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Monday, August 31, 2009

TV Watch: Legend Of The Seeker

Right now everyone seems to be talking about the return of Mad Men, or Leverage or, you know ... really good shows. Here at Cathode, we're not so predictable.

The Girl and I started watching Sam Raimi's latest episodic show, Legend Of The Seeker simultaneously obeying the same rules that got me watching Street Fighter ... but interestingly we're now half way through the first season off the old Roku.

Let's get the really bad stuff out of the way. The two hour premiere, consisting of two episodes and a lot of generic plot setup, is simply terrible. The entire show seems, at this point, to be derived from something else. There are Matrix style projectiles flying into 300 style fight scenes. Parts lifted from the Bible, and an overall plot that seems to read almost exactly like Star Wars: A New Hope.

Spoilers exist in this paragraph, so skip to the next if you wish. But let me see if I get this one right. A Confessor/R2D2 escape the Evil Empire/D'Harrans to enter an alien forest/desert and stumble on a farmboy/wilderness guide who helps them but in reality is related to the message/book for Old Ben Kenobi/Old Zed who is a hermit who lives nearby and has been watching them closely because they're the Seeker/Vader's kid so that when the time is right they can give them a lightsaber/magical sword so that they can defeat the incoming Imperial Soliders/D'Harrans who end up burning down Luke/Richard's foster father's/uncle's house and killing them before they can escape from the alien forest/planet and then end up getting some training from Obi Wan Kenobi/Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander who is really a Jedi/Wizard so that they can fulfill their destiny and become a Jedi Knight/Seeker and defeat Darth Vader/Darken Rahl.

About sum it up right? Probably not the best grammar, Bridget Regan doesn't really deserve comparison to a squat utility droid and OK, some of this isn't entirely fair since it isn't like this formula is particularly unique ... though when you chuck in the subplot about the identity of Richard's father - the similarity feels a bit thick.

Toss on some questionable editing, questionable dialogue, and questionable directing - and the premiere to the show feels about as campy as any episode of Hercules or Xena, just nowhere near as intentional. Or funny. However, television shows need to start somewhere ... the real question is whether they can go anywhere.

Seeker gets better. It still stumbles a little, but strong performances from the principals and much, much, much better writing in later episodes pay off quite well. The show is based on Goodkind's Sword Of Truth series of books and does its best when it delves into the more unique aspects of the novels, such as Confessors and Mord'Sith. There's a decent payoff half-way through the first season and while the show may not be destined for greatness, it certainly feels comfortable as a weekend or late night watch.

Recommended, though not strongly - but particularly if you have Netflix Instant and some spare hours. Hercules and Xena fans will notice favorites like Ted Raimi and Michael Hurst. You may just skip the premiere, as there's a clip show episode mid way through that more or less recaps it anyway, with enough editing to hide some of the more embarrassing parts.

Update: Finished Season One. I would upgrdage "gets better" to "gets much better" by the end. The finale is almost like a completely different show from the premiere. Don't get me wrong - it is still very genre, and they are still some unintentional campiness, but the show is far less annoyingly derivative and far more entertaining by the end.

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