All hell is about to break out in the Geekdom universe with the first-ever Sibling Battle Royale (a.k.a. “Face-Off), with “Madam” Savanna Leigh vs. her bro,”The Traveling Nerd” Lance Paul, as they tackle the newly minted show The Shannara Chronicles — a show based off of one LP’s favorite series of books as a young adult/teenager.
Okay, so last year.
If you’re not familiar the series of books, Shannara is written by Terry Brooks and began in 1977 with The Sword of Shannara and has been continuing through 2015 with The Darkling Child. The series is almost a reimagined universe very strongly influenced — or “stolen” — from The Lord of the Rings, depending on to whom you talk. It blends magic and primitive technology and is set in the Four Lands, which is later identified as Earth long after civilization was destroyed by chemical and nuclear holocausts called the Great Wars of North Korea.
But that’s enough of the back story; let’s get ready to rumble!
Savanna: When my brother, The Traveling “Whatever he is”, asked me to review the series premiere of The Shannara Chronicles on MTV, my first thought was… “Man, GodHatesGeeks has stooped to reviewing Teen Mom shows?”
TN Lance: Don’t lie: you binge watch nothing but Reality TV at mom’s house! I’ve seen it!
Savanna: Shut up, Lance! Back to what I was saying. To ease my fears, I took a look at the trailer and it looked like a kick ass hybrid of Lord of the Rings and Hunger Games. I was so right on. I stayed up well past my bedtime of 8 PM to watch this show, so I was hoping that it really knocked my socks off…I had very low hopes since it was an MTV show. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few years, then you would know that MTV has re-branded itself to shitty reality television, and a few semi decent supernatural shows. I’ll be honest: I had to do a little research on what this show was all about. Apparently it’s based on a book series but specifically The Elfstones of Shannara. The overall consensus is that it takes a lot of ideas from good old Tolkein. I definitely tried going into this show with an open mind, though!
TN Lance: It is so much more than just a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings. I mean, yeah, they’re Elves, Orcs and demons– but it’s all set in a post-post-post-apocalyptic world. Think Fallout meets Skyrim! This is a dystopian future where man’s messing with mother nature has created the fantasy characters we have grown to love. There is something intrinsically beautiful about seeing elves and orcs battle over vine-covered ruins of skyscrapers, shipping freighters and even the Space Needle. So, yes, this is set in Seattle, like most post-nuclear-blast cities. This show is also Produced by Al Gough (Smallville) and Miles Miller (Spider-Man 2), who have created some much loved nerd shows in the past.
Savanna: Quit trying to impress the ladies with your nerd book knowledge, that didn’t work in 8th grade and it definitely is not going to work in 2015! One of the first scenes of the show starts off with Amberle (Poppy Drayton) running through the woods blind folded and hands tied – is this also a mix of Fifty Shades of Gray?? Did the dying woman just tell her son to find the droid? Or do I need to turn on my subtitles? Am I also watching a Star Wars hybrid as well? …Ohh she said Druid. Lancie Pants, are you getting confused with all the skipping around in beginning? Or is it just me?
TN Lance: Sis, you have watched to The Force Awakens one too many times. They are not jumping around, they are just trying to explain things and break things down so even the least educated fantasy lover could appreciate. This is not 50 Shades, sis: like all YA franchises, they need to build up the trouble our young hero must journey on; and, in this case, we get two. If you read the second book in the series our two chosen ones are Amberle, daughter of King Eventine (Elf king played by John Rhys-Davies from…yes…LoTR) and that BDSM play as you called it was Amberle winning the blindfolded annual Gauntlet race to become the Elven Chosen ones trained to watch the magical Tree in the middle of the Kingdom. Yes, a magical tree, but this is more than just Groot on steroids, this tree is the protective force field that surrounds the kingdom from the Demons wanting to rape and pillage.
Savanna: You got all that from watching this? My initial thoughts were that this is really a CW-type-feeling show, the dialogue sucks, the acting is mediocre, New Zealand is beautiful, and the demons and graphics are pretty good–but nothing monumental. Maybe I’m harsh but since it is past my bedtime…I’m not in the mood for sugar coating. What are your thoughts, Lance? Are you also concerned why everyone looks so pretty and pristine while they are in the middle of nowhere in a world that doesn’t seem to have an abundance of hair gel and airbrush makeup? Are Wil Ohmsford’s (Austin Butler) lips always that pouty, or is that just his whiny character’s appeal? The character’s comic relief is also very, very dry. I feel that if they would have had the actors use their actual voice and their actual accents than it would have seemed more realistic. The fact that they made everyone have an American accent was a little off putting. Also, there could have been a little diversity in the cast as well.
TN Lance: Hey, it’s better that that Vampire Diaries crap you watch. And that winey actor you are talking about is half-elf Will Ohmsford, who falls right off of the Luke Skywalker farm-boy mold by being unaware of the larger world out there. Just like in Star Wars, a wise tough mentor Don’t-call-him-Deathstroke Allanon (Manu Bennett) comes to explain that Wil is the one of the last living descendant’s of Shannara, like a badass Jedi on crack! Maybe all this jumping around you’re complaining about is the tried-and-true let’s explain everything through expository questions asked between Will and Allanon. After this 2-hour beginning, Amberle and Will’s futures have joined and all the action begins for the next episodes and their journey.
Savanna: ZZZZZZZZZ…. If we are being completely honest here…I fell asleep the last 30-minutes of the show, so maybe Lance can elaborate. But I’m not a fan. While MTV’s heart was definitely in the right place, they are taking a book written in the 70s and 80s and making it into a show that appeals to young adults. Everyone now is used to Game of Thrones where there’s constant suspense and grizzly looking people. The Shannara Chronicles gives away these huge clues of who people are or how they are meant to be these great people or elves. Maybe I am biased, but I like the appeal of always wondering what is going to happen next and wondering where people came from and how they got there. We still have no idea who Jon Snow’s mom is or if he’s even alive…I like that appeal. What about you, Lance?
TN Lance: I agree with some of what you say. Does this series work? That’s a tough one even for me, being a fan of the books. The bar is always low for fantasy series to work to start with; but since the source material was meant more for Adults over YA with its heavy-handed jargon, it’s still mixed with the MTV category of bored-Millennials that don’t know if they want to bitch, cry or fuck. This likely has a lot to do with this show being passed up by theatrical studios and CW for the less viewer-worthy MTV. Thankfully being in the era of Game of Thrones or Hunger Games or even Divergent **cough, cough**, Savanna, fans will appreciate the world-building.
Savanna: Hold on, I don’t think that people should just give up on the show altogether. I’m not. I’m going to give it a few more episodes before I give my full opinion. Everyone should give it a try and go in with an open-mind. I may even stay awake for the next episode. Maybe I’m just a bitter woman living with her mom in Naples, FL; maybe that’s why I didn’t like this fantasy show as much as other people will. There are some major die hard fans out there just waiting to enrapt themselves in the Shannara Chronicles. My rating = 2/5 LoTR’s Bibles.
TN Lance: Though not as well acted or having the production value as say its bigger cousin Game of Thrones, it does semi-hold its on in the shadows. Surely not award-worthy, but if you were a fan of the original source material — or just love fantasy series like I do — give it a try. I mean, if Hercules or Xena could go for however-many-years, this show may have some legs to stand. I’ll go with = 3.25/5 Feast for Crows.