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The Forgotten Fantasy Adventure Series You Can Stream On Netflix

In an unprecedented move, MTV took a leap of faith and decided to air its own fantasy series back in 2016. Entitled The Shannara Chronicles, the show was an adaptation of a trilogy of novels by Terry Brooks, an American fantasist who has been publishing works of high fantasy in the Shannara series since the '70s. The series was the first-ever fantasy show to premiere on MTV, and it brought a ton of recognition to the cabler. Even before the adaptation, estimates of Brooks' sales figures topped 21 million copies, so the installed fanbase for this material was considerable. As a result of all these factors, the show's debut raked in 7.5 million viewers. Clearly, the series was off to a strong start. If only it had continued.

The Shannara Chronicles takes place in the titular fantasy world, in the predominant region known as the Four Lands. Per Brooks' explicit suggestion, the series begins with material from the second book in the series – The Elfstones of Shannara — bypassing the derivative Sword of Shannara, which kicked off the literary canon. 

Here's the setup: When void-loving demons begin to pour into the realm at an alarming rate, it's up to a group of heroes to save the day. Wil (Austin Butler), a half-human and half-elf joins forces with the elven princess Amberle (Poppy Drayton) and former thief Eretria (Ivana Baquero) to help prevent any further calamity. Helping the trio along their journey is Allanon (Manu Bennett), the last living druid, who guides them through their perilous adventures. 

Despite its short-lived run, The Shannara Chronicles was generally well received. If you missed it, Netflix is offering the opportunity to catch up.

The Shannara Chronicles starts off as a soapy teen drama, but eventually turns into something greater

The Shannara Chronicles currently holds a 78% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with many reviewers praising the direction of the series' second season, in particular. That's not to say that the first season is terrible; in fact, many critics drew comparisons between The Shannara Chronicles and HBO's Game of Thrones. However, a lot of critics found the show's soapy teen drama tone a little too hard to swallow given the scale of the fantasy epic. 

"Here's the thing with teen-baiting sexiness though: it's an aesthetic that becomes grating when the story surrounding it is so serious, if only because teen-baiting sexiness is so serious in itself," wrote Dan Caffrey in his review of the show for the A.V. Club.

Fortunately, the series' second season rectifies most of these issues. With the teen soapy elements taking a backseat, the series focuses more on the story and its character development. Critics were overall pleased with the show's new direction, making The Shannara Chronicles' second season the overall superior chapter in the series. "While not quite the auspicious rebirth it could have been, Druid is a vast improvement over the narrative meandering that previously plagued the series," wrote Andrew Marshall in a review for Starburst Magazine.

Although The Shannara Chronicles seemed to be finding its legs, it sadly met its end in 2018. During its run, the show jumped from MTV to Spike for its second season. A third entry was initially planned to air on Paramount Network, but this ended up not panning out, meaning the series' second season is its last. Despite the abrupt conclusion, it's still an enjoyable watch. 

The whole run is currently available on Netflix.