Legend of the Seeker

January 15, 2009


So you may have seen this show if you are a fan of the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I started reading the books a few years ago and thoroughly enjoy the series. When I heard in November that ABC studios was doing a show based on the Sword of Truth series I was both excited and afraid at the same time. As with most book adaptations it seems they fall into either one of two categories. Amazingly awful that you want to rip your eyes out of your head and are sorry you ever watched or they manage to do a decent job of only butchering the story somewhat.


Unfortunately, so far the Legend of the Seeker series seems to have done the best it could at butchering the original story. My question is "Why?". During the shows opening, it explains that the show is based on the Sword of Truth series, it should be changed to say "Based extremely loosely on the Sword of Truth series", as the show takes bits and pieces from seemingly wherever from any of the books at will and decides to make an episode. On top of that, some episodes are completely made up as if there isn't enough material in the books to make episodes. As a fan of the books I would have been much happier if they just retold the first book more or less as it was without all the unnecessary fabrication. They are doing an episodic series, which gives them the ability to provide back story to fill in a new audience about the world in which Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd reside.


Why in the hell didn't they take advantage of that? Movies often fall short because you can't make a 10 hour long epic that explains every little detail so book adaptations almost always disappoint because they can't simply include everything. A TV series doesn't have to sacrifice as much, but for some reason the shows writers decided to completely wipe out some major plot points in the first couple of episodes for no reason. When watching the show it's almost like you can feel the writers/directors fighting about which direction to move the series. On the one hand, there are a few of the early episodes that were completely created out of nothingness. It's as if they wanted to treat the series as the old "Kung Fu" with David Carradine, one single man who moves from town to town solving problems except he has a fancy sword. Then suddenly, they throw the plot of the first book back into the mix, like "Oh yeah, we were going to go stop this Darken Rahl guy... totally forgot about that, my bad. Wait, why are we against him? He is bad, but who cares... oh yeah he wants this box of Orden thingy, yet we don't know why that is bad."  Anyone care to explain to me why it took to get to episode 7 before we find the plot of the first book, except they don't even fully explain why the 3 boxes of Orden are important?


Now that the series seems to be ending it's first season which looks like it will culminate loosely with the end of the first book, at least the episodes aren't completely off topic but they aren't that close to the mark either. I can't help but shake my head when certain things happen for no reason like in the last episode "Denna". Even though Kahlan is the last of her kind and Mother Confessor, let's just have another Confessor hiding out in a town not far away who has confessed all of the townspeople. I mean what the hell is the point of that? Instead this episode should have been split into two areas, Richard getting trapped by Denna and experiencing the TV-PG version of his Mord-Sith training while the rest of the episode could have explored the castle in which the 3rd box of Orden was hidden by the wizard Giller and Rahl's attempts at finding it. Totally setting up what looks to be the conclusion of that in the very next episode. Instead they for some reason decide to make a point of showing that Richard can use the magic of the sword to turn the blade white to kill Denna, but have Kahlan there to rescue him? And then on top of that Denna comes back to life? They hardly explore the fact that Denna falls in love with Richard and wants to be free of her Mord-Sith life knowing that Richard is her only way out. They briefly mention Richard partitioning his mind, which essentially is one of his most important skills, but these trivial references which have major impact on the plot of the book are basically useless to the direction the TV series has taken.


Despite these faults, I still have my Tivo set to record the episodes, I figure I'll ride out the rest of this first season and see if they manage to make it any better, but it's fast becoming the show I love to hate. Maybe it's worth taking a shot of whiskey every time there is another inconsistency in the plot of the series. I can't see many fans of the books being happy with they direction they have taken the show so far. I have a feeling the show will be canceled after this single painful season, in fact it would have to be since they can't do the 2nd book of the series. Episode 5 ruined the entire plot of the 2nd book.


In other recent news, another of my favorite series "The Wheel of Time" by Robert Jordan has been licensed for an MMO video game and they plan on making movies of all the novels. Again I find myself anxious and dreadful at the same time. Hopefully they will fair a bit better in their exploits with that series than ABC's studios venture "Legend of the Seeker".