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There is actually a fantasy adventure series on television
March 16, 2009 11:15 PM   Subscribe

Legend of the Seeker is a syndicated TV show based on Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth novels from some of the people behind the mid-90s Hercules show and Xena: Warrior Princess. It is in a similar vein, yet now with more earnestness. The entire series is available on Hulu for your enjoyment.
posted by The Devil Tesla (58 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Seeker is much more serious than Hercules and Xena.

Hrmm... I might give it a shot, but the humor was why I liked those shows. By the way, I am so happy that Raimi is making a return to horror with Drag Me To Hell. I'll probably be let down, but damn that's a good trailer.
posted by brundlefly at 11:22 PM on March 16, 2009


"The entire series is available on Hulu for your enjoyment."

Unless you're outside the US. In which case you're fucked.
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:36 PM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I caught the first couple of episodes, and lost interest. It covers fairly well known fantasy tropes.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:40 PM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Those books started out okay, but they ended up being hopelessly tedious lectures on the Evils of Socialism. The hero is Perfect in All Things. Even if you and everyone else think he's making a horrid mistake, he's always correct. Through dint of sheer hard work he uses his capitalist will to overthrow the socialist empire.

You might think I'm kidding. I wouldn't blame you. But I'm not.

Before it went all Horatio Alger, it was kind of fun. But stay far, far away from these books unless you like simplistic lessons pounded into your head with ever-larger implements. By the time I gave up on them, around book five (I can't believe I held on that long, to be honest), his subtlety had dropped to jackhammer-to-the-cranium levels. Considering how rapidly he was ratcheting up the Life Lessons of Capitalism angle, I suspect having the likely backhoes dropped on your head in later volumes might be bad for your mental health.

I think the chance of this series being any good is roughly comparable to the chance of G.W. Bush being thought of as a good President.
posted by Malor at 11:41 PM on March 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Okay, I'll bite. I've watched more than one episode of this show, and it's fairly terrible: bad acting, trite human drama, forgettable plotting. I actually even knew going in that Seeker is a more serious attempt from the creators of Hercules and Xena, but, while these two shows were pretty awful, they could at least be entertaining in their camp. (Really, even Dresden is better.)

However, I don't want to sour this post with such harsh criticism, so I'll be nice and ask in all earnestness:
1. How does Goodkind's Seeker distinguish itself from other, similar fantasy novels?
2. What distinguishes the television series from others of its kind? (i.e., If I wanted to appreciate this show (which, obviously, I have not yet,) what should I be paying attention to?)

In Chinese classical poetry, we have a concept called 詩眼 [1] [2] which refers to the lines in the poem of particular note. I often wish posters in these media FPPs would provide this kind of guidance.

So what are Seeker's dragon eyes?
posted by Sangermaine at 11:52 PM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, when the character with a full Merlin wizard beard and all says something like, "He can't be my son! It's impossible! I used protection... magical protection." That's not supposed to be funny? Yikes.
posted by Skwirl at 12:00 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I put on my robe and wizard hat.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:21 AM on March 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I hadn't heard of this show until this post by Phil Plait on Bad Astronomy. I tried watching through the episode he links to and couldn't even make it to the part he talks about. It was horrid.
posted by vertigo25 at 12:37 AM on March 17, 2009


Through dint of sheer hard work [the hero] uses his capitalist will to overthrow the socialist empire...But stay far, far away from these books unless you like simplistic lessons pounded into your head with ever-larger implements.

From that wikipedia link: "I want you all to understand that ABC studios chose not to consult me on actors, scripts, or any other aspect of the show. I have had no input whatsoever on the TV series, so I am the wrong person to write to or complain about the show...-Terry [Goodkind]"

Sounds like ABC pounded some simplistic capitalist lessons into Terry Goodkind's head, the first of which is that television is about profit, not the infallibility of the author. In fairness, the rest of that wiki quote seems like he's not bitter or possessive of his work, unlike so many writers who get involved with Hollywood.
posted by incessant at 12:46 AM on March 17, 2009


Okay, let me be the first to say that I like it.
It's not great, it's kind of hokey, but it's solid sword&sorcery tv programming that's nice mindless fun. And while it is far more serious than Herc and Xena, it still has plenty of funy parts...some intended, and some not.

