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Legend of the Seeker is a weekly American television series loosely based on The Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind. Distributed in U.S. domestic syndication by Disney-ABC Domestic Television, ABC Studios is producing the series, which is in its first foray into broadcast syndication, with Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, Joshua Donen, Ned Nalle and Kenneth Biller serving as executive producers. The show premiered on November 1, 2008.

The series follows the epic journey of a young woods guide named Richard Cypher (played by Craig Horner), a mysterious woman named Kahlan Amnell (played by Bridget Regan), and a wizard named Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander (played by Bruce Spence) to stop Darken Rahl (played by Craig Parker) from unleashing an ancient and terrifying power.

It has been renewed for a second season, which began airing on November 7, 2009.In 2009, the series won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series.

Production

Development

Sam Raimi became interested in adapting The Sword of Truth novels to screen after his partner Joshua Donen encouraged him to read the books, and he in turn gave the books to Robert Tapert to read. Raimi considered adapting the first book into a movie or a five-part miniseries but later settled on making a weekly television series after speaking to the books' author Terry Goodkind. A weekly television program would allow them to include most of the stories and important aspects of the series. Goodkind had resisted selling the rights of his books on multiple occasions before he met Raimi because he was not confident that those producers would maintain the integrity of his stories and characters. Raimi, who had produced Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess with Tapert and Ned Nalle, saw this as an opportunity to return to the first-run syndicated television business. However, the syndicated television business had diminished after the loss of crucial foreign markets.

ABC Studios agreed to fund the project, making it its first venture into broadcast syndication, and greenlit the production for 22 episodes after it was cleared for broadcast to stations representing 84% of the United States, with Tribune Company being the primary launch group. The show, which is heavily action-oriented and requires visual effects, was given a "network-sized" production budget of US$1.5 million per episode.

Originally named after the first book in the The Sword of Truth series Wizard's First Rule, the show was retitled to Legend of the Seeker at Goodkind's suggestion since the producers had wanted to differentiate the show from the books, and it would have been too restrictive for them to only include plotlines from the first book.

Writing

As opposed to the earlier shows Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys produced by Raimi and Tapert, Legend of the Seeker lacks tongue-in-cheek humor. The executive producers intended the show to be "just about telling the stories of these characters and the sacrifices they make for each other. Sometimes it's about the meaning of real friendship. And always, it's the stories of the hero's journey." Tapert added, "We didn't want to have the '90s postmodern attitude where the audience is in on the joke. Seeker is much more serious than Hercules and Xena."

Due to the show's production being based in New Zealand and the writing staff being based in Los Angeles, one of the biggest challenges has been dealing with the time differences and the communication issues. In terms of writing, Kenneth Biller noted that the biggest challenges were to create standalone episodes while integrating the storylines and mythology created by Terry Goodkind, and to "honor the books without literally translating them". As such, the series contains some stories from the books and other stories and events created by the series' writers. Raimi's reason for the changes is that the structure of a novel differs from a weekly one-hour television program. Tapert and Raimi maintain that while the writers have had to create events that were not portrayed in the books, they have remained faithful to the characters, themes and overarching story of the books:

Goodkind released a message to his readers on his official website prior to the show's production saying, among other things, that:

Casting

In casting the role of Richard Cypher, Tapert recalled that when he saw Craig Horner on his audition tape, he "absolutely thought he was the guy, instantly". Raimi thought that although Horner is older than the character he plays, he was "very believable" and that "he's got enough good qualities in him, in real life, and he will probably make the audience believe that he's taking that ride towards making a responsible person and that growth of character that's so important for me in the stories of Terry Goodkind." Horner had not heard of the books prior to the audition and was convinced by a friend to read the books and try out for the role.

For the role of Kahlan Amnell, Raimi credits Tapert for finding Bridget Regan, whom he saw on one of the audition tapes they received. Raimi thought that she grounded the fantastical situations by being "very human and real", and recalled, "I was moved by her and I believed her and I thought we couldn't ask for anything more." Like Horner, Regan had not read the books prior to the audition. Horner and Regan were brought together for a "chemistry reading" in Los Angeles, upon which the producers concurred that they had found their two lead actors.

Filming

Production was set to begin in May 2008 but was delayed by six weeks. The series is shot entirely in New Zealandmarker in high-definition. Though based in Aucklandmarker, filming has taken place in various places in and outside of the city: at Henderson Valley Studios, in the city's outskirts and in the mountainous region around Queenstownmarker.

Plot

The story takes place in the world author Terry Goodkind created in his The Sword of Truth fantasy novel series. The three main provinces are Westland, the Midlands and D'Hara. Westland is separated from the Midlands by a magical boundary, which was created to prevent any magic from entering Westland. On the other side of the Midlands is D'Hara, which is ruled by Darken Rahl. The Confessors oversee the welfare of the people of the Midlands.

