Review: MTV’s The Shanara Chronicles

The Shanara Chronicles

cover poster for MTV's the Shanara Chronicles

It is so nice to see the pointy-eared bastards again! (Sorry, that’s a line from Star Trek.)

Ahem. So, I have not read the celebrated novels by Terry Brooks, although I certainly should. I may yet read them, but here I want to talk about the MTV series.

The questions abound:

  • Why MTV?
  • Why Jon Favreau?
  • Why haven’t I read the celebrated books before?

The commercials in between this high-fantasy show are for a reality show about teen pregnancy and Teen Wolf. I remember when MTV meant “music television,” and it made Michael Jackson even more famous, and video killed the radio star, etc. Clearly I am too old to be in their target audience for this show, but it is surprisingly good.

The very hunky half-elf meets the very pretty elf princess, and the sneaky but also-pretty human. They have a quest together. Without revealing too much, the quest involves saving the world from EVIL, as all quests do.

I’m only on episode five, but so far, here are the things I like about the show:

  • There are two! (count them, two!) strong female protagonists
  • The hunky characters are very hunky and they take off their shirts
  • It’s a world with humans, elves, trolls, and demons, and the world is also magical and post-apocalyptic. How all of these creatures evolved from an ancestor, after the world ended, with magic, is not explained. But it’s interesting.
  • So far, the tv show has not oversimplified the complex concepts, like the magic tree, The Ellchrys, and the complex relationship between the king and his sons. In most books, those kinds of relationships fill pages and pages of backstory. The tensions on the surface reflect that backstory, and the tv show does this really well.
  • It is nigh impossible to not compare any fantasy to The Lord of The Rings Series, just because the books created the modern genre of fantasy, and the movies made it so vivid and amazing. I think this series does a great job of being true to itself, while honoring the echoes of those amazing films.

So far, here are the things I don’t like about the show:

  • The Druid, Allanon, and his ominous pronouncements. Maybe the this is the archetypal role of the druid (I am The Maker of Ominous Pronouncements) in all the films/books that include Druids, but every time he opens his mouth, my response is, “Wow. You’re a Shakespearean actor chewing the scenery in a tv show.”
  • Yeah, and the Druid’s head is annoying.

That’s all for now! I will probably update in a few days when I’ve finished watching through episode ten.