For those who are not familiar with the fantasy series, here's a snippet of my 2008 book review:
We have Richard Cypher, a regular forest ranger, who begins his quest when his father is brutally murdered by a powerful wizard. In his journey, he meets the exquisite Kahlan Amnell, his future life partner, and together they experience tales upon tales of sorcery, mythical beasts, and magical boundaries...for Richard is named the Seeker, the one who is destined to hold the Sword of Truth. As such, he struggles with the responsibility of bringing order in a world that's about to be engulfed in darkness.
There are a number of things I like about the TV version. For one, Richard of the book is much too powerful that the writing almost feels narcissistic. He also tends to get overly philosophical. By that I mean he sounds like a preacher doing sermons. The TV series toned him down and they did away with the preachy bits. TV Richard is fun, energetic, responsible but also flawed. Craig Horner is perfect as Richard.
Speaking of perfection, it seems that casting is the series' strongest point. I couldn't imagine what Kahlan would look like in person. I also figured that her white robes would look tacky. Bridget Regan fleshes Kahlan out very well: angelic face, deadly countenance, and she rocks the white robe! Regan looks like a mother, a sister and a slave driver all rolled into one. Her chemistry with Horner is so palpable, you'll feel sorry that they can't be together (because Kahlan's powerful touch would destroy Richard).
Wizard Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander, portrayed by Bruce Spence, is as charming, wacky and...well, he's actually a lot more powerful than the book version since he seems to be using Wizard's Fire often. (In the books, Wizard's Fire takes its toll on the caster.) Season Two introduces Cara, the Mord Sith, played by Tabrett Bethell. I cannot picture a more suitable Cara, beautiful but hella scary!
Okay, it is with Darken Rahl, portrayed by Craig Parker, that I had mixed feelings about. See, I like Darken Rahl in the novels. He isn't two-dimensional and he's a blue-eyed blond. It's not that I judge by the looks but the whole angelic demeanor is what tricks everyone into thinking he can be trusted. Plus it completely opposes what his name, Darken, stands for.
Thing is, Craig Parker is a very good actor. The writers initially did not do him justice by giving him two-dimensional scenes. Here, the main villain is literally DARK, with no explanations as to why he's like that! I hate what they did to Darken Rahl at the beginning of the series, but you'd see Parker's versatility in Season Two, episode 40, "Walter", where he played a comedian who impersonated Darken Rahl. Parker would've looked good as a blonde, too. I mean, hello? Didn't he play Haldir of Lórien, who is an elf, in Lord of the Rings? Why did they have to make Darken Rahl so cliché when they've employed an actor of his caliber??
Darken Rahl (left) and Haldir of Lórien (right)
Another thing I didn't like about the series is how they completely rewrote many of the characters' origins, resulting in loony plot holes. I'm especially looking at Richard's relatives (his sister Jensen, and his father in the book that became his brother in the series). I hate what they did to Sister Nicci, too, and how her episodes resulted in Richard's power -- the essence of his war wizardry -- becoming useless. This is the thing about deviating from the original source. If you re-write the characters' origins, you had better map out their paths or the succeeding episodes could come bite you in your nether parts.
Overall, I enjoyed the series -- mostly thanks to the cast. I just couldn't stop complaining about how they took out some of The Sword of Truth's best parts. Honestly, I also want to see Sorceress Adie and the beasties Gratch and Scarlet (the dragon)...Oh!! And Nathan Rahl!!
* Haldir of Lórien's photo from http://www.haldiroflorien.com
** Darken Rahl photo from http://dadt.com/lots
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