The first 22 episodes are loosely tied to the first book of The Sword of Truth series Wizard's First Rule. Some of the stories feature events and characters not encountered in the books, while other loosely adapt events from the book. The story begins after the invasion of Darken Rahl's army into the Midlands. Kahlan Amnell (Bridget Regan), a Confessor, ventures into Westland in search of a wizard and the Seeker, who has been prophesied to defeat Rahl. Kahlan finds the wizard, Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander (Bruce Spence), and the Seeker, Richard Cypher (Craig Horner), who is forced to accept his destiny. Together, they set off on a journey to seek out Rahl and his minions.

Characters

Main characters

  • Richard Cypher (Craig Horner) starts out in the series as a young woods guide living in Hartland, a town in Westland and a place where no magic exists. Richard is the adopted son of George Cypher and brother of Michael Cypher, but he does not know who his real parents are or that Zedd is his grandfather. He discovers that he is a Seeker - "a hero who arises in the times of trouble and suffering and seeks out evil".. Although Richard is reluctant to be the Seeker, he is earnest in fulfilling his role as he is the person prophesised to defeat Darken Rahl. Craig Horner explains Richard's character as someone who is "what you see is what you get" and is "so truthful", adding that "the only thing he's been taught to reserve his whole life is his anger, and he can release that once he starts to get hold of this Sword of Truth."
  • Kahlan Amnell (Bridget Regan) is a Confessor and in contrast to the novels which the show is based on, she is not the last living Confessor. As a Confessor, she has the power to magnify the love a person has within them for her, allowing her to control the person. This power allows her to serve the people of the Midlands, who respect and fear her. Both her parents are deceased and her sister appeared to have been killed at the beginning of the first episode in the series. Later we learn she has indeed survived and will give birth to a male confessor. In Kahlan's quest to defeat Rahl, her role is to protect the Seeker with her life. Executive producer Robert Tapert describes Kahlan as "a female action hero for 2009… she's perhaps more feminine at the same time as being as ruthless as Xena was."
  • Zeddicus "Zedd" Zu'l Zorander (Bruce Spence) is a wizard who the people of Hartland believe to be a crazy old man, and is Richard's grandfather. Heeding the prophecy concerning Richard, Zedd brought him into Westland after his birth to protect him from Darken Rahl and gave him to George Cypher to raise. After Richard accepts the name of the Seeker, Zedd becomes his mentor and is sworn to protect him with his life. He rarely panics and always looks ahead to what has to be done.
  • Cara (Tabrett Bethell) is a Mord'Sith who first appears in the Season 1 finale and is sent into the future along with Richard. Cara became part of the main cast in Season 2. Cara is one of the feared order of women known as Mord-Sith. When Mistress Denna failed to kill Richard Cypher, Cara was personally recruited by the evil ruler Darken Rahl to eliminate the Seeker once for all. But instead of fulfilling her mission, Cara was forced to work with Richard to save herself, which ultimately led to the Seeker fulfilling the prophecy, killing Rahl and ending his reign of tyranny. From the Underworld, Darken Rahl commands the Mord'Sith to dispose of Cara for her role in his demise. They beat her and leave her for dead, after which Richard helps Cara. Deserted by her people and sworn to protect Richard, the heir to the title Lord Rahl, Cara joins the Seeker and a wary Kahlan and Zedd on their new quest. Richard trusts Cara, and believes her unique abilities could prove invaluable in finding the Stone of Tears and defeating the Keeper of the Underworld.


Recurring characters

  • Darken Rahl (Craig Parker) is the emperor of D'Hara and the Seeker's enemy. He is an evil tyrant who wants to annex the Midlands and Westland into his empire and enslave the people living there. While he has at his disposal wizards and legions of soldiers to help him achieve his goal, he seeks the three Boxes of Orden, which will give him ultimate power. In the second season premiere, we learn that he was, actually, Richard's older brother. His father had noticed Darken acting vicious at a young age, so he had decided to have a second child that would later defeat Darken. Though, in the season finale, he is destroyed, he comes back as a spirit in the second season, claiming he works for the Keeper now.
  • Dell "Chase" Brandstone (Jay Laga'aia) is the head of the Councilor's Guards in Hartland. He is also a family man and Richard's closest friend. Aided by his large frame and strength, Chase is a skilled fighter. He is loyal to his friends and does not hesitate to help them.
  • Michael Cypher (David de Lautour) is Richard's older brother and the First Councilor of Hartland.
  • Jennsen (Brooke Williams) is Richard's younger sister. She is referred to as "pristinely ungifted," meaning that she cannot use magic nor can magic affect her directly. Although Jennsen is introduced in the first season, she does not appear in The Sword of Truth series until the seventh novel, The Pillars of Creation.
  • Denna (Jessica Marais) is a ruthless Mord'Sith sent by Darken Rahl to torture Richard into swearing his allegiance to Darken Rahl. When her efforts are in vain, she's given a second chance but when that fails, Richard allows her to flee to escape Darken Rahl's wrath.
  • Shota (Danielle Cormack) is a powerful witch who controls a part of the Midlands. While Zedd, whom she is loathfully acquainted with, warns she is "no friend of The Seeker," she antagonizes Darken Rahl for he threatens her current state of power.


