Special Report by Agent Z
MTV is planning to launch a televised Shannara series. I imagine my reaction to the announcement was shared by most fans of the popular fantasy novels. MTV, really? The network known for producing reality television was taking on the massive undertaking of adapting Terry Brooks’ novel, The Elfstones of Shannara. My initial anticipation was tepid given my negative perception of the network’s programming.
But The Shannara Chronicles seems hell-bent in making a believer out of me. They’ve released a gorgeous trailer showing many of the characters and settings that populate the popular fantasy novel. The series will benefit from a high production value and will be shot in New Zealand. The country’s majestic settings will help immerse the audience in Shannara’s Four Lands.
There are a number of high profile people attached to this project. Jon Favreau is an executive producer and has garnered much acclaim for his work with Marvel. The fact that he credits Dungeons & Dragons for helping him develop as a writer and producer is really encouraging. Terry Brooks is also an executive producer. Having the author directly involved insures the source material is still honored while the show runners exercise creative liberty to tailor his tale to television. I was excited to hear Manu Bennett would play the role of the druid, Allanon. Bennett is best known for playing Crixus in Spartacus and will provide a powerful presence for the younger cast.
That being said, there are cringe worthy scenarios that could play out. MTV markets to a young audience. Given that the creative team behind Smallville is handling the adaptation, there might be an overemphasis on romantic tension. I’m happy with the idea of Amberle and Eretria being tweaked a bit. The Elfstones was written back in 1982. Female characters just weren’t as prominent or powerful as they appear in many modern works. Empowering these characters would be great without simultaneously reducing them to opposing points in a love triangle.
My other concern would be how the show handles magic, battles, and their consequences. Terry Brooks has always been consistent in showing the dangers of wielding magic. Its addictive and dangerous, ultimately changing those who use it irrevocably. This impacts most of the characters in the novel and can’t be glazed over. And a semblance of realism in battle is required despite this taking place in a fictional, fantasy world. If characters continue to be placed in hopeless situations and escape unscathed then there are no real consequences to engage us.
Taking everything into considering, I can’t deny my excitement for the Shannara Chronicles. The Elfstones of Shannara was the first novel I read as a child. I am the geeky, fantasy obsessed Puerto Rican I am today because of Shannara. I want this show to succeed. Do you all remember how you felt when you walked into the theatre to see Lord of The Rings for the first time? That nervous anticipation you felt? Yeah, I’m feeling that all over again. January 2016 can’t come soon enough.
Agent Z is stationed in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He is an avid writer and poet. You can follow him on twitter @ZapataWordsmith and read his writing at JasonZapata.com.