Legend Of The Seeker: The Complete First Season
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (6th November 2009).
The Show

Even though it’s been a few years since Peter Jackson changed the way that movies were watched his impact is still widely felt throughout film and television, especially fantasy. I may be getting older, but ever since the “Lord of the Rings” (2001-2003) trilogy, every big movie has to be epic, and in order to be epic it has to be two and a half hours minimum. What Jackson really did was revive mainstream interest in fantasy franchises, along with the “Harry Potter” franchise (2001-2011), though it seems like everyone has to play the “Lord of the Rings” card to get into more teen to adult oriented fantasy or the “Harry Potter” card to get into the kid’s fantasy world. Just looking at the cover for the “Legend of the Seeker” (2008-Present) first season set, it’s almost embarrassingly “Lord of the Rings.” After looking a bit deeper into the creation of the series, the involvement of Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert in production gave me hope for a fun, “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” (1995-1999) style of show that I loved in my childhood. Unfortunately what I got was an epic-fantasy imitator on a small-scale for-TV budget that shines through and doesn’t bring the fun or interest that I needed to really get into the show.

Based on the novels by Terry Goodkind, “The Legend of the Seeker” follows the titular seeker Richard Cypher (Craig Horner), who was raised in a plain life but has been apparently destined to seek out and destroy evil. But of course what’s a hero without a posse? Unlike Frodo, the seeker only rolls three deep, bringing along Kahlan (Bridget Regan) the Confessor, someone who has the power to magnify the love people have for her to help her needs, and Zedd (Bruce Spence) the goofy old wizard and Richard’s grandfather. The seeker rises to stick it to the evil Darken Rahl (Craig Parker) who wants to control and enslave the countryside while gaining ultimate power, no biggie.

While my description of the show may be a bit brief, the long and winding mythology may be one of it’s biggest detractors. The basic plot is all there; seeker seeks evil to destroy thus the show moves. What gets caught up between are a series of made up names, action sequences, minor villains and bads of the week that are try to work into some sort of coherent mythology. It’s not that shows with deep mythologies don’t work, its that the show takes it’s audience as simpletons and spends so much time trying to explain each new concept of fantasy or mysterious magic object that must be achieved in so much brevity and seriousness, it just bogs down the show.

And while there is some comedy in the show, I was hoping for so much more of an entertaining program that just wasn’t there. It isn’t quite the fault of the actors as none of theme are shamefully terrible for this sort of series, but the workings of the show just don’t pull me in to any of the characters, the stories or the rest of the show with a little fun. Instead I get a few goofy gags that either fail to work or wind up being too little too late. As a hamfisted sort of fantasy show I expected more camp and less attemptedly epic action sequences to keep me involved with the show, but after the first two episodes if I’ve already started tuning out, the show isn’t going to revive me.

The bottom line is the show may take a new story to the fantasy genre, but the angle is particularly familiar and filming in New Zealand after “Lord of the Rings” doesn’t quite help. Any fantasy movie or TV show filmed in New Zealand that looks like New Zealand will always be a “Rings” imitator visually, unless you’re doing New Zealand trying to look like Ancient Greece or somewhere else. “Seeker” is a fairly bland and unengaging show from there on out with a range from mild to abysmal effects work that could be really fun, if the show decided to have fun with it. Nothing here is offensively bad, but the show just isn’t good enough to keep watching.

All 23 episodes from the first season are included on the five disc set:

- "Prophecy" (43:28)
- "Destiny" (43:32)
- "Bounty" (42:49)
- "Brennidon" (43:29)
- "Listener" (43:30)
- "Elixir" (42:30)
- "Identity" (43:29)
- "Denna" (43:29)
- "Puppeteer" (43:29)
- "Sacrifice" (43:29)
- "Confession" (43:29)
- "Home" (42:35)
- "Revenant" (43:29)
- "Hartland" (43:26)
- "Conversion" (43:29)
- "Bloodline" (43:29)
- "Deception" (43:29)
- "Mirror" (42:34)
- "Cursed" (43:29)
- "Sanctuary" (42:49)
- "Fever" (43:29)
- "Reckoning" (43:29)

Video

Each episode is shown in a 1.78:1 anamorphic aspect ratio, but is overall inconsistent in the look of the show. Some of the effects shots work, practical lighting and subtle use of cg can come through nicely in the show. But once it comes to the massive CG sequences, obvious soundstages green screened to look like exteriors and various instances of effects work, the show stutters and fumbles to a halt. Yet still, when the show is firing it maintains a cleanliness and crispness I didn’t quite expect, but when it falls off it makes me wonder if they may have just decided to build the effects off of older computers. There are a few more moments of shine than failure, but it’s an overall mediocre experience on DVD.

Audio

The entire season is only available with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 transfer that is less inconsistent than the visuals but has it’s own set of missteps. The scoring and soundtrack of the show are impressive for the sort of production you expect from the writing and some of the visuals, but do more to enhance the “Rings” ripoff feel. Still it’s well balanced with the effects and dialogue, even if the noises of the effects will sometimes pop out just out of sheer cheesiness or generic quality that undermine the serious tone with a bit of old school “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” style camp. Sometimes I swear I can hear the same sword swishes from when Kevin Sorbo wielded the blade, but it’s mixed with the show fine enough that I can’t fault it technically.
Optional subtitles are included in English, French and Spanish.