Episodes

The series premiered on November 1, 2008 in the United States and is broadcast weekly on Saturday or Sunday, depending on the local television station. In addition to the 22 episodes of the first season, the series will consist of a second season, after being renewed by Disney. All aired episodes were previously available online at Hulu and the official website for United States residents, but most of the episodes were removed from both just prior to the DVD release.

Second season

Legend of the Seeker has been renewed for a second season. Filming started in July, and the first episode aired on November 7, 2009. There will be 22 episodes based roughly on Terry Goodkind's second and third books, Stone of Tears and Blood of the Fold, instead of basing it on just the second book. Making the season based on both the second and third books will make it an easier task to convert the eleven-book series into fewer seasons. Streamable episodes have begun to appear on the show's official website.

Response

Ratings

Legend of the Seeker premiered on the weekend of November 1-2, 2008 in the United States and attracted more than 4.1 million viewers over the two days. The first two episodes obtained an average of 1.5/3 Nielsen Rating among 54 metered markets with a 1.4/3 rating on Saturday and a 1.7/3 rating on Sunday. In addition to improving its broadcast time periods in several top markets, Legend also improved the audience numbers in the key 18 to 49 year old demographic in all airings. Over its first month of airing, the show averaged more than 3.6 million viewers. It was renewed for a second season after obtaining a 2.0 household rating average for its first ten episodes.

Critical reception

The premiere of Legend of the Seeker, which included its first two episodes, received generally mixed reviews from critics earning a 53 out of 100 average rating as calculated by Metacritic. It was criticized for not being as "fun" as Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess (also produced by Robert Tapert and Sam Raimi), and not having enough excitement. Another major complaint about the show was its lack of distinguishing features and that it was "too derivative of other works" like Star Wars, The Matrix, and The Wheel of Time, with the "300-style" slow-motion action sequences often cited as an example. Brian Lowry from Variety called the show "a hodgepodge of better sci-fi/fantasy fare", while Ray Richmond from The Hollywood Reporter described it as "[b]ig on style but more challenged in terms of substance" with "too little provocative/evocative interaction aside from the ultra-violent kind".

On a positive note, Legend was praised for its high production value and the use of New Zealand exteriors, with Robert Lloyd from Los Angeles Times commenting that the show is basically "good-looking fun". Although both Lloyd and Diane Steenbergen from IGN commended the performances of the lead actors Craig Horner and Bridget Regan, they were not pleased with the supporting performances. Steenbergen thought that the series' third episode was "far more entertaining than the previous two that were weighed down with too much exposition."

International broadcast

In addition to the United States, broadcast rights for Legend of the Seeker have been picked up in more than 60 international markets. In Spainmarker, the show began airing on Telecinco on March 15, 2009. In New Zealandmarker, it premiered on March 29, 2009 on Prime and airs weekly in the Monday 7:30 pm timeslot. In the UKmarker & Irelandmarker, Sci Fi Channel picked up the rights for Season 1 and Season 2 with the air time slot of 8:00pm starting on August 13 2009 Irish Broadcaster RTE1 aired the show on August 19th.In South Africa the show was picked up by pay TV operator M-Net, broadcasting on Saturday nights since July 2009. In Germanymarker, it premiered on October 11, 2009 on ProSieben and airs Sundays around 5:00pm. In Singapore, it premiered October 15th, airing on Thursdays at 2030hrs.In Polandmarker it premiered September 4, 2009 on TVP1 and airs on Fridays around 10:00pm. In Australia, it will premiere on Fox 8 on November 29. In Italymarker, the show will premiere on SKY Uno on December 8.

DVD releases

DVD Name Release dates Ep # Additional Information
Region 1
Season 1 October 13, 2009 22 The five disc box set includes all 22 episodes. Extras will include "Forging the Sword: Crafting a Legend", "Words of Truth: A Conversation with Terry Goodkind", deleted scenes and audio commentaries . Running Time: 950 minutes.


References

  1. http://www.legendoftheseeker.com/news_article_072309.html
  2. http://www.legendoftheseeker.com/videos.html?bclid=1859715414&bctid=30625200001
  3. http://www.metacritic.com/tv/shows/legendoftheseeker


External links




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