A couple years ago we were hit with the exciting, and ultimately disappointing, news that the Shannara series, by Terry Brooks, was being optioned for movie rights. Of course those plans fell through, even after the mega success of the Lord of the Rings franchise, so we moved on while watching much less worthy fantasy franchises get cranked out from idea, to book, to movie so fast it was like making sausage. Not that the onslaught of YA books/movies are bad, but I’m sure even those authors look at a titan like Shannara and wonder why it hasn’t hit the screen yet. It’s estimated that Brooks is one of the best selling fantasy authors, and the only one in his leage that hasn’t already seen his work adapted. It’s strange that it has taken so long to get this going.
That said, it was with wary hope that we met the news last year that they were considering a TV show, after the staggering success of A Game of Thrones. I thought it was a great idea myself. Too often an epic work of fantasy is boiled down to its base elements and plot, and released in a nice, but oftentimes unsatisfying movie. Even LOTR had to be cut back to fit into the monumental 3+ hour monsters. So, when they said TV show it sounded great. Here’s a way to get all of the greatness on screen, character development, plot, and all the little things that make these books truly fantastic. Again, it was just a teaser though. A rumor, or hint, that some guys were thinking about possibly putting this on television. I didn’t get my hopes up.
So now, and yes I’m a bit late on this, we have confirmation that MTV is going to release The Elfstones of Shannara next year. The ten episode run was originally set to be directed by Jon Favreau, but due to a scheduling conflict that won’t happen (a troubling start but not a complete fall) though he will remain on as executive producer. The first two episodes are set to be directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and we’ll see Smallville greats Al Gough and Miles Millar filling writing and production roles. They also have the man himself, Terry Brooks as executive producer. So far, the team looks very promising, and with Terry involved we have high hopes for a faithful adaptation. I think this is an overall good plan. The Shannara series has never had the more adult elements that put A Game of Thrones on HBO, and having the talent behind the popular Smallville franchise should lend the right quality to the adaptation.
The second book was chosen for this, rather than the first (The Sword of Shannara), because it is considered the better of the first three I believe. It was the same plan for the movie idea so I imagine the idea carried over. The story follows Wil Ohmsford, the bearer of an ancient magic, who must save the elven people and their magical tree that keeps demons locked away in the Forbidding. Carrying the story over a ten episode run on TV should give the writers all the room they need to bring this story to life. I don’t want to give away too much. If you really want to know, the books are out there, and there are dozens of sites that break down the story. I’m just excited to bring the news that we’re about to see this on the screen, small, big, or otherwise.