Daniel Brount is a senior creative writing major and writes ‘Do You Copy?’ for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Daniel at email@example.com.
If you’re looking for a fantasy TV show, MTV probably isn’t the first place you would look. But the network recently debuted “The Shannara Chronicles,” and surprisingly, it isn’t half bad.
The series, based on Terry Brooks’s “The Sword of Shannara Trilogy,” focuses on the second book, “The Elfstones of Shannara.” It follows half-elf Wil Ohmsford (Austin Butler), elven princess Amberle Elessedil (Poppy Drayton) and human thief Eretria (Ivana Baquero) on their mission to save an ancient tree called the Ellcrys. This tree has the magic to keep demons locked within a place known as the Forbidding, but when the tree begins to die, the demons begin to wreak havoc in the Four Lands.
The only way you would know “The Shannara Chronicles” is on MTV is by looking at the main actors, most of whom are young and attractive (even then, you still wouldn’t be able to figure out if it was a show on MTV or the CW). For MTV, the visuals are very well done — believable even, for the most part — unless you’re simply watching the show to spot flaws (if you are: there’s a subtitle spelling error for you to find in episode four). The demons are appropriately creepy looking, and the world Brooks has built in his books looks lively and intricate. The unexpectedly stunning visuals aren’t quite as surprising when you know that MTV says the show is the most expensive original program in its history.
I have to say, I’m glad MTV is putting that much faith and money into this program, as it is certainly a risk for the network despite the success of other major fantasy franchises on TV, “Game of Thrones” being the prime example. However, you shouldn’t go into this show looking for another “Game of Thrones.” For one, this show has a dose of sci-fi, as it takes place on our Earth, many years after a nuclear holocaust destroyed the world as we know it. This is vaguely explained in the show, mostly represented in the setting with sporadic bits of modern technology rusted and blended into nature.
What really separates this show from “Game of Thrones,” though, is that it is noticeably targeting a younger audience, based on the main actors, the modern language used by the characters, and the shoddy attempts at humor.
Some of that humor does take away from the show, but there are bits that may result in a chuckle or two. I do appreciate the attempts, though. They give the show a lighthearted quality that saves it from being too dry.
What distracts me more than anything is how near-perfect the characters almost always look. Eretria comes from a not-so-clean band of thieves called the Rovers, and her father isn’t exactly kind to her. Given how many times he threatens her, along with the conditions she lives in, her skin is infinitely more flawless than it should be.
That being said, she does have an interesting character. Both of the female leads have a lot of potential, as long as the love triangle between them and Wil doesn’t take too much screen time.
Eretria is a thief, and she was practically raised to be a badass, but she’s stuck with the Rovers, preventing her from being the powerful character she will likely become later on in the season.
Amberle is a princess, but a rebellious one at that. Although she suffers from an annoyingly large amount of guilt and a healthy amount of self doubt, her relationships and potential will make her an interesting character, nonetheless.
As far as Wil, well, I haven’t decided how I feel about him. He’s the classic reluctant hero, not too bright but nearly selfless. He seems more driven by his attraction to the two female leads than anything else, so hopefully that becomes less central to his character.
All of the actors do a relatively good job of portraying these characters, but Manu Bennett, who plays Druid Allanon, and John Rhys-Davies, who plays Elvin king Eventine, steal the show. Both have had a lot more time to develop their acting chops, and it shows. Allanon is undoubtedly the most interesting character so far, fulfilling the mentor role as the last living Druid; he’s been alive for more than 300 years, and the secrets of his history keep coming.
After the first four episodes, I already know I’ll watch the rest of the first season, and maybe the next if it's renewed. It isn’t a show that will receive critical acclaim or change the fantasy TV genre as we know it, but it’s fun and filled with potential.