Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Winter Full of Pirates, Vikings, and Druids!

Winter of 2016 is promising to be a fantastic year for historical and fantasy-themed television. Season 3 of Black Sails is right around the corner, followed by the debut of Season 4 of History’s Vikings. And, in perhaps the most unexpected new addition, MTV, of all networks, has already brought us a surprisingly good adaptation of Terry Brook’s Shannara Chronicles. Looks like my DVR will be working overtime!

Black Sails

Black Sails a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, starts back up on January 23rd on Starz. This is the one I’m looking most forward to, for I’ve long considered Black Sails to be one of the best shows on television. Season 2 was better than Season 1, and Season 3 may be the best yet. The pirates of Nassau are about to go to war with the English, and Ray Stevenson (Titus Pullo on HBO’s Rome) will appear as Blackbeard. This promises to be good.


Stated simply, no one – and I mean no one – should mess with Ragnar Lothbrok, and I think King Ecbert is about to learn that lesson big time. Last season, while Ragnar and the Danes were preoccupied in Paris, King Ecbert had his son kill the Danish settlers in England, breaking his peace with the Vikings. When Ragnar discovers this, I suspect he’ll be none too pleased. Season 4 premiers on February 18.

The Shannara Chronicles

I had low expectations for this one, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. This is the long awaited adaptation of Terry Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara, published in 1982 (and I think I read it around that time). This is classic fantasy, highly influenced by Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, embracing about every type of fantasy trope and cliché imaginable (although there is a good reason so many of these things seem cliché; you can check out a series of posts on that here). Nonetheless, I think MTV has done a beautiful job with this one. The show is shot in New Zealand, so it has the feel of Peter Jackson’s epic films, the special effects are far better than I would have imagined for a TV production, and it appears perfectly cast, with Manu Bennet (of Spartacus) as the druid Allanon, John Rhys-Davis (of The Lord of the Rings) as King Eventine, and a host of young actors to take up the lead roles. The show premiered on January 5, but MTV has them available for download if you want to catch up!


Bill said...

You may have missed it, but the A & E debuts "War and Peace" Monday at 9. This network has become very ignorable in recent years, but I intend to give it a try.

Bill said...

Black Sails adds yet more characters this season. Am I the only one who finds the plots hard to follow? The darkness in many scenes and the hard to understand dialogue aren't helping me.

Joseph Finley said...

Bill, thanks for the comments! I have hope for Season 3 of Black Sails, an just published a post about it.