Extras

Across the 5-disc set are the 22 episodes of the show along with an assortment of bonus features including audio commentaries, deleted scenes and a couple of featurettes as well as bonus trailers.

DISC ONE:

Audio commentary on the episode “Prophecy” is with actors Craig Horner and Bridget Regan along with executive producer Ken Biller and co-executive producer Stephen Tolkin. Here the commentary is fairly bland, going a little bit into the creation of the show, but mostly is a lot of complimenting and pats on the back for actors and props to different people for creating different characters, moments, or the like within the show. It still flows fairly well with some pauses, but it’s not all that interesting, even if you’re big into the mythology of the show because it’s mostly about acting and the show itself rather than the story of the show.

Audio commentary on the episode “Destiny” is with actors Craig Horner and Bridget Regan along with executive producer Ken Biller and co-executive producer Stephen Tolkin. As it originally aired was the second hour of a two parter with “Prophecy” and the commentary follows in the same light. Lots of talk of technical aspects of the show and compliments for the actors, though it’s really weird to hear them talk about how good the show looks visually since, other than the New Zealand landscapes, it looks really really rough. Again, not a terribly interesting commentary for those, like me, not interested in the show, but I’m still not sure how much draw it would have considering it’s mostly technical commentary and complients while the technical aspects aren’t that interesting.

Bonus trailers on the disc are:

- “ABC on DVD and Blu-Ray” runs for 1 minute and 37 seconds.
- “Lost: The Complete 5th Season” runs for 59 seconds.
- “Cheri” runs for 1 minute and 23 seconds.
- "Disney Blu-ray" runs for 1 minute and 3 seconds.

DISC TWO:

The audio commentary here is on “Denna” with actors Craig Horner and Jessica Marais, the two spend a lot of the time watching the show, but during their commentary they tend to talk about the characters and the relationships within the show. A little more interesting in terms of the show, as compared with the first two commentaries, but it’s still fairly stop and go. There’s the usual joking around, joking about the physicality of different scenes or the effects of different scenes. Not a bad commentary, lots of praise for the show, but none too great.

DISC THREE:

“Puppeteer”’s audio commentary features actors Craig Horner and Bruce Spence and might be the best flowing commentary so far. Parker and Spence seem to have a good rapport between them and manage to blend the technical side of the commentary along with jokes, praise and talk about the mythology of the seeker books and show in tandem. They cover the entirety of the episode and give enough of a mixture of behind the scenes tidbits to keep everything interesting.

DISC FOUR:

There are no extras on this disc.

DISC FIVE:

“Forging the Sword: Crafting the Legend” runs for 16 minutes and 23 seconds. This featurette serves as a general making of for the show, showing behind the scenes work along with some of the great New Zealand landscapes associated with the show. Rob Tapert finally shows up to lend some talk about the show, along with other producers, actors and crew, showing off how sets are reused, and generally how the show is brought to life. At 16 minutes the featurette is very concise, taking you right through the varied aspects of the show from production design through the actual filming without dallying too much.

“Words of Truth: A Conversation with Terry Goodkindfeaturette runs for 13 minutes and 35 seconds. This clip speaks with the author of the books that inspired the series, who almost looks like a slightly more normal version of Jackie Earle Haley. Goodkind talks aobut the importance of art, how it impacts his writing, but most if it is rightfully dedicated how he thought up the books and the characters. I’ve never read his books, but Goodkind isn’t terribly interesting to listen to on his own, but if you really want to hear from the author and are a fan of the books, it could be a real gem.

Finally are the deleted scenes, 8 in all, described below:

- “What Does Adie See?” runs for 2 minutes and 48 seconds. Adie sees trouble and gets a knife.
- “Confessor to the Seeker” runs for 1 minute and 14 seconds. Lara is doubtful about becoming confessor, Kahlan Reassures her.
- “Benedict’s Plight” runs for 2 minutes and 50 seconds. Cypher is thrown into the dungeon with Benedict who lends a helping hand
- “Using Pain” runs for 4 minutes and 51 seconds. Constance tortures Cypher, cipher goes to his happy place. This seems like an extended version of the scene as it appears in the show, but here it lacks some of the music and effects.
- “Richard’s Training” runs for 1 minute and 52 seconds. More training in the weird dominatrix castle.
- “Night Confessions & Promises” runs for 4 minutes and 1 second. Villagers ask Kahlan to act as their confessor with Lara dead. Richard and Kahlan talk about the number of boxes in front of a gigantic blue screen.
- “Memories Are Slippery Things” runs for 3 minutes and 46 seconds. Zedd goes to his brother for the key but to find out it’s been sold and gets upset.
- “This Is The Truth” runs for 2 minutes. Kahlan admits her feelings for Richard through a series of flashbacks.

bonus trailers on this disc are:

- “Up” runs for 2 minutes and 32 seconds.
- “10 Things I Hate About You: 10th Anniversary Special Edition” runs for 57 seconds.
- “The Proposal” runs for 1 minute and 32 seconds.
- “Old Dogs” runs for 2 minutes and 32 seconds.

Packaging

Packaged in a 5-disc amaray case housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The Show: D+ Video: C+ Audio: B- Extras: D+ Overall: C

 


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