The Shannara Chronicles Season 1 – Release Date: 2016

 

Season 1

Episode Guide

Chosen Part 1
Chosen Part 2
Fury
Changeling
Reaper
Pykon
Breakline
Utopia
Safehold
Ellcrys

 

On paper, The Shannara Chronicles has all the tools it needs to bring Terry Brook’s fantastic books to life. While it was never going to be a huge sweeping epic like Lord Of The Rings, or have the same intricate characterisation and shocks Game Of Thrones is famous for, the traditional fantasy setting and compelling plot should have been enough. Unfortunately, The Shannara Chronicles suffers from poor scripting and wonky dialogue choices; accentuated by a forced love triangle that doesn’t work. Despite the over-arching plot being endearing enough regardless of budget constraints, the show still feels like a missed opportunity that doesn’t quite do the books justice.

The story revolves around the Four Lands and the awakening of ancient Druid Allanon (Manu Bennett). He warns of a growing threat of demons about to be unleashed as the ancient tree that protects the world, the Ellcry, is beginning to die. Every time a leaf falls another demon is unleashed. In terms of plot, its certainly engrossing enough and moves along at a steady pace with growing suspense as the demon force grows. When different breeds of demon attack the elven kingdom and inflitrate the palace, its cleverly done with enough menace and action to keep the show feeling fresh. At odds with this though is the trio of main characters whom the world’s fate falls with. Half elf Wil (Austin Butler), Elven princess Eretria (Ivana Baquero) and rogue Amberle (Poppy Drayton) are given enough time to grow but the script does them absolutely no favours.

Its clear very early on that The Shannara Chronicles is a show catered for the young teen audience. The characters are overly sexualised, with more than a few scenes featuring kissing and making love, one in particular completely unncessary during the impeding demon onslaught in the climactic episode. Coupled with the tendency for the script to throw in modernised slang that juxtaposes with the rest of the characters, The Shannara Chronicles makes for a slightly frustrating watch. Terms like “real bad” and “sloppy seconds” are some of thee worst examples here and the unnecessary emphasis on the three characters’ love triangle draws the attention away from the overarching plot which is actually very well constructed, sprinkled with good bursts of action.

Die-hard fans of the book may well be horrified with the job MTV have done here but its at least commendable that they’ve tried to tailor this excellent fantasy epic to a new market. Oftentimes its forced romances are poorly managed but the actors do a good job of at least trying to make the script work. Its one of the worst parts of this fantasy show that does get quite a few things right.

The special effects are generally good, with a clever use of practical effects and CGI. The character and costume design are good but despite the time spent with the main characters, the supporting cast are arguably more interesting. Druid Allanon is good in his role, commanding an air of dominance and mystery in equal doses woven through his lines. The enemies the characters face, including a horde of witches, are also impressively realized. If you can forgive that the show does mess up some of the locales and the storyline doesn’t follow the books to a tee, there are still positives to take from this show – most of which in the visual design, lighting and sweeping vistas which do a great job of showing off the world.

Overall though, The Shannara Chronicles is simply an average fantasy story. There are elements of the show that make it an engrossing watch – interesting characters, good twists, great lighting and an excellent aesthetic make up the bulk of this but its let down by some clumsy dialogue choices. The main characters are arguably the worst part of the show too; locked in a forced love triangle that devalues the impact the over-arching plot should have on the characters. Its a fun ride while it lasts, but ultimately The Shannara Chronicles is not a show that will go down in history as a memorable fantasy adventure.

  • 5.5/10
    Verdict - 5.5/10
5.5/10