MTV is adding Terry Brooks’ fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles to the lineup in January. Not to be confused with Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth or Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. If you’ve read all three authors, you may be a titch confused by the similar story arcs, but I’ll break it down for you in terms of difficulty.
Terry Goodkind is a little darker than Robert Jordan, and Robert Jordan is a little slower-paced than Terry Brooks. I’m thinking MTV chose Terry Brooks’ second Shannara book to launch the show as it’s perhaps a little more exciting (utilizing a more widely accessible vocabulary) than the work of the aforementioned authors.
And let’s face it, we’re running out of books to turn into movies, aren’t we? Why not pick the largest fantasy series that we can find?
The story arc of The Shannara Chronicles is most similar to the Lord of the Rings series, as a lone character ventures out from his isolated hovel to embark on a mission, ultimately gaining help from a magical friend along the way. The same can be said for any plotline that follows the Joseph Campbell formula, and this encapsulates most fictionalized hero journeys whether in print or on TV. Critics are saying Shannara is a direct rip off LotR, though, as it’s being filmed in New Zealand, too. (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was also filmed in this otherworldly country setting.)
I’ve got to say that Shannara has a special place in my heart (though Goodkind’s series is a little more jarring and thus stuck on the back burner, unlikely to receive any proper media attention… poor Mordsiths…) what with the lengthy walks and long-winded descriptions of the bobbing and weaving of the trees in the breeze.
If you haven’t read the series, you might be interested to watch the show at least until the next round of Game of Thrones comes back to HBO–just to get your temporary fix of fantasy lore. And if you’ve ventured into the realm of obscure foreign films, you might recognize one of your favorite leading ladies in Ivana Bacquero, who played Ofelia in Pan’s Labyrinth. (Boy, did I bawl my eyes out during that movie…)
This may come as a shock to reality-TV lovers who have become accustomed to tuning into MTV for their primetime dose of scripted chaos, but if you take into account the fact that the channel was indoctrinated into the airwaves as a medium for music videos back in the 90s and is now a source for fantasy series, it’s really no surprise that the producers behind the switchboard will jump on any hot, new trend.
In any case, MTV is taking on the new Shannara series, which is due to air on Tuesday, Jan. 5.