‘Shannara’ TV Series Acquired by MTV; Jon Favreau to Direct Pilot

Published 10 months ago by

Shannara Series MTV Shannara TV Series Acquired by MTV; Jon Favreau to Direct PilotSuccess 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.

The Sword of Shannara Shannara TV Series Acquired by MTV; Jon Favreau to Direct PilotMTV’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.

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Though Shannara is moving forward, it does not yet have an air date. Check back with Screen Rant as more information materializes.

Source: Deadline

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  1. Sounds interesting. Supernatural/Fantasy scripted series, specifically Teen Wolf, have done exceptionally well for MTV, so why break the trend now? My question is when are we going to get more information on the Scream series? That’s what I’m most excited for!

  2. I was really looking forward to this, but Shannara is so subtly weird and sci-fi. Even if MTV manages to pull this off on the level of say, Once Upon a Time, I doubt it’s going to stand out as more than standard fare. It’ll last one season, if that.

    Favreau does give me some hope, though.
    Then again, Joss directed the pilot for AoS which was the only thing lackluster I’ve watched by him.

  3. Is the entire season based on Elfstones? And how do you go from book to book while changing the lead characters so much and the time jumps?

    • American Horror Story seems to be having success doing it. Why not high fantasy?

      • Yeah…but American Horror story is starting over with a whole new story every year and its a known tract for the show. The stories are not similar or set in the same type of place.

        The books for Shannara on the other hand are in sets of 3 ( possibly multiple seasons with the same/similar characters ) and then several seasons later a time shift jump to a very similar story, in a very similar land, doing vary similar activities but with very different lead characters would seem jaring for those who are not familar with the books. Maybe I might be wrong.

        • I would guess that they’re going to distill the trilogies. If not, each era of the story might have its own subtitle or something. /shrug Who knows? I just hope they pull it off. I want to see the Jerle Shannara on screen eventually!

          • I agree…it should be awesome even if they don’t do the best job. :)

            Although, I don’t think I got as far in the series as the Jerle….I need to try to go back and finish the rest of the books.

            • The second era explored, after the first trilogy, was actually a quadrilogy, set in the past. While it has the same issue in regard to trading up main characters, it was a largely concurrent story that began and ended with the same folks. This allows for a single ongoing series to cover many books without changing up the stars completely. Maybe they will attempt to create a similar structure for the earlier books, but it’s hard to imagine they will risk any success they have by getting rid of the stars people tuned in to.

              • actually heritage of shannara which is the second shannara series was set after the original trilogy not before, but aside from that you are right.

            • Jerle Shannara was in prequel to the sword of shannara, it was in the first king of shannara

              • *he was in

          • I hate to bring this up, but jerle shannara is from before elfstones, like way before. I have read up to the measure of magic, and I can see the potential in this series, but I can also picture it being a huge flop. I wish everyone involved in making this the best of luck!

            • THE Jerle Shannara, he meant. The airship named after the character.

  4. This sounds interesting but I don’t know if it’s something for MTV. I don’t think the demographics have too much overlap.

  5. I’ve never read the Shannara books, but that brief synopsis sounds promising. I’ll definitely be interested if the show is good.

    Also, I’d like to someday see the Wheel of Time and the Dragonriders of Pern get adaptions.

  6. They should do a series based on Andre Nortons Witch World series. Very Game of Throne-ish and a lot better written than Shannara. Pretty much anything by Norton or Anne McCaffrey would be interesting. That is if they would just adapt it and not let hack screenwriters try to completely re-write it.

    • Sad that there are SO many other, better book series out there to build a TV series off of but they go with this. Guess MTV got it for the right price? ;)

      • I was thinking this (that there is *much* source material more worthy of adaptation), but I suppose it’s also possible they’re considering just how adaptable it is. I’d love to see a good version of Empire of the East, but I think it would need to be three movies rather than a series. Seems as though the Black Company could make a good series in the right hands.

      • I Still think Raymond E Feist’s Riftwar Saga needs a screen outing be it TV (best perhaps) or long running movie franchise

  7. If the show is great then I will be happy, but these books were important to me, and a weak mainstream effort would be depressing. I met Terry Brooks in the mid 90′s, and he was cool. I wondered if he was as fond of ThE Druid of S. book as much as I was, but he refused to compare his stories as it would be like choosing among family members. He dismissed the idea that the character Allanon was especially personally important, pointing out that if he were based on his father for example, the events and character treatment in Wishsong would have been different. (thats a spoiler free version of his statement).

    I reeeeeally hope this is worth watching. The books were lots of fun.

  8. I have been waiting for this, but not from MTV. Elfstones would make a perfect season though, of at least two or three films. One of the best fantasy’s ever! Far better than the Game of Thrones.

  9. The first shannara book seemed like a lame rip off of LOTR.

  10. I think MTV will do a great job with this. The Shannara series is what got me interested in reading when I was a kid (yeah, I’m old). Speaking of other great books that would make a good (mini) series my pick would be Battle Circle by Piers Anthony (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Circle). If you haven’t read it yet it’s enthralling. My two cents.

  11. I haven’t read this series in awhile. But when I did, I tore through them, reading the first trilogy, the quadrilogy, and I think the two trilogies after that. The quadrilogy was definitely the best.

    Call my a cynic, but I have my doubts about MTV taking on something like this. Is the network trying to resuscitate its image, or just grab a slice of the serialized TV pie? My guess is the latter.

