TV Review: Legend of the Seeker

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It seems somehow almost quaint that ABC Studios and Disney-ABC Domestic TV should trot a fantasy drama series into national syndication, in the faint footsteps of the 1990s phenomenons "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys."

The days of stations clamoring for product might be largely a thing of the past, but Disney apparently cleared the 22-episode "Legend of the Seeker" in more than 95% of the country and each of the top 50 markets.

Perhaps this proves that we're all still suckers for witches and warlocks and gargoyles and elaborate visual effects and guys with six-pack abs pretending not to be attracted to hot babes with abundant cleavage.

Mounted by the creators of "Xena" and "Hercules" and based on the best-selling novels of Terry Goodkind, "Seeker" is both endearingly retro and agonizingly humorless, a kind of poor man's "Lord of the Rings" that, like "Rings," was shot in the breathtaking wilds of New Zealand.

The opening two-hour stanza, adapted from Goodkind's "Wizard's First Rule," is rife with spectacular vistas and dazzling visuals from effects supervisors Dean Clarke and Charlie McClellan and overseen by the esteemed partners Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert and their fellow exec producers.

"Seeker" tells the ambiguous tale of a woodsman named Richard Cypher (Aussie actor Craig Horner), whose shirtless attributes are put out on beefcake display in the very first scene. It turns out he has been infused with unwitting magical powers that he's duty-bound to use in halting the evil scheming of your garden variety sinister tyrant (Craig Parker).

Richie is accompanied on this quest by the comely Kahlan Amnell (Bridget Regan), whose very stare can transform men into puddles of pudding, and Zedd (Bruce Spence) the all-wise and powerful wizard who can't believe he's got to save the world from enslavement again.

Simply describing all of this feels like the aftereffects of having ingested acid-laced Kool-Aid. But for those who buy into the fantasy-mystery genre, it's heavy stuff. If you don't, well, these people might as well be speaking Latin.

Big on style but more challenged in terms of substance, "Seeker" demonstrates much production savvy but at the same time too little provocative/evocative interaction aside from the ultra-violent kind.

Production: ABC Studios.
Executive producers: Joshua Donen, Ned Nalle, Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Ken Biller.
Co-executive producers: Barry Schkolnick, Stephen Tolkin.
Producers: Chloe Smith, David Roessell, Mark Beesley.
Supervising producers: Mike Sussman, Chad Fiveash, James Stoteraux.
Writers: John Shiban, Ken Biller, Stephen Tolkin, Barry Schkolnick.
Director: Mark Beesley.
Director of photography: Aaron Morton.
Production designer: Robert Gillies.
Costume designer: Jane Holland.
Editors: Gary Hunt, Eric de Beus.
Music: Joseph LoDuca.
Casting: Wendy O'Brien, Annabel Lomas.
Cast: Craig Horner, Bridget Regan, Bruce Spence, Jay Laga'aia, Craig Parker, Andrew Robertt, Jeffrey Thomas. David de Lautour, Tania Nolan, Dylan Holmes, Ben Fransham, Vicky Haughton, Jennifer Rucker, Catherine Stephen, Marek Sumich.
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