There's just not a lot of decent fantasy tv programming on these days, so it'll have to do for now.
posted by nightchrome at 1:02 AM on March 17, 2009


@Sangermaine:

Personally the Metafilter posts I like are the ones that merely present something I might find interesting, not the ones that say too much what it being presented. That is what comments are for.

In any case, there really isn't much more to say about Seeker in an introduction. The Sword of Truth novels don't really distinguish themselves from other fantasy novels other than they fact that they are immensely readable dispute being not all that good and the fact that the later books go off rails and become more and more about Goodkind's objectivist world view.

The show itself is only loosely based on the book and hasn't really moved on from the first of the novels yet, so the objectivism hasn't come into play yet. But the elements that made the books weirdly enchanting are still there, the fantasy clichés strung together in pleasing patterns.

Bottom line: Seeker is better made show than "syndicated fantasy adventure" implies, which is why I put it on Metafilter. Personally I think it raises what was admittedly a low bar, but if that isn't enough for you than feel free to skip it.

Oh, and I probably should have pointed this out in the post, but by far the best episodes are 8, which features wonderfuly weird magical dominatrixes, and 9, which showcases Zed the Wizard at his best.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:24 AM on March 17, 2009


I watch the series on hulu but I'll watch anything. I haven't seen much of the capitalist vs. socialism stuff in the television series. On the other hand I hate the confessor/seeker can't have sex without the confessor enslaving the seeker storyline. Combine that with the BDSM as epitome of evil but let's throw some in for titillation storyline and you've got a series that is just insanely anti-sex. What's going on with that?
posted by rdr at 1:54 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah. I forgot to mention. Xena was way more fun.
posted by rdr at 1:55 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The first few books of this series were quite good, but after I read three chapters of the two main characters arguing with each other NON STOP, I couldn't do it any more. I cannot imagine that it translated well to TV, especially without the author there to smack the producers when they want to do something stupid with the material.
posted by strixus at 1:58 AM on March 17, 2009


I agree with P.o.B. about the first couple of episodes, but after that I thought it improved and wasn't so derivative (although it's been a while since I was a big fantasy fan, so that may just be my lack of knowledge of the genre.) So now I'm with nightchrome. I find it enjoyable enough and don't have to think too hard about it or follow it too closely, but it's in general a solid show.

And it doesn't hurt that I find Bridget Regan (and Jessica Chapnik, who I hope is in more episodes) *very* easy to watch.
posted by blm at 3:43 AM on March 17, 2009


What the books lacked were the extensive brooding and sulking that makes for great fantasy.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:56 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh yay. More earnestness makes an absolutely ridiculously silly thing so much more -- what's the word I want? -- profound.

The whole world has turned into barbarian flick. No need for fantasy.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:09 AM on March 17, 2009


The series is utter crap, dropped it after a few episodes.
posted by kolophon at 5:17 AM on March 17, 2009


I read the first book (which was laughably bad - I literally laughed at the ending). The best part is that Terry is fine with presenting rape and murder and such but there is NO SWEARING allowed. Bags!
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:20 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Oh yay. More earnestness makes an absolutely ridiculously silly thing so much more -- what's the word I want? -- profound.

The whole world has turned into barbarian flick. No need for fantasy."


What does that even mean?
So that means that because of the state of the world nobody should read and enjoy any fantasy-novels anymore?
I guess Science Fiction is also taboo?
So tell me, what am I allowed to read then that is not absolutely ridiculous in your eyes?
posted by kolophon at 5:27 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh my, I produced a real rhetorical masterpiece there...
posted by kolophon at 5:30 AM on March 17, 2009


Sigh.

Those books meant more to me than they should have, and they were terrible, but addictive. And I was too into the story line to drop the books even after all the objectivist crap. I read all 11. Most of them several times. [5 is one of the very worst. 6 is actually decent.]

This TV series is butchering them. It's not funny, it's not quirky, and the actors are terrible. Especially Zedd. Dear God he is awful. I keep watching them because I want to know how they handle the books (especially the first four), which are so familiar and comfortable to me that I can't help but absorb anything even slightly inspired by them.

Every episode ruins one of the characters I liked. The episode about Denna (episode 8) was particularly horrible, and pretty much ruined the whole point of that character. And, with one of the more recent episodes, they have ruined any chance of resolving the show the way the first book resolves.