  12. I have heard of the series, but I have not had the opportunity to read it yet (large backlog). I can see why people may have their doubts because of MTV, but I think the channel is trying to adapt to media climate change. MTV has progressively become less about music and more about television shows in order to stay relevant, which now means that they have to go outside of their regular fare of reality television and tweeny drama.

  13. Sounds pretty cool. Might have to give the books a read me thinks.

  14. Interesting, good to see more fantasy on TV.
    Just a shame these books are not very good. They are not very well written and borrow a vast amount of lore from other authors.

  15. Been quite a while since I read those books so it’ll be interesting if they pull this off better than Sword of Truth.

  16. Just gonna put out here that I’m a 25 year old man from NJ, and I’ve read every book (there’s a new one out now High druid’s blade or something). They are all awesome, I started back in highschool, and I still read them. They’re easy page turners, the characters are diverse and most are mutants besides Humans, Faire creatures, and Elves.. the elves were always there. Gnomes, trolls and dwarves are mutant humans. It’s wonderful. The world is unique, and only slowly changes as sets of trilogys and such are completed, there are many. Also, Brooks put out a World of Shannara index book which is awesome, and I only saw once. The uniqueness of Shannara is the Druid order. They are ultra-badass and they make the series have direction in every book.

    As far as Shannara (I always said Shann-AR-a, but apparently it’s pronouced like ShANNNNara, how i know explained below)

    There is a pc game about Shannara for like windows 95 featuring Allanon the druid and friends- it’s fun if you like the series, download that sucker~! You can find it online. The game has audio and so that’s how I learned the pronounciation of the series. I wonder how the MTV will say it..

    Lastly, I’ve heard that people say the First King of Shannara with Jerle Shannara (who appears later in that book, not initally) is a rip off of LOTR, and I say that’s bull. It’s a high fantasy story, and just so happens to have a quest to take a sword that shows people (and demons) it contacts all the truth of the reality of all past, current, and futures of their own lives, which is the only way to destroy a demon, of course, and that the demon is somewhere, and the adventures must travel to that place, which changes because that demon is a bad-mo-warlord on a warpath with the entire troll race acting under his will, much like LOTR, sure. Later said demon controls the humans (another book). Also the sword bearers are kinda wussy half-elves, which is similar to wussy halflings…

    Annnyway, my point is that besides those and maybe some more aspects, the first king has many elements which LOTR does not, such as the location being Earth, and the plot being post-nuclear-apocolyse-world (which he also detailed that story of the end in several books). The main demon was a druid who turned bad trying to wield the most awesome magic and fell to it’s power. It has it’s own Gandal- I mean it has a druid. I dunno. I hope I made some kinda point. Oh there are also some very epic full scale wars, with the ones in the front always being dead immediately, and many brutal and twisted murders of innocents which is nice. The magic involved is atypical from most fantasy and not very under control when envoked by users which defines the Druids (who don’t turn into bears, ever) it adds to the thrill.

    I guess my point is that I love the series, and Lord of the Rings bored me too much at 15 to get through so I never read it, once I got to Rivendell I stopped trying to get further, and therefore prefer this series immensely. Read it! It’s definitely at your local public library!

    Make MOVIES ABOUT IT, MAKE GAMES ABOUT IT, WRITE MORE ARTICLES ABOUT IT, MAKE MORE REALITY TV SHOWS ABOUT IT, and make Terry Brooks and his family more rich because he deserves it, he’s the MAN for making up these stories, and these books totally would make faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar better movies than Eragon did. Forshame Paolini, forshame!

    • Hey Cody,

      I’ve never heard of people saying First King as a rip-off of LotR’s. But I will say Sword of Shannara carries some very striking similarities to LotR’s. I really enjoy it anyways (for some reason Sword still is my favourite), but the Shea/Flick, warnings from Allanon/Gandalf in the peaceful ShadyVale. Skull Bearers/Ringwraiths invading Shadyvale/e Shire, forcing them to flee. Balinor/Aragorn appears as a friend of the wizard/druid (who is also heir to a kingdom on the border of the SkullKingdom/Mordor) to warn about said Skullbearers/Ringwraiths. We miss Bree, and pick up Menion/Merry later, but we do flee straight from ShadyVale/Shire into the swamp/Old Forest. There’s a Rivendell analog followed by a Moria analog, etc, etc.

      But for all that, I still enjoy the book. Even just the opening scene where Allanon accosts Flick. I can picture that scene so well in my head. Or their initial flight from ShadyVale up into the forest. I love it.

      • Cannot edit :(
        Should read the Shea & Flick/ Frodo & Sam parallels

  17. Nobody cares but I thought about what I just wrote and realized that people (and the author) consider the Sword of Shannara to be a rip-off of LOTR, but above I argued about how the First King of Shannara, a prequel to the Sword of Shannara, was different from LOTR, which I stand by. Sword of Shannara was unique from LOTR also

    I’d just like to clarify that everything I said refers to the entire world of Shannara vs. world of LOTR, rather than any one book vs. the other. It’s different! Do you hear me!?!?! hahah.

    Where’s the show at??

  18. How can you say that The Sword Of Shannara is a ripoff of The Lord Of The Rings. First of all it doesn’t happen in middle earth. It happens in our world..and if it is a rip off of anything thing, it is more of a rip off the Arthurian legend.