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'Legend of the Seeker' - First run syndication in HD

post #1 of 572
Thread Starter 
TV series "Seeker" looks to revive fantasy genre

Fri Oct 31, 2008 1:48am EDT

By Kimberly Nordyke

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "Legend of the Seeker" is hoping to conjure up some ratings magic and revive a dormant genre when it debuts in syndication this weekend.

The weekly scripted epic fantasy, about a woodsman (Craig Horner) who discovers he has magical powers and sets out to stop a sinister tyrant, will become the first major action hour to bow in syndication in recent years with its two-hour premiere. The most recent effort, "She Spies," failed to generate much interest, lasting only two seasons (2002-04).

Many had left the genre for dead, as such big-budget first-run dramas as "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" and "Xena: Warrior Princess" were considered to be part of another era. But "Seeker" distributor Disney-ABC Domestic Television and producer ABC Studios believe the time is right for the weekly action hour to make a comeback.

"Entertainment and fantasy and escapism are very important in the world right now," Disney-ABC Domestic Television president Janice Marinelli said. "When we looked at the marketplace, there was very little first-run scripted programming available and thought there would be interest."

Those involved in the show argue that "Seeker" has several things in its favor, including the fact that it's adapted from a popular book series, Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth." The 22-episode series also boasts a substantial budget, with lots of action sequences and special effects; it's shot in high-def; and it features closed-ended episodes, so latecomers can easily catch up. Moreover, the fantasy genre has proved it has a huge fan base, as evidenced by the success of the "Harry Potter" books and films and the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

Asked if he considers the show risky, executive producer Rob Tapert said, "I think there are many people who would say that, but the action hour didn't die because the audience (interest) disappeared; it died because the quality of the action hour became subpar."

Tapert and his fellow executive producers -- Sam Raimi, Joshua Donen, Ned Nalle and Ken Biller -- are no strangers to the action hour. Raimi, Tapert and Nalle all boast "Xena" and "Hercules" among their credits, while Biller's resume includes UPN's "Star Trek: Voyager." But Tapert said "Seeker's" executive producers didn't want to bring the same approach to "Seeker" as had been done with "Xena" and "Hercules."

"We wanted to make it much more real," he said. "We didn't want to have the '90s postmodern attitude where the audience is in on the joke. 'Seeker' is much more serious than 'Hercules' and 'Xena.'"

Bill Carroll, vp and director of programming at station rep firm Katz Television Group, also thinks the show will reach an underserved audience.

"When you have something that is unique and targeted toward probably the most elusive demographic -- young male viewers -- then (the possibility for success) is pretty good," he said.

Neither Marinelli nor Tapert would talk specifics about the budget, though Tapert insists "it's the most money ever spent on a first-run syndicated hour." Offsetting the production costs is the fact that Disney is selling the series internationally. Carroll said one of the reasons the weekly scripted offerings dried up is because the overseas marketplace lost interest, but he argued that "Seeker" has the credentials to appeal to foreign audiences.

To be sure, many will be keeping an eye on "Seeker" to see how it fares -- and if it succeeds, it likely will spark a resurgence in the genre. It also would give station launch group Tribune Broadcasting, most of whose stations are affiliates of the CW, a shot of confidence in its ability to find its own scripted programming apart from a network affiliate should the need arise.

While Marinelli admits nothing is a sure thing anymore, especially in syndication, she is hopeful.

"In success, we hope to continue down this path with perhaps more scripted shows for the marketplace," she said. "We all have our fingers crossed."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

http://www.reuters.com/article/telev...49U0VA20081031
post #2 of 572
Thread Starter 
HD on WGN America.
post #3 of 572
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Carr View Post

HD on WGN America.

Mine (Comcast - Peoria) had it Pillarboxed within the 1080i screen for the first 20 minutes. I'll see if the rerun over Sunday night has it in HD and corrected.
post #4 of 572
HD on WDCW-DT 50 in Washington, DC. WDCW is a Tribune owned station, so the Tribune stations may all be showing it in HD. According to the station engineer, it will be in HD on WNUV-DT 54 in Baltimore when they air it on Sunday night.
post #5 of 572
Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod7501 View Post

Mine (Comcast - Peoria) had it Pillarboxed within the 1080i screen for the first 20 minutes. I'll see if the rerun over Sunday night has it in HD and corrected.