But, yeah. I watch it.
posted by lunit at 5:34 AM on March 17, 2009


Well, I watch it on hulu, but not out of any great love for its writing or acting. The female lead is pretty awesome, though. Actually I probably only like it because I haven't gotten to play a roleplaying game for four years or so. Nostalgia.
posted by voltairemodern at 5:44 AM on March 17, 2009


If you watch the show and hate it (a very likely possibility) don't let that spoil the books for you. The books are way better and the show is wildly divergent from the books.
posted by Godbert at 5:55 AM on March 17, 2009


I've watched every single episode and oh God I don't know why.

It's terrible. No, it's beyond terrible. Dollhouse is terrible. Legend of the Seeker makes Dollhouse seem like compelling television.

I'm not sure anyone in this thread, so far, has really explained just how bad it is. Like, the Denna episode lunit calls out as being particularly bad and untrue to the novels? Oh, it was bad, all right -- but it's also the best episode they've made so far.

They actually...get this....they actually combined a clip-show episode and an "it's all just a dream" episode into one horrible hour of television. That's not just every-day shittiness. You have to work to make TV that bad.
posted by jbrjake at 6:13 AM on March 17, 2009


Started watching this one lonely Saturday, and for some reason couldn't stop, even though 10 minutes into the first episode I knew it was going to be awful. At least I had nothing else to do that day...
posted by prototype_octavius at 6:50 AM on March 17, 2009


To all defenders of the books, I am glad you enjoyed them. But Terry Goodkind is pretty much the source of scathing ridicule on some fantasy sites. A Song of Ice and Fire forum has been ripping the snot out of these books for a couple years now. Among their issues: Terry's fascination with rape, the long speeches, Richard is perfect and without fault making him fantasy's best-selling Gary Stu, rape, S&M, the rampant objectivism speechifying, rape, the chicken that was evil incarnate, ripping off Jordan, the noble goat, near-rape, Terry proclaiming that he did not write fantasy because he wrote THE TRUTH, boring-ass speeches, the scene where Richard kicked a little girl in the face so she bit through her tongue, and of course, rape.

There are so many fantasy authors that have gone beyond the tropes of Tolkien and are worth checking out: Robin Hobb, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, Daniel Abraham, Paul Kearney, R. Scott Bakker, Steven Erikson, and of course, the holy of holies, George RR Martin. At least when a kid gets kicked out of a window in Martin's book it has consequences.
posted by Ber at 6:53 AM on March 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


That Bad Astronomy screenshot is convincing enough. Stay far, far away.
posted by DU at 6:54 AM on March 17, 2009


Whatever this show is, it ain't battlestar galactica. And if it ain't battlestar galactica, then I don't care what it is!
posted by illuminatus at 7:16 AM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I haven't seen much of the capitalist vs. socialism stuff in the television series.

You probably won't for a while. That was book 8 or so, and it was hi-larious.
posted by graventy at 7:23 AM on March 17, 2009


Crom laughs at you, he laughs from his mountain.
posted by Artw at 7:30 AM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


...and of course, the holy of holies, George RR Martin.
posted by Ber at 6:53 AM on March 17


Surely, you must be joking.
posted by Vindaloo at 7:33 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've only caught 1+1/2 episodes on TV but I have to admit- I kinda liked it in as a guilty pleasure. Several people have said that they liked Xena and Hercules because of their campiness but don't like Legend of the Seeker. I disagree; it's much funnier because it attempts to be earnest. Imagine the Beastmaster if all of the actors knew that it was a cheesy B flick and hammed it up intentionally and were always making winking in-jokes. In fact, this show is Beastmaster as fuck.
posted by Challahtronix at 7:40 AM on March 17, 2009


Damn I was just going to link to all of the fun we have at Terry's (aka Tairy Badkind) expense over at the aSoIaF forums, but I see that Ber did that already.

Evil Chickens ftw!
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:43 AM on March 17, 2009


Everything said so far about the books and the TV series is true. On that note, it has raised the bar a bit as to the whole fantasy TV thing. The preaching in the books does get annoying, but something just compels you to finish them.

