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Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Legend of the Seeker Season Two DVD Review

The second season of the fantasy show is based on Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series which ended the shows run. The show was produced by Renaissance Pictures the production company owned by Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, who had previously produced other fantasy shows such as Hercules – The Legendary Journeys, Xena – The Warrior Princess, and one of my guilty favorites – Jack of all Trades. I liked all of those shows but they were also capable of making some terrible ones like Cleopatra 2525, so I wasn’t sure how this show would turn out. Plus, I was curious on what the tone of the show would be, as most of the Renaissance Pictures shows tend to have a light humorous tone that could border on the silly on occasion. The show lasted two years as a network television show which is a pretty good record nowadays for a fantasy show. The show had an impressive budget of $1.5 million per episode and it was filmed in New Zealand which gives it some fantastic scenery every episode. The show also won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series.


Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

During season one we discovered that although the time and location that this takes place is unknown, there however, an ancient boundary between two territories, one called Heartland and the other, the Midlands. Life in Heartland is peaceful and has no magic while the Midlands is full of magic both good and bad and it’s only a matter of time before they invaded Heartland. A young man by the name of Richard Cypher (probably a cousin of Basil Exposition), lives in Heartland and is has no idea of the destiny that is expected of him. Played by Craig Horner, Richard leads a simple life and his profession is that of an accomplished woodsman and tracker.

His life is interrupted by the appearance of a mysterious woman named Khalen who possesses magical abilities and informs Richard that he is not who he thinks he is and that he is destined to become a legendary hero known as The Seeker who is “a hero who arises in the times of trouble and suffering and seeks out evil.” He is skeptical at first but soon starts to believe her once the forces of the evil tyrant Darken Rahl (Craig Parker who played Haldir in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) follow her into Heartland. Richard also meets an seemingly crazy old man named Zeddicus (Bruce Spence) who is actually a wizard who had saved Richard’s life when he was a baby to avert a prophecy and lived nearby à la Obi-Wan Kenobi to keep any eye on him.

As Richard began to accept his destiny, the magical Sword of Truth comes into his possession and the trio set out to defeat Darken Rahl. Of course, there are challenges along the way to gain relics and opposition from the leather-clad Mord’Siths who are an elite group of women warriors who can capture other people’s magic and use it against them. In the culmination of the first season, Richard is able to finally kill Darken Rahl and everyone thinks that’s the end of it but that just leads to season two.

Now that Darken Rahl has been defeated, Richard finds out that Rahl was actually his brother and that he is now the heir to the throne of D’Hara. Killing Rahl actually caused more problems as his death has caused rifts between the normal world and the underworld of The Keeper who is essentially the Devil in this universe. Creatures known as Banelings are now escaping and killing innocent villagers and Richard is torn between seeking the Stone of Tears which can close the torn veil and assuming the role of King which would allow him access to an army that could help fight the forces of evil.

Richard is already feeling guilty for inadvertently causing the veil to open by killing Rahl and he is also struggling with his feelings for Khalen who due to her new position as Mother Confessor is unable to reciprocate hers to him. To make matters worse, Darken Rahl starts appearing to him to cause trouble even though he died. Being the heir to the throne brings other problems as old allies are incredulous to see him lead the very foes he once fought, and old enemies must now follow his orders, all of which makes for uneasy alliances and shifting loyalties. Richard, aided by Zedd and Khalen along with a former Mord’Sith named Cara (Tabrett Bethell) must find the Stone of Tears to close the veil even if Richard is prophesied to fail.


Video (3 out of 5 stars)

This is presented in wide-screen format and enhanced for 16×9 televisions and has a nice picture that really shows off the beauty of New Zealand. Colors are fairly sharp and the the detail isn’t quite as good as I had hoped for but overall this has a nice picture and it’s a shame that this isn’t being released in high definition because if it was it would look amazing. Despite that, the cinematography is excellent and along with the amazing production design and lush scenery, this looks as good as it can on DVD.


Audio (3 out of 5 stars)

The set has a serviceable Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track that could be better. While dialogue is clear and front speaker heavy, the satellite speakers and the sub-woofer aren’t used that much which is too bad for a show like this. While the track is front-heavy, it does a decent job but just like with the video quality, I would have loved to hear how this would have sounded on a high definition release.


Special Features (2 out of 5 stars)

While the extras are good quality this set is lacking in quantity. I expected more from a show that had a devoted following especially with this being the final season and all. I suspect that down the road there will be Blu-ray releases of the first and final season with a lot of good extras. In the meantime, here are the special features that this set offers:

  • Redemption Of A Mord’Sith: Meet Cara – Get To Know The Unlikely Intruder As Actress Tabrett Bethell And Filmmakers Dish On The Character’s (And Tabrett’s) Amazing Journey Through The Season
  • Under The Underworld — Producers, Directors, Writers And Conceptual Artists Reveal The Incredible Mythology And Machinations Of The Underworld
  • Extended and Deleted Scenes

Final Thoughts (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Under normal circumstances, I would rate this set as a “3″ but the series’ ambitious scale, mostly excellent special effects, fantastic production design, and amazing use of New Zealand’s beautiful scenery made me bump it up a bit. My main issues with the show are with casting as there are some roles that I believe were miscast but that’s neither here nor there as the show is over and it’s irrelevant now. I think the production crew are the real heroes of this show as the sets, costumes, choreography, special effects, and cinematography are extremely good. They also had some good guest stars like John Rhys-Davies, Charisma Carpenter, and Jolene Blalock. It’s too bad that the show couldn’t continue to finish the rest of Terry Goodkind’s novels as the show was getting better with every season. If you are a fan of fantasy sword and sorcery type of shows and movies, chances are good that you will like this show a lot!

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