“Scions of Shannara” artwork by Keith Parkinson
Way back in 2008 I did a round-up of my most-anticipated fantasy films for the year 2009, which included Elfstones of Shannara, the first book in Terry Brooks’ epic Shannara trilogy, which, at the time was still in development. Well, that movie obviously never materialized (while I’m on the subject, that entire list I put together turned out to be one big shitpile of disappointment) but according to new news today the Shannara series will be re-worked for TV instead.
Sonar Entertainment has acquired the rights to author Terry Brooks’ bestselling fantasy series “Shannara” and is partnering with Farah Films to produce a television series based on the books.
Farah Films principal Dan Farah and Sonar Entertainment CEO Stewart Till will exec produce with Brooks. Producers plan to recruit a showrunner and director before they shop the project to network buyers.
Set hundreds of years after the destruction of our civilization, series follows the Shannara family, who are empowered with ancient magic and whose adventures continuously reshape the future of the world. The plan is to base the show’s first season on “The Elfstones of Shannara,” the second book in the series.
The 20th bestselling book in the 25-year-old series has just premiered at No. 2 on the New York Times Bestsellers list. Two more books in the series are set to be published in 2013.
I’m all for more fantasy series being adapted for television versus big-budget movies. It’s not that I don’t love the Lord of the Rings films, it’s just that most fantasy films that aren’t LOTR have been huge disappointments (Eragon, The Seeker) or weren’t very successful (The Golden Compass), not to mention it sucks having to wait so long in between installments (The Hobbit). Until we can clone Peter Jackson so he can direct every epic fantasy film, I believe television is the better option.
It’s unlikely the Shannara series will de-throne Game of Thrones as best fantasy book-to-TV series, because, frankly, the books themselves just aren’t as juicy as what George R. R. Martin writes and HBO has set the bar pretty high. However, I’m glad Game of Thrones has become something of a paragon that’s inspiring producers to consider more shows like it. Fantasy series that are as ridiculously long as A Song of Ice and Fire or Wheel of Time can’t be easily distilled into two-hour movies fit for general consumption*. With made-for-TV special effects and production values getting better all the time plus the advancements in second-screen technology and social media generating huge successes for the networks, why not bring more fantasy books to television instead of the big screen?
*Unless it’s Harry Potter.