Many changes from Wizard’s First Rule in the first two episodes
Presumably this was done to speed up Richard’s departure from Westland, so they could do a few monster-of-the-week type episodes. Most of the changes seem arbitrary to me. Unless they are planning some big shocker later, Zedd is not Richard’s grandfather (though, if they do drop this bomb later, it means Zedd basically lied to Richard in the first episode). Also, Richard does not really know Zedd until he is named Seeker. This characterization sort of worries me, as it seems to change the character in a drastic way for no real reason.
The Book of Counted Shadows is probably the biggest change. I would guess they thought the original plotline of Richard memorizing the book as a boy would be too complex to explain in an episode or two, and they might have been right. Kahlan brings the book (along with the Sword of Truth) with her into Westland. It’s apparently written in High D’Haran, which Richard can magically understand because he is the Seeker. Later on, the Book is destroyed (and Richard doesn’t memorize it or anything). It’ll be interesting to see if they write the Book out of the plotline, or if it comes back.
Some assorted things: Richard seems to be the Seeker even before he is named, as he can understand D’Haran. This is slightly different from the book. Kahlan’s sister accompanies her to the boundary before she is killed. George Cypher’s wife is not Richard’s birth mother.
The acting, on the whole, is pretty good:
The actor playing Richard does a great job. He fits the look perfectly and lends a genuine believability to his lines. Kahlan is pretty decent as well; so far, she hasn’t had much of a chance to do anything other than look cute, but she has her moments in the pilot. Zedd’s actor, the famous Bruce Spence, does a good job with an alternative interpretation of Zedd. He’s not as jovial or mischiveious and Zedd in the books, but he has his moments of quirkiness, and his smile is spot-on for Zedd. Also, I always imagined Zedd as sort of short, and Bruce towers over the other actors, so that takes some getting used to.
Some of the other actors aren’t so great, but they are able to do a passing job. Chase is just okay — he’s lost a lot of the charm he had in the books. Darken Rahl is not scary (nor blond) at all, which is disappointing. However, to give the actor the benefit of the doubt, he hasn’t had a chance to do anything but order guards around, so it’s possible for this to improve. Adie’s actress doesn’t do a great job. She seems bored, and has no accent, which makes her speech manerisms (“Adie not be knowing what you mean”) very weird. It’s like if Yoda still talked in inverted syntax, but otherwise had the voice of a normal person. It just doesn’t work.
The special effects are bad
They just are. It’s not surprising, as this is a syndicated TV show, but it’s still not ideal. The gars looked terrible; they really should have used puppets. In one scene, Zedd uses Wizard’s Fire to kill a gar, and there is a really cheesy stock explosion. I will say, though, that the actual Wizard’s Fire looked pretty much how I imagined it.
I’ll keep watching to see if the show trends in the right direction. Pilots are almost always worse than the actual show, so Legend of the Seeker actually has promise. We’ll see how willing they are to stick to the source material. Episode 9 is entitled Denna, and if they actually cover the whole Mord-Sith, Richard being tortured arc in a single episode, the show is in for a rough time.