"It was like Tolkien put some stars in the sky
and let us make out the constellations"
So, I picked up the new issue of EMPIRE that features the forthcoming RINGS OF POWER as its cover story. After creeping up on us for so long, the show's debut is almost here, scheduled for three weeks plus a weekend away. Thought I'd go through the piece and adjust my expectations, if need be, one last time.
1. "For the first time on screen, it imagines new characters and events within Middle-earth, instead of simply translating Tolkien's prose."
--It's not actually as effective as you'd think to show off your knowledge on a subject and get it wrong. Not when Tolkien fans are notoriously persnickety.
2. They're aware of the "other hands" quote (Letter to Waldman) and use it as justification for their project: "We're doing what Tolkien wanted".
3. "We wanted to do a story in Middle-earth that deserves its own space on the shelf, alongside the novels and films."
-- on the one hand, it's good to be ambitious and go all in, as it were. But the idea that this tv show or the Jackson films are the equivalent of Tolkien's books . . . no. that one just doesn't fly.
4. One of the showrunners said to think of this not as a tv show with episodes and seasons but as a 50-hour movie.
In fact, they think it transcends all previous tv ("This show attempts to surpass all TV that's gone before it")" Or, in that overused phrase, it's a game-changer. Which suggests hubris.
--just as a personal note: you know you're getting old when the thought of sitting and watching a film for fifty hours straight is appalling.
5. "This show has a lot of action in it -- more so than any television or streaming show that we've seen. Every episode has set pieces, creatures, battles, and white-nuckle fights to the death."
-- I hope they leave time in there between all the special effects for acting.
6. "Gloom is baked into The Lord of the Rings, the first seeds of which were born when Tolkien was fighting at the Somme in World War I"
--I don't know whether to mark this last point as just plain wrong, as in liable to to cause misunderstanding (Tolkien didn't think of the book until twenty years later) or let it pass as sort of right, in a way ( he did specifically referred to the death of best friends in the Somme in his Preface to LotR.
So, soon. Very soon now.
--current reading: GAME WIZARDS book.