Definitely on the George R.R. Martin fanclub though. He writes way better novels.
posted by lizarrd at 7:46 AM on March 17, 2009


I fully admit to falling asleep to this show once a week. I mostly just like the look of it, and how cute the confessor is. Well, and the fact that the gyrocopter guy from mad max plays the wizard with the dumbest name in the history of fantasy names, Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander.

Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander, it's like a celebration of how evocotive the letter Z is. The first syllable of the first name is actually "Zed". As a name it posseses more of the power of Z then any name in the history of names.

Or how about the uber baddy BDSM chicks? "Mord-sith". Mordor+Sith? I don't know. The hero is Richard Cypher (dick puzzle).
Box of Orden.
Book of Counted Shadows.
The Sword of Truth.

I can't imagine these are the things the tv version is taking liberties with.

I don't know where I am going with this. Just that I am guess thing the worst part of the show is probably the books they're based on, and the acting, and the editing.
Um, the sets are pretty awesome, and the outdoor parts that are shot in NZ are georgous. Did I mention the Confessor was cute?
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:58 AM on March 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Definitely on the George R.R. Martin fanclub though. He writes way better novels.

Correction: he used to write way better novels. Apparently nowadays he just travels to fan cons and soaks up the adulation instead of, y'know, finishing the series everyone likes him for.
posted by dnash at 8:13 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's just not a lot of decent fantasy tv programming on these days, so it'll have to do for now.

I used to think this way. Now I believe that life is to short to settle for crap or so-so programming just because it happens to be in a genre I like. As fans, I think we have to demand better.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:21 AM on March 17, 2009


Surely, you must be joking.

I was going to ask the same question. But then I realized I was literally judging his books by the covers, which are mainly known for having GEORGE RR MARTIN emblazoned, not to mention embosssed, across them. Never read a book with either an emblazoned (red flag) or embossed (flashing red light with klaxons) author's name.
posted by DU at 8:44 AM on March 17, 2009


I accidentally bought one of Goodkind's Sword of Truth novels, Naked Empire, during a summer vacation some years ago. It was the sort of book that a dedicated (or masochistic, perhaps) reader will finish solely on the principle that that is what one does with books. It is the only book in my adult life I have consciously destroyed.

The largest impression the book had on me was that it lied, materially, before I started reading it. The cover had some eye-catching text on it; "Come Start The Epic Adventure" or some-such. Sword of Truth is book eight in the series.

I recall most of the book to be a journey wherein the self-insertion protagonist lectures his cohorts repeatedly. The lectures happen often; during battles, while making love or rape, occasionally sleep-lecturing as though he were having fevered dreams. The journey's end was to a magically protected civilization. During these lectures, the hero is poisoned by a pacifist, and is subject to a multi-page lecture on why this is internally inconsistent. The antidote lies with the pacifist's people, beyond a magical veil nominally separating them from the rest of the world. The hero explains that it is well that pacifists are sequestered; they lack the will to power in the world. Terry Goodkind is to fantasy writing what Garth Marenghi is to television horror.

It is perhaps the worst book.
posted by boo_radley at 9:05 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is the only book in my adult life I have consciously destroyed.

[citation needed]
posted by DU at 9:08 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoa, Garth Marenghi is awesome.
posted by DU at 9:15 AM on March 17, 2009


DU - There's much more awesome where that came from.
posted by Artw at 9:17 AM on March 17, 2009


I haven't watched the series. Friends of mine that attempted to watch it as an excuse to drink and yell at the TV were stymied by the fact that the series is, apparently, not entertainingly bad. It's just plain, regular boring.

The books are awful. I like capital-e, captial-f Epic Fantasy as much as the next guy, but I mean. Even before the books become bad Ayn Rand knockoffs...

THEY BAN FIRE.

PEOPLE IN A MEDIEVAL SOCIETY SERIOUSLY CONSIDER, AND THEN GO THROUGH WITH, A PLAN TO BAN FIRE.

Look, yeah. I know. "People" are "stupid." Fuck you. No one is that stupid, even in your bizarre, creepy[1] little fantasy world.

Though, with that said, I have to say I was disappointed when I heard they weren't bringing that part of the first book to the TV show. Most of this stuff is entertaining enough that I think I'd rather skim the threads and parodies linked there than suffer through the actual books or the show.

