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"Legend of the Seeker" The Complete First Season DVD Review

Buy Legend of the Seeker: The Complete First Season from Amazon.com Legend of the Seeker: Season One (2008-09)
Show & DVD Details

Writers: Terry Goodkind (novel), Chad Fiveash, James Patrick Stoteraux, Kenneth Biller, Mike Sussman, Arika Lisanne Mittman, Stephen Tolkin, Nicki Paluga, Erin Maher, Kay Reindl / Repeat Directors: Mark Beesley, Michael Hurst, Jonathan Brough, Charlie Haskell, Garth Maxwell

Regular Cast: Craig Horner (Richard Cypher), Bridget Regan (Kahlan Amnell), Bruce Spence (Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander) / Recurring Characters: Craig Parker (Darken Rahl), Kevin J. Wilson (General Egremont), Tabrett Bethell (Cara), Jay Laga'aia (Chase), David de Lautour (Michael Cypher), Ben Fransham (Gar), Renato Bartolomei (Demmin Nass), Danielle Cormack (Shota), Jeffrey Thomas (George Cypher), Tania Nolan (Dennee Amnell), Jennifer Rucker (Emma Brandstone), Catherine Stephen (Laura Brandstone), Jessica Marais (Denna), Brooke Williams (Jennsen), Andrew Robertt (Ranssyn Fane), Jessica Chapnik (Anna Brighton)

Notable Guest Stars: Laura Gordon (Lilly), Ted Raimi (Sebastian), Rachel Nash (Brigid), Eryn Wilson (Andrew), Benson Anthony (Renn), Calvin Tuteao (Jeziah), Jason Smith (Gryff), Katherine Kennard (Lara), Geraldine Brophy (Queen Milena), Jordana Beatty (Rachel), Maisie McLeod-Riera (Princess Violet), Bronwyn Bradley (Martha), Louise Wallace (Serena), Rachel Forman (Alana), Roy Snow (Finn), Barnie Duncan (Niles Braggindor), Caren Pistorious (Luna), Lauren Porteous (Nella Greenleaf), Phil Brooks (Conor Greenleaf), Michael Hurst O.N.Z.M. (Amfortas), Matt Walker (Kieran), Mia Pistorius (Viviane), Judy Mcintosh (Tarralyn), Don Hany (Captain Ensor), Jason Hoyte (Gwildor), Claire Chitham (Bianca), Steve Rodgers (Frytss), Jacques Drew (Clayre), Carl Bland (King Gregor), Beatrice Joblin (Corah), Joseph Nathan (Aidan), Michelle Langstone (Livia), Jack Hurst (Nicholas)

Running Time: 946 Minutes (22 episodes) / Rating: TV-14
1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: September 22, 2009 / Suggested Retail Price: $45.99
Season 1 Airdates: November 1, 2008 – May 23, 2009
Five single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s)
Clear Dual Amaray with Holographic, Embossed Cardboard Slipcover

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By Kelvin Cedeno

With the success of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films, it was only natural that more fantasy book series would be tapped for potential franchises. These have ranged from blockbusters (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) to decently profitable (The Spiderwick Chronicles) to outright bombs (Inkheart). Even without the guarantee of financial gold, studios are still turning to acclaimed fantasy novels for inspiration. With its tighter budgets and generally smaller returns, the world of television hasn't been as affected by the craze. And yet, not only would such a format allow for books to be covered in greater detail, but also the serialized nature lends itself to roughly an episode per chapter and a season per book. One television program finally took advantage of this idea:
the syndicated "Legend of the Seeker", based on The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind.

Richard Cypher (Craig Horner) is a woodcutter who learns that he is the Seeker, a prophesized legend who will vanquish the evil Darken Rahl (Craig Parker). Unsure of his destiny, Richard slowly accepts his calling thank to two friends who accompany him on his mission: the eccentric wizard Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander (Bruce Spence) and the fiercely independent Kahlan Amnell (Bridget Regan). The talents of these two come in handy, especially since Kahlan is a Confessor, a woman sworn to seek the truth and who can force those she touches to do her bidding.

