MTV orders Shannara series

So… MTV has run out of reality show ideas.

MTV is moving forward with what it hopes will be its own Game of Thrones.

‘Shannara’ Series in the Works at MTV With Jon Favreau, ‘Smallville’ Duo

The younger-skewing cable network has picked up its adaptation of Terry Brooks’ Shannara straight to series with a 10-episode order, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The Viacom-owned cable network is teaming with Jon Favreau and Smallville duo Al Gough and Miles Millar to adapt Brooks’ international best-selling fantasy novels Shannara. From Sonar Entertainment, the deal—first announced in December—had a straight-to-series commitment attached. Executives were pleased with the script from Gough and Millar, and Shannara bypassed the traditional pilot stage. Casting has not yet begun. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Jonathan Liebesman will direct, taking over for Favreau, who had a scheduling conflict. Liebesman will direct the first two episodes and also be credited as an exec producer. Gough and Millar will write and exec produce; Brooks, Dan Farah and Favreau will also exec produce.

So…howlingly awful/derivative fantasy book becomes TV series on terrible TV network?

I’m tempted to say “Not with a ten foot pole”, but this could crossover in so bad it’s good territory.

As someone on another site noted, “I’ve always wanted to know what Game of Thrones would look like on a $12 budget.”

This announcement explains Terry Brooks’ recent AMA on reddit; dat PR!

My 12 year-old self would be squealing with glee.

It seems fitting that one 80s relic would air another 80s relic.

70s, actually.

I would have been much happier to learn it was being made into some kickass Anime. But MTV?

MTV would screw up a music video given half a chance – in fact – they’ve done enough of that that they almost no longer bother to show them.

This will not end well - and I suspect it won’t even start well, either.

Fortunately this particular bit of bad decision-making may be balanced to some extent by Syfy’s decision to greenlight a pilot for The Magicians. Any given paragraph by Lev Grossman is worth Brooks’ entire career. My opinion may be very very slightly skewed by the fact I got out of a kaffeeklatch with him and Max Gladstone an hour or so ago…

I loved this series in the 3rd/4th grade. 4 or 5 years ago I bought them all again and thought it would be fun to read them anew. I didn’t last 30 pages into the first one.

How do you “screw up” Sword Of Shannara?

This has glorious potential.

I read the first and maybe the second book when I was a pre-teen and enjoyed them, so I’ve never really grokked the Shannara-hatred. I assume they were as derivative as everyone says, but I was too young to do much but enjoy a good yarn. I think I started on the third book as an older teen, got bored and but it down, but I don’t think that was because of some reflexive hatred or anything… I reckon I just understood it was a YA book.

On the face of it, I can’t see how MTV+fantasy series equals anything but disappointment, but I’m willing to keep a halfway open mind.

I don’t hate the Sha Na Na books. I just found them boring. I didn’t really register them as derivative when I encountered them as a teenager, mainly I suspect because I already read a lot of derivative fantasy, and thus “derivative” was more “standard” to me.

I don’t think they were quite as derivative when Brooks wrote the first ones back in what…late 70’s? Its not a classic nor high literature by any stretch, but at least in the beginning, they were reasonably well in a genre that had a few giants, and a LOT of crap. Its clearly also intended for younger audiences that most of us (I assume).

The article I read stated that Terry Brooks is the second best selling living fantasy author, right after Rowling, which is pretty impressive, so there is probably an audience for this.

Anyways - I’ll probably keep an eye on this, but sure, I’d been a lot more interested had they selected someone like Steven Erikson instead.

The first Shannara book was a badly written ripoff of the Lord of the Rings. It wasn’t merely derivative, it was a deliberate clone.

This reminds me of “Legend of the Seeker”, another hugely popular fantasy book series that was adapted for TV. Never actually got around to watching it, but I gather it wasn’t all that faithful to the Goodkind books and wasn’t very good at doing its own thing either… Kinda doubt MTV will be able to do better.

I wouldn’t call it derivative so much as a character-for-character, scene-for-scene plagiarism of Tolkien, at least for the first book. Won’t touch this with a 20 foot light saber.

On the positive side, the first book hitting the NYT’s bestseller list made publishers realize that there was $$$ to be made from the fantasy genre beyond Tolkien (rights already owned by Ballantine for the states). Which resulted in the publication boom of the late 70s and 80s for fantasy, and the discovery of quite a few authors we all now know.

Exactly.

Pretty much this, but on the upside if it takes off they have roughly eighty thousand books of material to exploit.

Actually, no. Highly derivative, I’ll grant you that. I think your memory is playing tricks with you if you think it’s scene-by-scene though.

I say this because there actually IS a scene-by-scene theft of LotR. The outright simulacrum award goes to Dennis L. McKiernan’s Iron Tower Trilogy, hobbits, watcher in the water, wizard falls in a Moria setting - right on down the line. The author even admits it as a selling point.

In comparison to the Iron Tower Trilogy, The Sword of Shannara is the heart and soul of originality in heroic fantasy. That’s how bad Iron Tower is.