The producing team of Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert enjoyed considerable success a few years back with “Hercules” and “Xena,” but their latest firstrun adventure, “Legend of the Seeker,” won’t do much beyond stirring up nostalgia for those legendary journeys. Based on an epic fantasy property, the program showcases the handsome New Zealand exteriors millions came to admire in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, but its mix of swords, sorcery and “Star Wars” makes for a less-potent potion than “Seeker” will likely need in order to find more than a geek-niche audience.
In workmanlike fashion, the show’s two-hour debut goes about the task of introducing young Richard (Aussie hunk Craig Horner), an unassuming lad (unless you’re enamored with washboard abs) who discovers he’s part of a much larger, nobler plan — just another kid of modest origins destined to save the universe.
Minding his own business in the woods, Richard encounters Kahlan (Bridget Regan), a fugitive from the other side of a mystical boundary on a mission to find “the seeker,” a figure with the power to stop the ruthless tyrant Darken Rahl (Craig Parker). With sword-wielding soldiers in hot pursuit, she and Richard go about unearthing his Moses-like background, receiving aid from the crazy old wizard Zedd (“The Road Warrior’s” Bruce Spence), who — you guessed it — has been watching over the unsuspecting Richard until the proper time comes.
Although he bears an unfortunate resemblance to Edgar Winter, Zedd shoots fire from his fingers and dispenses Yoda-like advice such as “Clear your mind of what was and will be. See only the task that is.” Nonsensical as this sounds, it comes in handy later when a hopelessly outnumbered Richard and Kahlan must defend themselves against a pitchfork-wielding mob or an army of incredibly inept warriors.
There’s nothing howlingly bad here (except perhaps for a few of the supporting performances), but nothing particularly distinctive, either. Rather, “Legend of the Seeker” feels like a hodgepodge of better sci-fi/fantasy fare, including slow-motion action sequences that looked way-cool in “300” and this time around merely feel like a cheap way of ensuring nobody gets clipped by an errant sword.
Disney is producing and distributing the 22-episode order, which in light of the show’s youth-oriented qualities could easily have played on one of the studio’s cable platforms. Thus exploring the wilds of firstrun syndication is probably the most daring aspect of “Seeker’s” familiar quest.