooks’ trilogy, The Elfstones of Shannara, which revolves around a quest involving magic elfstones and a dying tree.

    One of the more intriguing aspects of Shannara Chronicles is that it actually takes place on Earth thousands of years from now. There are ruins of helicopters and monuments lying around that belong to the “ancient humans,” but the story begins with a race of elves, of which a new legion of “Chosen” have been selected to guard a mystical tree called Ellcrys. For the elves, this is mostly a symbolic gesture as they’ve been told that magic died out years ago, but the legend tells that as long as the Ellcrys stands, a giant demon army remains imprisoned for all eternity. Until now.

    Amberle Elessedil (Poppy Drayton) is a young elf, the first female to ever pass the physical test (which involves running through a forest blindfolded) and become a Chosen. But when she reaches out to touch Ellcrys as part of her initiation, she’s shown a vision of a future desecrated by demons, with her people all dead or dying. But at the same time that the tree gives her the vision, it also begins to die out for the first time in history. This event triggers the awakening of a Druid named Allanon (Manu Bennett), who fought in the war that brought an end to the demon army 30 years prior, but was forced to go into “Druid Sleep” as a result of his depletion. (Either that or he’s just super good at hiding from everyone he knew for three decades).

    Allanon tracks down a young half elf, half human boy named Wil Ohmsford (Austin Butler) who, unbeknownst to him, is the last living bloodline of Shannara and the son of a legendary warrior who single-handedly brought the war between the Four Lands to an end. Begin: hero’s journey.

    Matters are made more complicated by a young girl named Eretria, played by a very grown up Pan’s Labyrinth star Ivana Baquero. Eretria is a Rover, which is basically another word for a thief or scavenger. She makes a living stealing and lying, but as we soon come to learn, she plays a crucial role in the impending adventure.

    Adventure you say? Why of course, this is a fantasy series, there’s absolutely an adventure. Amberle, Wil, and Eretria are destined to save the world before it ends, as they’re tasked with a highly dangerous mission to save Ellcrys, which is the only way to prevent the demon army from being unleashed. For every leaf that falls from Ellcrys, a demon is let out, and these dudes are creepy (a couple wreak havoc early in the series, and are not to be messed with).

    I’ve seen the first four episodes of the series, and what’s most impressive is the world building of the show. MTV clearly invested a lot into the production, which really serves to sell the scale and mythology of the story being told. Gorgeous New Zealand vistas bring the dynamic landscape to life, and the production design is impressively tactile, fully realizing an elegant Elven palace or a dingy druid temple.

    Some of the romantic elements are a cheesy, and the exposition is really clunky at times, but for the most part the show is continually compelling and complex. While I feared that the second episode would revert to a “story of the week”-type plot that would keep the impending demon army at bay throughout the run of the series, the show actually moves through plot quite fast, embracing the serialized aspect of the storytelling.

    Butler is a solid mix of charming, adorable, and heroic as Wil, while Baquero’s shading of Eretria is a nice foil for the clean-cut, somewhat privileged nature of Amberle. The real standout of the series, however, is Manu Bennett, who imbues Allanon with equal parts confidence and self-awareness. When dealing with things like magic and dying mystical trees it’s easy to delve into parody, but Bennett sells the mystical wonderfully with just a slight knowing wink to the audience that says, “This is ridiculous, but just go along with it—it’s gonna be fun!”

    The show does a swell job of setting up and fleshing out the characters over the first few episodes, so that by the time their quest begins, you’re eager to see not only what will happen mythology-wise, but how the dynamic of this very fragile triangle will develop. There’s plenty of drama to be mined just from the short, shared history they go through together in the premiere (which was directed by Jonathan Liebesman), and that’s reinforced considerably in the next two episodes in a way that is very MTV.

    Also, somewhat shockingly, the creature and visual effects in the series are quite graphic, crafting some truly terrifying demons and other evil-types. There’s considerable violence too, pushing the boundaries of what I was prepared to see from a series on MTV—although I guess The Walking Dead gets away with showing any vomit-inducing imagery it wants. Things are changing.

    If you’re looking for something with the level of darkness or action of Game of Thrones, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But The Shannara Chronicles offers an alternative to Thrones’ dim and grim fantasy, focusing on optimism and mythology more than devastating emotional stories and dire situation after dire situation. (It’s not a straight comparison, but the video game Skyrim kept coming to mind as I was watching the show). At the same time, the series makes clear that the stakes are real and the fate of the world is in the hands of this unlikely trio. It’s just that they’re impossibly good-looking, young, and keen on flirty banter, which it turns out is actually not a terrible thing to have in a high-fantasy series. Color me pleasantly surprised.

