Lights, camera, lots of action

NEW YORK — On Legend of the Seeker, the heroes do the work for you.

Chiseled woodsman Richard Cypher and his even prettier protectress Kahlan Amnell stay on the run, dodging arrows and parrying swords as they chase an evil force that would enslave the known world.

Richard, only recently pegged as "the one true Seeker," is likely to surprise himself with magical powers he never imagined. As a so-called Confessor, Kahlan has her own peculiar charm: No person can lie to her.

They cover a lot of ground on their rugged steeds. It's a hectic lifestyle.

"Our characters are always on the move," said Bridget Regan, who plays Kahlan. "We don't stay put. Ever."

But viewers tuning in to this new adventure-fantasy series can relax. You will not be challenged. Legend of the Seeker is a quest through the reassuringly familiar. It's a once-upon-a-time retreat into the lush wilds of New Zealand, where the series is shot, jazzed with eye-popping visual effects. Plus enough female cleavage to ensure that the audience's menfolk are amused.

The series is produced by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, co-creators of past syndicated hits Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess.

It stars Bruce Spence as Zedd, the venerable wizard who assists with wisdom and sorcery. And playing Richard, the Seeker, is Australian actor Craig Horner.

It's based on the Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind, which Horner, 25, had never read. "But I have a lot of geeky friends who are really into sci-fi books. One of my mates, when he saw my script for the pilot, said, 'Dude, you have got to audition for this!'"

Regan, 26, a San Diego native, scored her role while living in New York, where she had appeared in Law & Order: Criminal Intent and The Black Donnellys and on Broadway in the adaptation of Mark Twain's Is He Dead?

"Bridget's from America," said Horner, "I'm from Australia, and we're shooting in New Zealand. It couldn't be more perfect! Our two characters are from different worlds, put on a journey together. So when Bridget and I arrived for the series, we were like: 'We can do this!'"

Regan said getting uprooted helped connect her with her character, who, just as suddenly, throws in with the Seeker, for whose mission Kahlan is ready to lay down her life.

"But as soon as we got to New Zealand," Horner recalled, "we found out the series had been delayed for six weeks. They said, 'You know what? We're not quite ready.' We said, 'Now what?'"

"They kept us busy," Regan hastened to add.

Riding lessons, sword-fighting lessons — there was plenty to do.

Along with fantasy, mystery, action and adventure, Legend of the Seeker has its flirtatious moments between Richard and Kahlan. Early on, Zedd got all chaperone-y on them, lecturing Richard that romance with Kahlan "can never be." This is a sacred mission, not a booty call!

And yet ...