Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Night TV: Sappy Fantasy Shows I Really Like

I know it's cheesy. I know the special effects can sometimes look cheap. I know that dragons, fairies, and wizards don't really exist, but I don't care. I also don't care if you think it's stupid. Fantasy rules.

1. Legend of the Seeker  (2008) 2 Seasons

No. It doesn't follow Terry Goodkind's books to the letter, but I kind of liked it that way because the plot took a different direction and told a new story. Richard Cypher is named the Seeker by a skinny, tall, odd looking wizard named Zeddicus Zul Zorander and his mission is to kick the tyrannical Lord Rahl's ass all the while fighting the urge to make out with Kalan, his beautiful partner and a confessor whose touch could kill his soul. Will he succeed? Dun. Dun. Dun! Of course he will. This is a show made for American audiences afterall...

Look how they look heroically off into the distance. LOOK AT THEM.
Pros: Legend of the Seeker shows off the beautiful New Zealand landscape. The magic in this show is well structured and has very specific rules. We can thank Terry Goodkind for that. Richard is likable even with his slightly dopey demeanor.
Cons:  I kind of didn't like the way they changed a crucial element of Richard's family tree from the book. Also, Darken Rahl was even more darker and more evil in the book. I just didn't find him as scary in the tv show... though he's still a creep.

2. The 10th Kingdom (2000) 7 Hour Miniseries

This miniseries first aired at the end of the last century. It's about a young woman named Virginia who lives in New York City. She and her father get sent to an alternate fairy tale universe through a magic mirror. Virginia and her father, Tony (who is played hilariously by John Larroquette) travel throughout the nine kingdoms looking for a magic mirror that will take them back home to New York. They make lots of oddball friends along the way. Ultimately, they fight an evil Queen who is trying to take control of the nine magical kingdoms.

Virginia and Wolf... Did you see that? See what they did there?
Pros: Wolf is attractive and it is lots of fun to see a new take on traditional fairy tales (Shrek fans would like this).
Cons: The trolls got annoying but they faded into background characters as the miniseries progressed.

3. Merlin (2008) 4 Seasons

This is a non-orthodox take on Arthurian lore where instead of Merlin being a father-figure to Arthur, he is more of a brother-figure. Merlin and Arthur are the same age and Arthur has been raised by his fanatically anti-magic father, King Uther, in Camelot. Merlin has to keep his magical abilities secret from Arthur and the King. Merlin is under the tutelage of the royal physician and is also Arthur's servant. I actually need to catch up on this series as I only have watched into the second season.

"Don't tell anyone I can do magic. The writers are gonna use this as a plot device for the next two seasons."
Pros: Lots of contraband magic = lots of fun. The dragon is an interesting character as well, and it's pretty cool when Merlin goes to him for advice.
Cons: While the episodes in and each of themselves are fun for all, the overall plot of the story moves slowly, and the show can start to feel a little repetitive.

4. Tin Man (2007) 4.5 Hour Miniseries <--- ON MY REWATCH LIST

DG (psst... recall Dorothy?) is a young waitress who is looking for her place in the world. She is haunted by an ominous vision that warns her of an impending storm. One day, an evil sorceress from the O.Z. sends her soldiers through a magical storm portal to kill DG, and DG inadvertently gets sent to the O.Z. (Outer Zone) where she makes new friends. There DG learns some remarkable things about her hidden past.

DG in the O.Z. Sounds totally SoCal right?
Pros: Great retelling of an American classic. Zooey Deschanel is gorgeous and does a great job as always. It's delightfully dark. The costumes were freaking amazing.
Cons: Can't think of any. Only that the show wasn't long enough! I wanted more.

5. Merlin (1998)  3 Hour Miniseries

This short miniseries is probably the BEST literal adaptation of traditional Arthurian mythology. It begins with Merlin's childhood and upbringing, and shows how he came to be one of King Uther's advisers. It also follows the traditional mythology closely when it portrays how Arthur's mother was tricked into sleeping with Uther by Merlin, the consequences of which antagonize Morgan le Fay. Queen Maab of the Old Ways is Merlin's arch nemesis and is fighting against the new Christian religion and its followers. This is a great story with a timeline encompassing the era before, during, and after King Arthur.

Morgan le Fay After Beautification. No really. That's supposed to be her hair on a good day.
Pros: Again, this puts the backstory of the legend of Arthur all together nicely. There's a great performance by Helena Bonham Carter as Morgan le Fay, and the rest of the cast is stellar as well. I love the implications the show has with religion and belief, and Sam Neil makes a kick ass Merlin.
Cons: When they put this miniseries on DVD, they cut out quite a few scenes from the original miniseries due to time constraints, and you can tell...

BTW- I realize that two of these are related to Arthurian lore. That is because that is the best mythology ever, and no one can beat it. IMHO Greek Mythology can suck it.

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