    The two-hour series premiere of The Shannara Chronicles airs on Tuesday, January 5th on MTV.

    ★★★★ Very good — Damn fine television
    "When life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in your enemy's eyes."

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    Re: The Chronicles of Shannara (MTV)

    The two-hour series premiere (episodes #101/102) starts tonight at 10pm EDT right after The Teen Wolf 5th season winter premiere.
    "When life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in your enemy's eyes."

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    Re: The Chronicles of Shannara (MTV)

    Actually enjoyed the premiere very much. It's more a straight fantasy novel with the approach that there are several races living on the Earth, humans, elves (lifespans seem normal human length), trolls, gnomes, dwarves, demons etc ... The twist is that this story is set in the future after a great war possibly nuclear devastated the planet and that elves and others don't believe in magic.
    "When life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in your enemy's eyes."

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    Re: The Chronicles of Shannara (MTV)

    Season 1 Episode 1
    Chosen - Part 1
    Aired Unknown Jan 05, 2016 on MTV - Music Television

    The Shannara Chronicles - Season 1, Episode 1: Chosen - TV.com

    Part 1 of 2. The premiere of the fantasy drama, which is set thousands of years after the fall of humankind, finds Four Lands threatened by a grave danger.
    Season 1 Episode 2
    Chosen - Part 2
    Aired Unknown Jan 05, 2016 on MTV - Music Television

    The Shannara Chronicles - Season 1, Episode 2: Chosen - TV.com

    Conclusion. Four Lands is threatened by a grave danger.

    Overall a good start to a well loved fantasy book series by Terry Brooks. This story doesn't have the grim gravitas of Game of Thrones but I don't really need to have doom and gloom pounded into me all the time like GOT can do. Still the Wil and Emberle, two of the main leads come across as incredible young and naive and you wonder if they could possibly survive a hangnail much less the demon horde that is to come.

    This review really does set up everything beautifully so ....

    The Shannara Chronicles Series Premiere Review: It's Game of Thrones for the Young-Adult Crowd - The Shannara Chronicles Community - TV.com

    YES IT'S AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS
    The Shannara Chronicles Series Premiere Review: It's Game of Thrones for the Young-Adult Crowd

    By mvick

    The Shannara Chronicles S01E01 / S01E02: "Chosen"

    The first time I heard about The Shannara Chronicles,I was in a small room on the top floor of the San Diego convention center in late July for Comic-Con. The room was barely half-full when MTV debuted the first footage of their ambitious adaptation of Terry Brooks' beloved fantasy novel series, but every single person watched the trailer with their jaws hanging open. After watching the impressive trailer, we all had the same questions : Wait, this is real? And it's on MTV? How does that work?

    According to Brooks at that Comic-Con panel, it took decades of waiting for technology to be at the level he wanted to bring his vision to life and for MTV to use the majority of its production budget to use that tech. And the network did, and it made it work. In fact, I am going to use the most abused comparison in TV criticism and genuinely mean it: The Shannara Chronicles is the young-adult Game of Thrones.

    Actually, thanks to being on MTV, The Shannara Chronicles lacked a lot of the controversial sex and violent torture embedded in Thrones, making it an easier watch for adult-adults too. Aside from being beautiful to look at, the show stayed true to the Brooks novel while updating it for a modern audience. It's a rich adventure for fantasy-series lovers and continued MTV's recent endeavor to put multi-faceted, complicated female characters at the forefront of their programming (see: Finding Carter, Awkward and Faking It). Shannara is not just the beginning of a new phase for MTV, it is a game changer for any network wanting to get in on the fantasy game.

    A little background before we get into it
    The Shannara Chronicles takes places thousands of years in the future in our own timeline, when technology has died out, magic was reborn, and then subsequently died out (or so we think)! It's been 30 years since the War of the Races, where Elf King Evantine (John-Rhys Davis) was able to unite the kingdom of the Four Lands and has ruled in peace ever since. The Elves are clearly the haves of the new society while humans occupy the vast countryside outside of the palace walls. You know, typical fantasy stuff.

