*WARNING* the below is yet another opinion on the announced LOTR tv series. It gets nerdy. It gets angry and ultimately goes nowhere.
It’s time to discuss a serious issue.
The Lord of the Rings.
I love the Lord of the Rings, both the books and the amazing films. It’s one of the few franchises I think the films were actually better. That might be a controversial statement, but they cut out all the singing for a start, all that endless singing. Many fans have complained about the movies’ failing to include Tom Bombadil, but they’re fucking idiots. Tom Bombadil was shit and fairly inconsequential really.
The books, as we all know, effectively spawned what we know to be the fantasy genre we have today. The best genre there is. There’s a lot of shit fantasy, but that’s not the genre’s fault now is it? There’s a lot of shit everything. The point is, fantasy is great and The Lord of the Rings and the history of Middle-earth is some of the best fantasy out there.
We have recently seen the golden age of television. TV is surpassing their big screen counterparts. With more space and time to tell a story and develop compelling characters, we have seen some of the greatest shows to ever be made. Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire the list goes on. Sure, there’s a certain formula to a lot of the current shows, 2 parts violence to 1 part sex, but there’s a formula to everything in life.
So, taken altogether, Amazon’s recently announced LOTR tv series is something to get really excited about.
If you’re an idiot.
This is without a doubt the worst idea in the history of bad ideas. It’s worse than that one you had about buying a dog, now look at you, you’re outside in the cold picking up it’s shit aren’t you? You idiot!
For starters they [Amazon] paid $250 million for the rights to said franchise. That’s a lot of money. I mean, that’s a huge amount of money. If you got that amount of money in $1 bills and laid it out, you’d have $250 million $1 dollar bills, and you’d also be an idiot, why would you do that?
That’s quite the investment. It needs to pay off (or maybe it doesn’t, this is Amazon and they own everything, even me and my array of jumpers). It reeks of desperation. Amazon’s streaming service hasn’t been as successful as it would have liked, with the monolithic fantasy franchise Game of Thrones soon to be at an end, people are going to want their fix of swords and sex and dragons. Except, that’s not LOTR. George RR Martin’s, A Clash of Kings (I think, I can’t be bothered to research this) starts off with a detailed description of Theon getting a blowjob. I dare you to read the LOTR and find a scene where Sam Gamgee visits a brothel and gets his balls stepped on by a stiletto wearing dominatrix. Whilst there is no doubt a video on the internet depicting just this, what I’m trying to say is, tonally, graphic sex scenes would not suit The LOTR world. If Amazon are hoping to entice Game of Thrones viewers over to their channel, there’s a chance they could be disappointed. And if they spruce it up and throw in some gratuitous sex, LOTR fans will probably be disappointed.
More to the point, as already expressed, LOTR has the perfect adaptation in Peter Jackson’s trilogy. What more can they bring to the table?
Uh-oh, did I just hear the word ‘prequel’ on the wind. Like a black cat walking up your path that is a bad sign.
Prequel’s are, on the whole, bad ideas. Taking characters and events we know and love and forcing us to watch ‘how and why’ people got to that point and things are as they are, is often not only unnecessary, but painfully tedious. There’s very little tension to be had as we know where everything needs to go, and important back stories we are already aware of, because they’re hinted at or alluded to in the original.
Adding more detail, or delving into other ‘mysteries’ and tying up every possible loose end takes away much of the enjoyment to be had. Like Star Wars for instance, Star Wars is my childhood, my life if you will. I have no intention of watching whatever contrived piece of shit the Han Solo film will inevitably be. What made Han cool was all we knew was he was a smuggler with a Wookie friend. He was out for himself and he was badass. How he got there is entirely up to us as a viewer. How he became friends with Chewie is for us to decide and theorise, if we have that shown to us, an unlimited array of possibilities become whittled down to one. Also, Han was Harrison Ford, and he’s a charismatic stallion of a man, so that was the main allure.
Furthermore, didn’t we just have a LOTR prequel in that god awful Hobbit trilogy? That’s right, god awful! I love the Hobbit book, it was one of my favourites and was perfect how it was. Why they felt the need to turn one book half the size of The Fellowship into 3 films I will never know. Oh wait, money. Scrap that last bit. I often think if they took all the good bits from the 3 films and edit them together they could have one good film. There are many reasons the Hobbit movies were awful and I haven’t the time to go into all of them, but a large portion of the blame goes to all those unnecessary ‘prequel’ moments. All those dull and pointless scenes with the wizards investigating the possible return of the ‘Dark Lord’. As said, we know where this goes, it’s pointless, not to mention Galadriel banishes Sauron pretty easily. Then there’s one of the last lines in the third film, it’s a call back if you will (though it’s set before the original utterance, so maybe it’s a call forward?), where Gandalf says ‘Bilbo, there are many magic rings in the world and none of them should be taken lightly.’ Basically, he says that he knows Bilbo has a magic ring that he found.
Which makes him look stupid in the Fellowship when Bilbo disappears and he’s all like ‘Shit, how’d he do that?’ before spending ages researching what the hell was going on. Surely, having fought Sauron with Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman and knowing Bilbo has a magic ring, he should have put 2 and 2 together easily.
And what the hell was Legolas doing there? And who the fuck is Tauriel? Just to digress momentarily from my already quite lengthy digression, she was included to add another female to a male dominated cast. Now, whilst I applaud any attempt to organically insert some diversity, I’m not sure putting in an attractive woman whose only motivation is that she is in love with a beautiful dwarf she had one conversation with, is the right way to go about it.
Any way the point is the Hobbit was shit.
No it wasn’t.
The point is, prequels suck.
With a setting as rich as Middle-earth it could work if they set it way, way back and have it have no relation to the LOTR plot whatsoever. However, if they do that they may as well have not bought the rights and just made a series set in Bliddle-Blearth. The show plans to focus on stories “preceding The Fellowship of the Ring…” (http://deadline.com/2017/11/amazon-the-lord-of-the-rings-tv-series-multi-season-commitment-1202207065/), which doesn’t give us much to go on. Many of the events ‘preceding’ the Fellowship were summed up succinctly within the films and books themselves. How Gandalf knows Aragorn, how Sméagol became Gollum, how Sauron deceived all and became the Dark Lord, it’s all pretty much there. Anything not included by Tolkien (and he included a lot), probably isn’t worth exploring.
All in all, what we will end up with is a wannabe Game of Thrones desperately trying to use an established name for viewership. We’ll have a forced story with poorly drawn characters that all feels entirely unnecessary. It’s a symptom of the end of the golden age. In a desperate attempt to keep it going, studios are going to throw money at big names in the hope to draw a crowd. It will not work.
I’m glad I got that out my system.