The trio travels to search and protect two artifacts. The first is The Book of Counted Shadows, which gives the Seeker the knowledge he needs to destroy Rahl. The second is the power of Orden, contained in three boxes. Whoever pieces the three together has ultimate power and control over every being. Rahl currently has the first two and is in pursuit of the third. On their journey, Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd run into various characters and villages. Some offer to help them with their quest, but others have pledged allegiance to Darken Rahl.

Richard Cypher (Craig Horner) dramatically raises the Sword of Truth during his initiation as Seeker. Zedd (Bruce Spence), Kahlan (Bridget Regan), and Richard (Craig Horner) brace themselves for the journey ahead.

The premise of "Legend of the Seeker" is far from revolutionary. The hero's journey is a story arc used time and time again, perhaps most famously on George Lucas' original Star Wars trilogy. That wouldn't be a problem if "Seeker" had more to offer, but it just barely gets by with some interesting ideas. The early episodes in particular feel as though they're going through a checklist of fantasy clichιs. The reluctant hero, the wise old mentor, the prophecy of a chosen one, the death of a parent to bring the threat home, and magical MacGuffins that the villain's after are just a few of the elements found not only here, but in dozens of stories. If they were handled with the sort of flair as something like Harry Potter (which so happens to feature all of the above), then they'd be easier to accept. Instead, there's little to distract from what feels like stale regurgitation.

Thankfully, the season does improve as it progresses. The clear turning point is "Denna", the eighth episode. From here on out, the series begins to paint its characters in shades of gray and asks questions normally not considered in the fantasy genre. That's not to say the show ever becomes anything remarkable, but there's delineation between the more wooden pre-"Denna" episodes and the more involving ones that follow.

Not having read Goodkind's Sword of Truth novels, it's difficult to tell who to credit and who to blame in terms of each show element. Based on reviews written by fans of the books, it seems the television program takes quite a few liberties with Goodkind's work, most of them for the worse. The actors on this DVD's commentary tracks even indirectly confirm this. They remark how the two strongest episodes of the season, "Denna" and "Puppeteer", are that way because of their closeness to the source material. If that's the case, one can only hope that Goodkind's works are adapted more faithfully in future seasons instead of the creators falling back on tried and true elements in hopes of reaching a wider audience.

After rescuing Jennsen (Brooke Williams) from Denna and the other Mord Sith, Richard (Craig Horner) refuses to let his guard down when a stranger approaches them in the woods. Darken Rahl (Craig Parker) prepares an experiment on Kahlan (Bridget Regan) that will transfer her Confessor powers to himself.

On the positive side, the show boasts impressive production and costume design. The crew certainly masks the tight schedules and budgets they certainly had to work with. The actors do their best with the material given. Clunky exposition and cheesy attempts at humor come across awkwardly, but it's difficult material to sell. When the time calls for more emotional scenes and, better yet, purely visual ones, the actors excel.
The more honest and grounded sequences are so well acted that they almost make up for the stiffer portions. While they can't quite work miracles with the scripts, the unknown performers inject enough talent to raise their respective characters slightly above mere archetypes.

"Legend of the Seeker" is neither a great show nor a terrible one, and perhaps that's what's most exasperating. There are some genuinely inspired ideas and moments scattered throughout the season, but they're often buried under more conventional ones. When the program is at its best, it's easy to invest into, but everything witnessed is forgotten shortly afterwards. Those familiar with "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" and "Xena: Warrior Princess" will know what to expect here as the style and presentation is quite similar to those two. This comes as no surprise when one finds out that "Seeker" shares those programs' producers. If they can focus more on recreating the source material and less on duplicating the cult successes of "Hercules" and "Xena," "Seeker" could be a series worth getting into. For now, though, it's merely a passable way to kill some time channel-surfing.

Episode summaries can be found below and contain spoilers due to the show's serialized format. The ten standout episodes are marked with a star ().

Neither Richard (Craig Horner), nor Lilly (Laura Gordon), nor Kahlan (Bridget Regan) show much enthusiasm for facing the dreaded beast that's captured Lilly's brother. Brigid (Rachel Nash) and Andrew (Eryn Wilson) each have decidedly different reactions when reunited with a long lost family member.