    We start with the Chosen (laaaaadies)

    Meet Amberle (Poppy Drayton), the most badass princess of the Four Lands. She's not the cliché "damsel in distress" or the equally overused counterpart of "strong female character" who has no personality traits other than being better than boys at stuff. Her introduction began with her daring to be the first female elf to ever run the The Gauntlet—a death-defying half-mile race through treacherous woods in which its participants are blindfolded and have their hands tied behind their backs—that decided which seven elves will be the Chosen to guard and nurture the sacred tree demon prison called the Ellcrys.

    There was the expected "but you're a girl" response when Amberle made it clear she was going to run, but Shannara replaced the typical "so you can't" modifier with a more nuanced "these guys will kill you, even though you're a princess." It established the stakes of the event rather than honing in on her gender. Even better, Amberle didn't finish the race first. She scraped into last place by the skin of her teeth, proving she's capable without being perfect. Five minutes in and not only do we have a central female protagonist, but she has layers. Beneath that sweep-the-leg-bravado, we found that Amberle cared deeply about her kingdom and would do anything to protect it, even if it meant removing herself from it.

    Oh wait, there's more where that came from. To balance out Amberle's optimism and compassion, there was Eretria (Ivana Banquero), the smooth-talking-don't-trust-her-as-far-as-you-can-throw-her Rover (a nomadic thief) who would do anything she had to in order to survive. Her first task on screen was saving Wil (Austin Butler) from a troll only to drug him and steal his most valuable possessions while he laid unconscious in bathtub. (Yeah Wil, she's going to slay a troll and run YOU a bath. He's so pretty, but so stupid.) We're not exactly sure what Eretria was trying to escape from, but it's clear there's a lot brewing below her slippery, thievery surface. She's all up in the moral grey area when it comes to her means of survival, but the girl has spunk. I think she's my favorite.

    Did I forget to mention that the head of the Elves' army is a black woman named Commander Tilton (Emilia Burns)? Seriously, this show is like female representation Christmas. Tilton wasn't too active in the initial setup, but clues indicated that she'll take on a larger role as more demons come to town.

    The actors are not the prettiest thing to look at I don't know the exact amount of money MTV spent producing the show but it's obvious from the opening shot to the premiere cliffhanger that they spared no expense when it came to sets, CGI, and special effects. The show shifted from beautiful landscapes like the palace, the sanctuary with the Ellcrys, and Wil's lush green village, to the desolate wasteland of Dagda Mor's (the most evil of all the banished demons) prison and Amberle's nightmare visions. Game of Thrones has massive sets and dragons, but it's nothing compared to what Shannara was putting up in its freshman episodes. Aside from scenery porn, the difference between the shots of the Ellcrys and Amberle's vision were the most powerful asset in showing the audience how dark the demons were while the elves argued about whether they actually existed or not. See? Who could blame Amberle from running away to the coast after imagining that?

    Let's not forget about the adventure. The best graphics in the world mean nothing if they don't have the story to support. From the opening sequence, Shannara kept things moving—and they'll have to keep that pace to fit Terry Brooks' first novel into only 10 episodes. The story, like the show's characters, also came with the richest material below the surface. At the top, this was a story about Elves and humans coming together to defeat evil demons by restoring a sacred tree. The central figures in restoring peace and order to the Four Lands were introduced as deeply flawed people. Amberle may be tough, but she's not the brave warrior she needed to be to battle these demons and save the Ellcrys. Wil was still struggling to accept who he was. He can't embrace his power as the last heir of Shannara—the noble magic lineage of Elves tasked with protecting the kingdom—until he made peace with the death of his parents and learned to unlock his potential. That may be The Shannara Chronicles most profound difference from its fantasy genre peers. This isn't a story about gaining power, but one about growing up and figuring out who you are. Therefore, the plot moves forward by character development rather than shocking deaths and political chess moves. The series starts out large, but ambitiously has room to grow—like its audience—which exactly why it works on MTV.
    Last edited by Bearcata; 01-06-2016 at 12:08 PM.
    "When life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in your enemy's eyes."

