The Good And The Bad Of The Shannara Chronicles

MTV’s newest drama The Shannara Chronicles comes in the form of an adaptation of a high-fantasy book series. Based on the Shannara series by Terry Brooks, the show, created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (of Smallville fame) twists fantasy with sci-fi, all with a need to cater for the young adult audience. Think of a YA-friendly Lord of the Rings. Or Game of Thrones, without the gore.

While making an impressive debut, the show has some work to do as it heads into its second season. Here’s why.

What is The Shannara Chronicles?

The show takes place in a fantasy realm that has emerged after the humans have destroyed themselves in a nuclear war. Humans have evolved into several ‘races’ - dwarves, gnomes trolls ect. But the elves were in hiding all along and have now come out after the war to dominate as the most powerful race.

With that, magic emerged from the downfall of society and breakdown of technology, but has since been lost and soon became a myth. But now its come back in the form of a demonic druid who threatens the kingdom, and our band of heroes must stop it. The demons are now fleeing after being locked in by an ancient tree called the Ellcrys. Now our heroes Amberle Elessedil (Poppy Drayton), Wil Ohmsford (Austin Butler) and Eretria (Ivana Baquero) must save the Ellcrys from dying and stop the demons.

The Good

Aside from the show’s young and older cast, it’s easy to get pulled in to the world that the show creates. Yes, this is essentially Lord of the Rings for teens but the show has much more to offer than being a rip-off. It’s originality lies in the setting - the characters live in the Four Lands, territories that have been spilt up after the nuclear war. The post-apocalyptic nature of the story adds a sci-fi element, similar to The 100, but that’s cleverly mixed with fantasy. In a time where all we can think about is stories that look at a post-apocalyptic stories following The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner series, The Shannara Chronicles has found a way to do that on TV. The nature of the elven race is fascinating, as are the druids, more specifically, Allanon (Manu Bennett) humans who possess magic. The show has a lot to celebrate - but it also comes with its faults.

The Bad

The main problem with the show is the writing. While the story is intriguing, there’s still a lot of work to be done. The dialogue is often too painful, and too modern. There’s not really any resemblance to what characters from this type of world should speak, but that’s something that can be improved. Even though this is supposed to be the United States 2000 years later, the show bears no resemblance to race; the only skin colour we see is white. It wouldn’t hurt to have a darker-skinned character. In fact, everyone looks like they’ve been ripped straight out of a CW show. Everybody is 20 to 24 years old and beautiful. Not a hair is allowed out of place and muddy clothes are a no-no, even when the characters are meant to be running through the woods.

Should you watch The Shannara Chronicles?

It’s definitely worth a watch, despite its evident flaws. The show creates a universe that’s easy to get lost in, bearing resemblance to other franchises of a similar nature. While the writing and dialogue may not be as good as it can be, the story is fascinating, commenting on the human race in a subtle way and adding a fantasy element to a generic post-apocalyptic premise that we’re so fond of. While the show has plenty more room to improve in the second season, its first outing has plenty to keep the story going and characters relevant.

The Shannara Chronicles airs of 5STAR in the UK.

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