Disc 1

1. Prophecy (43:28) (Originally aired November 1, 2008)
Richard Cypher struggles with the revelation that he is the Seeker prophesized to kill Darken Rahl.
Show Clip - "Trust your instincts":
Tragedy finally forces him to accept his calling and follow Zed and Kahlan. Note that this and the following episode originally aired as a two-hour event. For international markets and this DVD, the premiere is split into two episodes and trimmed by a few minutes to accommodate the change.

2. Destiny (43:32) (Originally aired November 1, 2008)
Richard searches for Fane in order to retrieve the Book of Counted Shadows. Meanwhile, Rahl attempts to destroy the barrier and send his troops in to capture the Seeker.

3. Bounty (42:49) (Originally aired November 8, 2008)
A mapmaker makes a profit out of selling maps that can track down the Seeker. Despite Kahlan's protests, Richard stops to help a woman whose brother has been captured by a beast.

4. Brennidon (43:29) (Originally aired November 15, 2008)
Finding himself back in the place of his birth, Richard feels compelled to help the village when discovering his mother. Unfortunately, another supposed family member is easily swayed by Rahl.

Jack (Joshua Fernandes) pines over the girl he loves, not knowing that the Seeker (Craig Horner), a Confessor (Bridget Regan), and a wizard (Bruce Spence) are all sneaking up behind him. In between torture sessions, Denna (Jessica Marais) seduces Richard (Craig Horner), not realizing that he may be seducing her in turn.

Disc 2

5. Listener (43:30) (Originally aired November 22, 2008)
Richard and Kahlan rescue a boy who has the ability to read minds. Rahl's troops, the D'Harans, go in search of the boy, and Zedd disguises himself as an ally to meet Rahl.

6. Elixir (42:30) (Originally aired November 29, 2008)
When he stumbles across a town that sells magic potions to its residents, Richard is tempted to use this in his quest. Zedd runs into an old friend whose morals have grayed over the years.

7. Identity (43:29) (Originally aired December 6, 2008)
A sorceress named Shota switches Richard's body with his friend Gryff's in order to alter a grim vision she had of his future. This causes complications for both parties and puts Gryff's life in danger.

8. Denna (43:29) (Originally aired January 10, 2009)
Rahl sends a Mord-Sith named Denna to capture Richard and torture him into submission. As Richard loses his identity, Kahlan seeks help from a friend whose methods are morally questionable.

Kahlan's sister Dennee (Tania Nolan) and her husband Finn (Roy Snow) must face a difficult decision in regards to their baby's future. Zedd (Bruce Spence), Kahlan (Bridget Regan), and Richard (Craig Horner) perform a ritual to release the soul of Kieran, the previous Seeker.

Disc 3

9. Puppeteer (43:29) (Originally January 17, 2009)
Zedd breaks into the place of Queen Milena in order to steal the third box of Orden and prevent Rahl from getting it first. A young servant girl named Rachel aids him in his mission.

10. Sacrifice (43:29) (Originally aired January 24, 2009)
Discovering that her sister is still alive, Kahlan disguises herself as a Mord-Sith to free her.
A rift comes between Richard and Kahlan over a ritual that must be practiced on Kahlan's nephew.

11. Confession (43:29) (Originally aired January 31, 2009)
A friend of Kahlan's is murdered, and though someone has confessed to the crime, it conflicts with another reported incident. Zedd asks his brother for an item that'll help the

12. Home (42:35) (Originally aired February 21, 2009)
Rahl places a spell on Richard that puts him in a fabricated world. Here, Rahl convinces Richard that his adventures so far have been a dream and uses this scheme to find the last box of Orden.

13. Revenant (43:29) (Originally aired February 28, 2009)
While attempting to hide the third box of Orden, Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd are trapped in the tomb of the last Seeker. To free themselves, they must free his soul first.

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Continue to Page 2 >>

Be in control of Fall TV

Page 1: Show Discussion, Discs 1-3
Page 2: Discs 4-5, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed October 18, 2009.