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    Re: The Chronicles of Shannara (MTV)

    The Shannara Chronicles Season 1 Episode 3
    Fury
    Aired Tuesday 10:00 PM Jan 12, 2016 on MTV - Music Television

    The Shannara Chronicles - Season 1, Episode 3: Fury - TV.com

    Wil and Amberle are kidnapped by Eretria and Cephalo; and Wil must learn how to use the Elfstones before a bloodthirsty Fury kills them all.
    I actually liked this episode better than the pilot. When I had a chance to just watch and enjoy, I realized that they had packed two hours worth into one hour. Lots of stuff happens, Wil and Amberle are saved from a Fury attack by Allanon. They take Allanon to a Druid Cave to heal. In the meanwhile, Wil and Amberle don't know that Allanon will experience Druid Sleep and heal, so they go to get some special river mud and are captured by Eretia and the Rovers. The Rover leader tries to trick Wil into staying, but what he really wants is to have Wil show him how to use the Elfstones. A Fury attacks the camp and Wil uses the Elfstones to destroy the demon and falls unconscious. Allanon shows up to rescue Wil and Emberle from the Rovers and back to the elf city and to face Daddy and the entire Elf Council and to beg forgiveness and to warn them of the demons and to see if the Elfcrise will accept Emberle back as the last Chosen so she can carry it's seed to Safehold to be bathed the the river of blood fire and returned to the elf city. Whew!
    "When life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in your enemy's eyes."

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    Re: The Chronicles of Shannara (MTV)

    The Shannara Chronicles Season 1 Episode 4
    Changeling
    Aired Tuesday 10:00 PM Jan 19, 2016 on MTV - Music Television

    The Shannara Chronicles - Season 1, Episode 4: Changeling - TV.com

    Amberle attempts to prove her worth to the Ellcrys; and the Dagda Mor sends the Changeling, an ancient demon, to kill her.
    What is weird is when I try watching Teen Wolf or The Shannara Chronicles the night it airs or maybe the next night I don't enjoy it as much. It's Friday I am relaxed and I can just get into a good viewing mood and I find the shows so amazing, like they suddenly just improved.

    While the show is a standard fantasy with the premise that this is really our future, at times it has little peeks of really good acting and writing. I did say peeks. Teh actress playing Amberle needs to get some more facial gestures as her default one always makes her looks so puzzled as to what is going on. Amberle is a main character the director is not doing her or the show any favors by not getting more out of her. Wil who is supposed to be a bit of moron/naive has more range.

    I did like the twists and turns with the changeling character but was shocked/surprised that is was not really dead.

    Looking forward to Amberle, Wil and Eretria try to bond as a team which is hard to do when Eretria is being dragged around in chains.
    "When life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in your enemy's eyes."

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    Re: The Chronicles of Shannara (MTV)

    Good characters, good story line, looking forward to seeing what's next.

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    Re: The Chronicles of Shannara (MTV)

    It's not the best thing I've ever seen, but I'm enjoying it. MUCH better production values than I'd expect from a show on MTV.

    Manu Bennett is definitely easier on the eyes in this than he is in the Hobbit movies
    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' - Isaac Asimov

    I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"

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    Re: The Shannara Chronicles (MTV)

    The Shannara Chronicles Season 1 Episode 5
    Reaper
    Aired Tuesday 10:00 PM Jan 26, 2016 on MTV - Music Television

    The Shannara Chronicles - Season 1, Episode 5: Reaper - TV.com


    Amberle, Wil and Eretria must find common ground in order to survive the perils of their quest, which includes the nightmarish Reaper. In other events, at the palace, Ander tries to forge an unlikely alliance in order to find the Dagda Mor.

    The story continues what ticked me off about this episode is how the director set up some of the scenes mostly of the elf guards. Anyone notice that the guards with Amberle have a lot of red in their armor, clearly a loud signal that they are "red shirts". The flashback sequence where the gnomes just enter the palace, and dead guard, dead guard, dead guard just littering the floor of the palace. What's the point of wearing all that armor when a gnome can just throw a suriken/ninja throwing star or a knife in your side, your face and pow you are dead. Then there are the scouts with Amberle, they act like they have never been out of the palace much less are comfortable in the wilderness. Running in full armor that is just so smart. Riding into a area that smells bad and there are lots of dead bodies. Turning your back on marsh wolves. It was all done so predictably and stupidly and such a waste. Make it look hard people, that makes the story believable.
    "When life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in your enemy's eyes."

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    Re: The Chronicles of Shannara (MTV)

    I didn't know Manu Bennett was in Hobbit, but I do remember him from Spartacus that was on Starz. He is gorgeous!!
    Last edited by annemik; 02-03-2016 at 09:20 PM.
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