Same here, but I don't hold out much hope for any HD, I've got another local station showing it at 1:00 am in the morning, it's listed as HD, but I honestly don't expect it to be. I don't think any of the locals here have any HD that isn't network, but I can always hope. Wish Directv would get it on their On Demand if nothing else, I really want to see this in HD, especially when I know it's HD.
post #6 of 572
WXMI-Grand Rapids has it in SD only.
post #7 of 572
WCWN(CW) Albany has it in HD. I am sure the replay on Monday morning on WRGB(CBS) will also be in HD.
post #8 of 572
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Carr View Post

HD on WGN America.

I've only watched a few minutes, but fortunately HD on the WGN localcast via Comcast in Chicago, too.
post #9 of 572
promptly deleted from my season pass...terrible terrible show lol
post #10 of 572
HD on Tribune-owned KDAF Dallas. Watched the start of the show waiting for kickoff of the Texas game and it has some nice visuals, somewhat marred by KDAF's low bitrate.
post #11 of 572
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod7501 View Post

Mine (Comcast - Peoria) had it Pillarboxed within the 1080i screen for the first 20 minutes. I'll see if the rerun over Sunday night has it in HD and corrected.

I checked the beginning and it was 4:3 on WGN America for 23 minutes. Haven't watched it yet.
post #12 of 572
Said HD in the guide here in St. Louis, shown in SD but that's typical of the station here, can't manage to get prime time CW programming in HD most of the time.
post #13 of 572
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arative View Post

Said HD in the guide here in St. Louis, shown in SD but that's typical of the station here, can't manage to get prime time CW programming in HD most of the time.

Same here, but I don't have any problem with prime time HD, but I don't think they have the capability to do any of the syndicated stuff in HD, the guide always lists Two and half men(the syndicated version) in HD every day, but it's never been shown in HD. Too bad, I really want to watch this in HD, I have one more shot, our local Fox is showing it at 1:00 am and it's listed as HD also, I'll keep my fingers crossed, but not expecting it to happen.
post #14 of 572
some of the cinematography was movie quality, such as the horseback long shots.
post #15 of 572
What the heck is the official schedule for this on WGN America? I didn't know it was going to be on there til right now, and since the show's website unhelpfully only gives you the geographically nearest station based on your zipcode, which I can't receive by any means, I missed the premiere of it. Now here's the screwy part: tomorrow (Monday) at 3AM EST, WGN is running (according to Dish's EPG) episode 2, "Prophecy". Did they run 2 episodes already or are the episodes not airing in their numbered order? But it gets worse: Wednesday at 8PM EST it shows episode 2 again, followed by episode 4, "Destiny". Then, Saturday at 4PM EST, they have episode 4 again, followed by episode 3, "Bounty"! Making matters worse, whoever is entering the data for the EPG has the original air date for the Wednesday showing of episode 4 entered as Thursday's date, so my DVR doesn't pick it up as a new episode.
post #16 of 572
Haven't seen the show, but didn't the theatrical film die at the box-office? (At least the movie is in HD via OnDemand)
post #17 of 572
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Shaffer View Post

Did they run 2 episodes already or are the episodes not airing in their numbered order? But it gets worse: Wednesday at 8PM EST it shows episode 2 again, followed by episode 4, "Destiny". Then, Saturday at 4PM EST, they have episode 4 again, followed by episode 3, "Bounty"!

I think I can clear this up, but it gets a little confusing. First, here's the broadcast plan from Buena Vista: Each week, the stations will get two episodes -- a "primary" and a "secondary." The "secondary" episode is a repeat of the "primary" episode from the previous week. For the premiere episode, it's a little weird: The two-hour episode is actually two one-hour episodes butted together -- the first episode is "Prophecy" and the second is "Destiny." So stations aired BOTH episodes (as a two hour episode) for their "primary" run -- then they could also run "Prophecy" again as a stand-alone one-hour episode later. In my area, it ran at 1am.

Next weekend, the new episode will be "Bounty," and the second half of the two-hour premiere ("Destiny") will be the secondary episode.

Now, from looking at the WGN America schedule on DirecTV, it appears as though they are re-running both the primary and secondary from this week, which means they will have the two-hour premiere again (Prophecy + Destiny) as well as single run of the secondary (Prophecy).

