Why You Should Watch Legend of the Seeker
I’ve written articles in the past about science fiction and fantasy television shows, but I’ve never singled one out until now. Part of the reason I am focusing on this particular show is because it was canceled at the end of its second season and the fans (myself included) are attempting to revive the show by spreading awareness of its existence. However telling you that it has a fan following doesn’t do much to convince you that you should watch it. So while I want everyone to help Save Our Seeker, the only purpose of this article is to get you to give the show a try.
This is the first book in the Sword of Truth series written by Terry Goodkind. It was the inspiration for the first season of Legend of the Seeker.
If you are not familiar with the show:
Legend of the Seeker is based on a book series called “The Sword of Truth” written by Terry Goodkind. If you haven’t read the book series, that isn’t a problem. In fact you might benefit from not having read the books (I’ll discuss that later), because you have no expectations going in. It does require, however, that you are at least a moderate fan of the fantasy genre. The show revolves around a young man named Richard Cypher who, after saving a mysterious woman in white named Kahlan, discovers that he is destined for greater things. After realizing one of his close friends is actually one of the most powerful wizard’s alive, Richard is named the “Seeker of Truth” a position that sets him up as the savior of a world ravaged by Darken Rahl. I’ve seen a lot of fantasy movies and television shows, but few of them really get the genre right. And when I say fantasy, I mean the high fantasy that is rooted entirely within the fantasy world and involves a rich environment and cast of characters. Lord of the Rings pulled it off best, but if there was ever a television show that came close to that, it’s Legend of the Seeker. So if you liked Lord of the Rings, or any kind of fantasy, this show deserves your attention.
Cast and Storylines
I’m not going to go into a detailed description of each episode but I will say that the show touches on a number of deep subjects. What do you do when you give birth to a baby that you know will grow up to be a monster? Can people who have been trained to torture their whole lives really be redeemed? How can you save the world when prophecy says you’re destined to destroy it? These questions and more are addressed in Legend of the Seeker. But even though the show brushes on some difficult topics, it is also a lot of fun. The show is filled with heroic moments, devious villains, comic relief and, with a strong special effects team, you are seamlessly drawn into a world of unusual creatures. The show is filmed in New Zealand, the same place they filmed Lord of the Rings, and it creates a beautiful backdrop for the stories the writer’s are telling. This is only underlined by the top notch props and costumes that further solidify this fantasy world. The cast is also a joy to watch and I’ll address them each below:
Craig Horner as
I had mixed feelings about Craig Horner playing Richard, since I am a fan of the books. He didn’t match the build of the character who was more muscular, kind of like a Kevin Sorbo. However the more episodes I saw, the more I liked Craig Horner’s portrayal of Richard. Yes, it is different from the book, but he brings a charming innocence to the role, making Richard much more compassionate and caring. That’s not to say the book Richard isn’t compassionate or caring, but he does have a tendency to be more calculated and philosophical in the books.
Bridget Regan as
Bridget Regan is quite possibly my favorite casting choice. She fits the role of Kahlan so well that it didn’t even feel like she was portraying the book character; she just was Kahlan. She is able to pull off the strength, love and intelligence of the character with such ease and she always looks beautiful doing it. If I were ever to assemble a dream cast for these books, there could be no Kahlan other than Bridget Regan.
Bruce Spence as
Zeddicus Zu’l Zorander:
I wasn’t sure how Bruce Spence was going to come off as Zedd. The wizened wizard is a great source of comic relief in the books, but at the same time he also commands a great deal of knowledge and from it; respect. Bruce Spence is definitely the right build of the skinny, grey-haired wizard, and he has his moments as both comic relief and dangerous foe. He wouldn’t have been my first choice for the role, but he certainly makes it his own over the course of the show’s two seasons.
Craig Parker as Darken
For me the biggest upset for casting has to be Craig Parker as Darken Rahl, the show’s primary villain. I could get over the change in hair color from the book, but the age was a big barrier for me. Darken Rahl was depicted as an older man in the book, and Craig Parker, despite his skill at playing evil, just didn’t fit the build. This leads to further changes of the character’s lore that are, quite possibly, my only complaints with the show. Having said that, they follow some interesting storylines with the character that were never explored in the book.
Tabrett Bethall as
Cara doesn’t show up until the second season of the show, but Tabrett Bethall does a wonderful job portraying the dangerous, yet loyal, Mord-Sith. She has just the right combination of sarcasm and deadly precision that you would expect from the character in the book (possibly a little more sarcasm). This was another top notch casting job, though I do wish the character had been given more time to grow.
If you’ve read the books, but don’t care for the show:
As a fan of the books, I’ve noticed a number of inconsistencies in the show. It has a tendency to pull material from much later books in the series and change certain character relationships. Anyone who has ever loved a book and seen it adapted into a visual medium will know what I’m talking about. You can feel betrayed by how much they deviate from the original storyline. I will admit, I felt this way several times while watching Legend of the Seeker. However, every quarrel I had with it was lost when I watched it a second time. I discovered this when I was showing the first season to my father-in-law. You see, the first time I watched it; I was so caught up in how well it adapted the books that I was only half-enjoying each episode. The second time, I already knew what they had changed and I could just watch every episode for what it was. And that’s what I ask you to do: if you think the show deviates too much from the book, just forget about the books for a second and judge it as its own show. Think of it as an ‘inspired-by’ project rather than an adaptation, and I guarantee you’ll find a lot more to love. If, however you still find yourself upset by the changes, consider that both the books and the show can co-exist as a split timeline. I call it the "Panis Prophecy" theory and I detailed it in my hub "Resolving the Differences between the Seeker and the Sword".
Here is a link to the first season DVDs on Amazon. It makes a great addition to any collection of fantasy television.
Where do we go from here?
Okay, well the show isn’t for everybody. If you’ve given it a chance and still don’t like it, then it’s a matter of opinion, and I can’t change that. But for those of us that like the show, its cancellation might not be the end of this story. There are a few things to consider going forward: The Tribune company, which dumped Legend of the Seeker, was one of many that carried the show so, despite the loss, there are others that would have renewed it. Also they dropped the show because they went bankrupt, not necessarily because they didn’t think it could continue. (This information was gathered from the Save our Seeker Facebook page.) Also its cancellation came rather abruptly; giving abc very little time to find a replacement provider before the next season would have gone into production. The result is that we didn’t get a third season.
But there is still hope. Aside from the overwhelming efforts of Save our Seeker, renewal of canceled television shows is not unheard of. I’m a fan of the show Futurama, which got canceled roughly three years ago. There was a strong fan base for the show and its DVD sales, combined with syndication, resulted in four straight-to-DVD movies within the universe. These movies then led to the show’s resurrection on Comedy Central. Another example is two shows by one of my favorite writers: Joss Whedon. His most famous show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer was set to end after the fifth season on the WB, but was picked up for two additional seasons on UPN. And Firefly, a show that only got half of a season to its name, had a fan base strong enough to justify a major motion picture (Serenity). These are only a few examples, without even getting into Family Guy’s back and forth with Fox or Scrubs playing out its final season on abc after departing from NBC. There are plenty of success stories to suggest that a revival of Legend of the Seeker is still possible and I encourage anyone who reads this article to post any other shows they know of that have been brought back from the brink.
For more great movies and television you may have missed, visit my feature: Why You Should Watch.