Now, I haven’t watched a show on MTV since Korn was #1 on TRL, but I can’t turn down a show about elves, especially one where the guy who plays Gimli on LOTR is their king. The Shannara Chronicles is a 10-episode fantasy epic on MTV based on The Sword of Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks. The first season actually follows the second book, The Elfstones of Shannara. I would describe this show as Fallout mixed with Elder Scrolls attempting teenage sex appeal. I found this wildly entertaining.
The story is very difficult to explain briefly, but I will try anyway. Basically, the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic America where somehow Elves, Humans, Trolls, and Gnomes live together, albeit unharmoniously. The elves are considered to be pompous assholes who think they’re in charge of everything. They have this tree of life, for lack of better words, called the Ellcrys, which happens to be dying. The Ellcrys has been keeping demons at bay, but every time it sheds a leaf, a new demon is brought to life.
This causes Allanon, the last remaining Druid, to be summoned to help fix things. Luckily, he has elfstones that are the most effective weapon that can be used against demons. The previous owner of the elfstones went crazy and died, so he seeks the next best thing – his half-elf son Wil to use the elfstones to fight the demons. Alanon and Wil meet up with elf princess Amberle, and they set out on an impossible quest to save the Ellcrys and in turn, save the world. They meet up several times with Eretria, a human rover, who steals the elfstones several times to earn her freedom. She ends up becoming part of the quest as well as a member of the Will-Amberle-Eretria love triangle.
I don’t know how much of the (mild) sex scenes, love triangles, and teenage lust were part of the books – I haven’t read them. This and the extremely loud music that often overshadowed the dialogue were my major gripes about this show. The only redeeming quality was toward the end of the series, when Eretria and Amberle put aside their differences and work together to help save the Ellcrys. It’s cute, trust me.
It’s not all love and bunnies, though. Gnomes are ridiculously ugly to look at. The weaponry is awesome – swords fold out like Transformers. Also, Alanon has a respawn point whenever he dies. The demons are creepy as hell and the place where they spawn looks like an oblivion gate.
When the show was first announced, I had never heard of Terry Brooks or his book series. I looked it up and found that most people called the Shannara books a rip-off of Lord of the Rings. To this day, I have still not read the books, but I definitely intend to because I liked the show so much.
This is definitely a guilty pleasure show that I would not go publicizing around that I like. Mostly, this is because I am old, and don’t want to admit to watching anything on MTV.
The Shannara Chronicles has some very “interesting” casting. The king of the elves is played by John Ryhs-Davies, who famously played the proud dwarf, Gimli, in the Lord of the Rings movies. Other fun casting choices that I loved were Manu Bennett as the druid, Allanon and Ivana Baquero (the little girl from Pan’s Labyrinth) as Eretria.
I’m not very familiar with the public reception of this show. I loved it, but I can’t imagine the average MTV viewer being able to stomach more than five minutes of it. I can’t imagine either one of my super trendy teenage nieces being able to make it through an episode. I’m guessing this is MTV’s attempt at jumping on the nerd bandwagon.