*WHEW!*
post #18 of 572
Here is the list from epguides, looks like 103 is way out of order, which might explain the strange listings you are reading:
Code:
Season 1

  0.   1- 0                18 Oct 08   Legend of the Seeker: The Making of a Legend!
  1.   1- 1        101      1 Nov 08   Prophecy (1)
  2.   1- 2        102      1 Nov 08   Destiny (2)
  3.   1- 3        104      8 Nov 08   Bounty
  4.   1- 4        105     15 Nov 08   Brennidon
  5.   1- 5        106     22 Nov 08   Listener
  6.   1- 6        103     29 Nov 08   Elixir
  7.   1- 7        107      6 Dec 08   Identity
  8.   1- 8        108     13 Dec 08   Denna
  9.   1- 9        109     20 Dec 08   Puppeteer
post #19 of 572
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrusnak View Post

Haven't seen the show, but didn't the theatrical film die at the box-office? (At least the movie is in HD via OnDemand)

If you're referring to the movie "The Seeker: The Dark is Rising," this show has no relation to it. When it was first anounced "Legend of the Seeker" was called "Wizard's First Rule" which is the name of the first book in the series it's based on. I was suprised when they changed the name to "Legend of the Seeker" because I knew people would confuse it with the similarly named movie. I would have called the show "The Sword of Truth" which was the name of the Terry Goodkind series of novels.
post #20 of 572
Thread Starter 
HD on WNUV in Baltimore.
post #21 of 572
Not HD on KICU in SFBA.
post #22 of 572
Not HD on WFLI or WDSI in Chattanooga.
post #23 of 572
Just watched my recording of it. HD on KIAH Houston. I was surprised by the quality both of picture and production.
post #24 of 572
HD in Sacramento (KTXL).
post #25 of 572
WKBD-DT The CW Detroit, HD.
post #26 of 572
No HD here in Northeast Ohio.

Loved the show. Really well done. Not as cheesy as I thought it would be. Definitely not like Hercules. Some outstanding quality at times (the barrier looked really good). They had a few departures from the book, but all in all I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to this season. A few of the actors playing some of the characters just don't match what I thought they would look like (i.e. Chase).
post #27 of 572
The first two segments were SD here in Phoenix. I guess some bozo must have botched one of the national feeds since other areas of the country had the same problem.

AFA, the content, I thought it was decent not great. I've read the complete Sword of Truth series so perhaps I'm too close to it. I liked the costumes and the overall look (art direction, cinematography, etc) for the most part. Except I wish they would back off the grain a little bit in the day for night scenes.

In two hours, they really didn't do any character development at all on Kahlan and Zedd and although they did a lot of development on Richard, I still didn't really feel like I connected with the character. But again, perhaps I'm too familiar with the books and it's slanting my take.

And Kahlan's Irish accent that comes and goes was a bit disconcerting.

It's good enough I'm going to keep watching. I am a little concerned with how some things are going to be resolved since they deviated from the book in some issues.
post #28 of 572
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac The Knife View Post

The first two segments were SD here in Phoenix. I guess some bozo must have botched one of the national feeds since other areas of the country had the same problem.

AFAIK, there was only one HD feed of the premiere. SD is sent via Pathfire. If you didn't get the HD feed, AFAIK, you were SOL. There wasn't a refeed of any of the segments when the feed finished.

As for Tribune owned stations, none of the stations (AFAIK) capture the HD feed. Headquarters in Indianapolis captures the HD feed and then turns it around via a system like Pathfire, and sends it to the various station's HD file servers. I do not know if all of the Tribune owned stations are HD capable.
post #29 of 572
Quote:
Originally Posted by rebkell View Post

Wish Directv would get it on their On Demand if nothing else, I really want to see this in HD, especially when I know it's HD.

Not sure that D* could work a deal for a syndicated show like this, as it would undercut the $$$ that local stations paid to air it. Most of these syndicated contracts are written with DMA exclusive clauses in them. Having it on D* in a On-Demand tier would not make it exclusive to that market.

In any event, you are right, it is so much better in HD, especially at 36.97 Mbps.
post #30 of 572
Quote:
Originally Posted by coyoteaz View Post

[...] and it has some nice visuals, somewhat marred by KDAF's low bitrate.

That is unfortunate, since the series is fed with a average bitrate of 36.97 Mbps. It is actually fed at a constant bitrate. No VBR for some strange reason.

There should be a law that bans secondary streams if there is an HD stream, with a max of four SD only streams. ATSC sucks, especially 1080i with lots of motion. Take away bits for a SD stream and the 1080i video can start to fall apart rapidly. 1080i has a hard enough time when it is the only video stream.
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