The Shannara Chronicles comes across as an innovative show wrapped in a familiar covering, which is an innovative approach in itself. Season one had many reviewers unsure in which box to put it, but the mere fact that it debuted on MTV was attention-getting. It got our attention.
Though it even initially seems a bit out of place on scified.com, The Shannara Chronicles falls into the genre of fantasy, which some see as only skirting on the edge of sci-fi. A fantasy world is created that is somewhat escapist where viewers become immersed in a make-believe world.
Though the Shannara Chronicles is based on books written in the 70s, which makes the content somewhat dated, it inevitably took some product innovation both in front of the camera and behind the scenes to create buzz among viewers. The love triangle between Wil, Amberle and Eretria is not often seen in a such a series.
There has long been a debate about fantasy versus science fiction where science fiction is seen as improbable where fantasy is seen as impossible. However, “possible” is highly subjective hence the blurred lines.
The season based on the 1982 book written by Terry Brooks is somewhat reminiscent of the “Lord of the Rings” with elves, trolls and similar creatures with pointed ears. The series was also filmed in picturesque New Zealand as the post-apocalyptic backdrop; the tried and true location for the fantasy/science fiction genre.
As we’ve seen in season one, there are many ways to innovate a product, though it was a loose adaptation of the bestselling “The Elfstones of Shannara”. There’s always the angst felt by the purists who read the books and reject any efforts to turn them into film, but many readers thought that season two might adapt the next book “The Wishsong of Shannara”, a 20-year old story, with more creative license, which will allow the producers to keep building confidence in the initial storyline and characters. The result will be a story not yet committed to print but is a novel approach for the book aficionados and will keep the viewership happy. Readers may be appeased by the introduction of the unpredictable Mareth who is reminiscent of Mareth from the “First King of Shannara”, which was set a few centuries before “Elfstones”.
Surprisingly, the series has succeeded in contemporizing the book to meet an unspoken requirement of science fiction so that it has an element of something current. And the new season is filled with fresh yet recognizable cast members that are very easy on the eye.
However, the show is still finding its feet and there is still room for growth as it transforms over time. Though reviewers in their ivory towers who critique it for a lack of coherence, the departure from the book (of course) and some who even revile it for “ridiculousness” (after all, one-third of the love triangle did turn into a tree), this does not stop it from having a loyal following. Hopefully, this short-form TV series with 10 episodes will prove them wrong.