From Al Gough and Miles Millar comes The Shannara Chronicles MTV series, an epic fantasy journey based on the Terry Brooks novels. The first 10-episode season debuted January 2016 and stars Poppy Drayton, Austin Butler, Ivana Baquero, Manu Bennett and John Rhys-Davies. Season one will be available on Blu-ray December 6, 2016.
The Four Lands, normally a land of magic and peace, faces a threat beyond man: Demons. Banished ages ago, they were held back by a magical wall known as the Forbidding. Yet the source of that magic, the magical tree known as the Ellcrys, is dying, and thus the wall wanes. When the acolytes who tend to the tree are all killed, the wise Druid Allanon turns to Amberle, the last remaining disciple, to save the tree. Only she can take the seed of the elven tree to the faraway Bloodfire, to replant the Ellcrys and stop the Demons. To protect her, Allanon sends the young Wil Ohmsford, a descendant of heroes past. As the two youth head on a perilous journey, Allanon and the entire Elven Nation stand together to hold back the Demons and stop them from destroying the Four Lands.
The series takes place in a fantasy driven world which is actually Earth – YEARS AND YEARS – so many years into the future and I love the twist that the world has transformed into this mix of magic and medieval after our modern civilization fails. The overall premise has an elven princess, a half elf healer and a human rogue going on a quest to save the Four Lands after demons begin to return and wreak chaos when the mystical Ellcrys tree starts to die.
Trolls, gnomes (not your run of the mill garden suckers – these dudes are ugly) and the occasional human (most of which are assholes which is fitting) pop up to make things interesting. The druid Allanon awakens just as the demons do and he’s the mastermind behind assembling our quest team to fight the incoming evil. Manu Bennett continues to portray essential badassery and his role as Allanon is beyond my favorite performance on The Shannara Chronicles. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t as excited for the show to begin with if not for his involvement.
One of the aspects I loved most about this show, and was shocked by to say the least, was how jarring the violence could get. When a demon is ripping into somebody and tearing them to pieces – it is horrifying. Even in the finale when a dude is getting his head bashed in with a chain – I was like, “Ok buddy, calm down – you’ve bashed his head in enough – he is certainly dead.” I wasn’t sure what the limitations would be on MTV, but violence was certainly not one of them. The action sequences coupled with amazing special effects (this is a TV show? I still have a hard time believing that) make The Shannara Chronicles unparalleled to anything else on the smallscreen right now. Read my entire review HERE
- Meet the Characters
- Exploring New Zealand
- Terry Brooks interview
- Making of the Dagda Mor
Note: If you already own the DVD set of season one, the only bonus in picking up the Blu-ray all these months later, is to get a really nice High-Def look at The Shannara Chronicles. Obviously this is the superior viewing since the effects looks glorious on Blu-ray as opposed to DVD, but don’t go in expecting more special features. You will however get a nice sleeve for the case and a cool little booklet which gives you some background on a few main characters.
The special features themselves are short but I do appreciate the attention paid to make-up and costuming considering how wonderful those elements are on the show. I also had zero frikken clue that Jed Brophy (The Hobbit, Lord of The Rings) was the main villain – Dagda Mor. It makes sense – this is a New Zealand production after all and Brophy is one of the best monster performers in the business. Major props to him for enduring what they said was the most complicated make-up process on the show.
The interview with Terry Brooks was short and sweet – but I would’ve liked more insight into the history of this franchise and his novels, considering he’s written so damn many of them and we have only scratched the surface in season one… But there will be more time for that hopefully down the road. The Shannara Chronicles was a terrific and surprising fantasy series and if you missed it the first time – grab the Blu-ray set when it comes out. If you already watched it when it aired – there isn’t much to keep you entertained feature-wise here, but I did enjoy what they had even if it was abbreviated.