Success breeds imitation, and nowhere is that more visible than in film and television. Just as the success of The Lord of the Rings spawned many attempts at fantasy film franchises, the rampant popularity of HBO’s Game of Thrones may explain a recent burst of costume dramas and stabs at television literary adaptations.
One such adaptation – long circled but rarely approached – is Shannara, a series of novels by Terry Brooks. After starting down the road toward television over a year ago, it appears that MTV has now signed on to broadcast a Shannara series.
Deadline shares the scoop that MTV has given Shannara a series commitment, dependent on the quality of its pilot script. Said script will be penned by Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar. Director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) has reportedly signed on to helm the series’ pilot episode.
The Shannara books comprise one of the longest-running and most beloved fantasy novel series in the world. Beginning with The Sword of Shannara in 1977, the series depicts an Earth 2,000 years after a demonically induced cataclysm wiped out civilization and summoned magic back into the world. Over the course of the series’ many sequels, prequels, and side stories, the descendants of legendary hero Jerle Shannara battle deathless warlocks, demonic hordes, evil empires, and even a sadistic AI from before the war that destroyed the old world.
According to Deadline, the first season of Shannara will be based on the second novel in the overall series, The Elfstones of Shannara. This is a very wise move, as The Sword of Shannara is – putting it bluntly – a fairly bald-faced ripoff of The Lord of the Rings. Though not exactly the pinnacle of originality, Elfstones is a faster-paced, better-written novel with more interesting characters on both sides of the protagonist/antagonist divide.
MTV’s acquisition of Shannara is a bold, fascinating move for a network previously known primarily for reality programming. Should the series get off the ground, it will no doubt have quite a bit of momentum out of the gate. The popularity of Brooks’ novels guarantees a sizable initial audience – and doubtless MTV will position the series’ premiere episode as event television. In addition, the sheer number of Shannara novels will provide a rich well of material for scriptwriters to draw upon for a long-running show.
All this said, Shannara will be immediately (and erroneously) compared to Game of Thrones. In order to avoid such comparisons – fair or not – Shannara will have to immediately distinguish itself from its darker, more politically minded cousin.
Fortunately, the swashbuckling high fantasy and quasi-science fiction backstory of Brooks’ novels could help Shannara achieve those differences quickly and succinctly. With able talents such as Favreau behind the show, Shannara could possibly end up the next big thing in serialized entertainment.
Though Shannara is moving forward, it does not yet have an air date. Check back with Screen Rant as more information materializes.