[1] - Don't get me started on the Pit Of Rapists.
posted by sparkletone at 9:18 AM on March 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


the holy of holies, George RR Martin

Fool!

Martin is way overrated. Bakker is 5 times the writer he is.

NERD WAR.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:08 AM on March 17, 2009


Thanks Ber, The Goodkind Parodies is a real goldmine. You wouldn't believe he actually wrote the stuff listed there, until you read the excerpts from his books. Amazing.
posted by kolophon at 10:25 AM on March 17, 2009


Did I mention the Confessor was cute?

He's very cute. The programme's been quite good work for some NZ actors, if that's another mark in its favour.
posted by malpractice at 10:49 AM on March 17, 2009


If you're looking for "good" fantasy these days, look no further than Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch and Glen Cook. These are the authors that will matter 20 years from now.

That said, Epic Fantasy sucks compared to Space Opera!
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 11:16 AM on March 17, 2009



If you're looking for "good" fantasy these days, look no further than Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch and Glen Cook. These are the authors that will matter 20 years from now.


I loved Abercrombie's The First Law, but the ending is a terrible letdown that devaluates the whole triology for me.
I would also recommend R. Scott Baccer's Prince Of Nothing series, a fourth book, The Judging Eye- not officially belonging to the triology, just came out.
Also Richard Morgan, who, coming from SciFi, just wrote his first fantasy novel with "The Steel Remains" which is kinda outstanding for its main characters sexuality. I didn't really care for how this matter was handled by Morgan, but it's still remarkable considering homosexual characters are as rare in this genre as good prose or believable dialogues apparently are in Goodkinds writing.
posted by kolophon at 11:42 AM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Imagine the Beastmaster if all of the actors knew that it was a cheesy B flick and hammed it up intentionally and were always making winking in-jokes. In fact, this show is Beastmaster as fuck.

Challahtronix, you do realize Beastmaster was a TV Show also, right?
posted by P.o.B. at 12:54 PM on March 17, 2009


If you want some unusual with your sword and sorcery try Richard Morgan's latest - The Steel Remains. The first fantasy novel I have ever read that included the hero gratefully receiving a blow to the forehead from the bad guy's glans. I'm pretty sure the title is a naughty double entendre.
posted by srboisvert at 1:01 PM on March 17, 2009


Homosexual characters are as rare in this genre as good prose...

WTF?!? Homosexual characters are all over the works of Mercedes Lackey and... oh wait, I see what you did there.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:38 PM on March 17, 2009


christhelongtimelurker: You know, Terry Pratchett wrote a really excellent Space Opera novel titled Dark Side of the Sun. It's a little hard to find in bookstores, but it's easily had online. Even though it's slightly satirical, it's one of the best sci-fi (syfy) books I've ever read, and one of the few that I can read repeatedly.
posted by boo_radley at 4:34 PM on March 17, 2009


"WTF?!? Homosexual characters are all over the works of Mercedes Lackey and... oh wait, I see what you did there."

Well, I made the mistake to buy A Companion to Wolves and decided that there's probably a whole genre of male homoerotic fantasy, mostly written by women and marketed to women, that I better stay far away from.
posted by kolophon at 6:44 PM on March 17, 2009


I liked the books, easy enough to read. I like the tv show, easy enough to watch. Specially when you have a hangover on Sunday. (I guess they are US Sat night). Nice to see New Zealand scenery, and local actors. (some of who I know).

I also like the b-grade feel to it, how all "legions of D'harans" are never more than 7 extras, presumably because they only have 7 outfits. Amusing.

About the only thing that's annoying is the fantasy-need-to-spell-everything-out. It's never, "do you have the book?" It is always "do you have the book of the counted shadows?".
posted by lundman at 8:32 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks Ber, The Goodkind Parodies is a real goldmine. You wouldn't believe he actually wrote the stuff listed there, until you read the excerpts from his books. Amazing.

Holy shit, that is really awful stuff. I mean, the show is definitely a guilty pleasure, but at least it's a pleasure.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:21 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I put on my war wizard outfit and hat.
posted by Snyder at 2:55 AM on March 18, 2009


Challahtronix, you do realize Beastmaster was a TV Show also, right?

Yes, but the Beastmaster TV show was not "Beastmaster as fuck".
posted by Challahtronix at 2:22 PM on March 18, 2009


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