Thursday, September 1, 2022

the ringzzzz ... oh, sorry, I fell asleep

I watched the first episode and a bit of the second of The Rings of Power, giving up about ten minutes into the second when the two hobbits (yes they are, they're hobbits) have the same conversation for about the fifth time in those ten minutes about whether they should help the stranger from the meteor. Any curiosity about who the stranger is is not worth wading through more of this to satisfy. Besides, I can find out more efficiently when the spoiler plot summaries get written.

But first, let me give this show compliments where due:
1) The scenery is awfully pretty.
1a) Furthermore, it's bright and sunny when it's supposed to be bright and sunny. Peter Jackson made everything with elves in it dark and gloomy.
2) They know how to pronounce "Sauron" correctly.

This show is fan fiction: fan fiction with a large budget. It quickly departs from the known facts within Tolkien's sub-creation sufficiently far, and unnecessarily so, that I can't really feel it has anything to do with Tolkien. Which won't prevent many people from mixing up its characters and plot with Tolkien's characters and plot.

Furthermore, it's dull and mundane. Everybody in it, at least the elves, is either a righteous monomaniac or else a conniving skeever. There's no morals, only the cheap imitation politics of bad fiction. It doesn't feel at all Tolkienian. I kept feeling the breath of Le Guin's "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" down my neck.

I guess I get something different out of Tolkien's works than some other people. I don't care for this invented world because of the characters, or the setting, or the plot. That's nice but it's not what I'm there for. What makes Tolkien's stories worthwhile is the skill and quality with which he wrote them. And if you want to know more about that, check out the critical works of Verlyn Flieger, who's done more than anyone else to illuminate that skill and those qualities.

What I want is Tolkien's writing, not some cheap imitation that can't do what he does. It doesn't satisfy me, it's not what I want.


  1. I have now watched the first two episodes (at Oxonmoot – I do not have Amazon Prime), and I mostly agree.

    These two episodes actually feel as though they owe considerably more to Paramount's [i]Shannara Chronicles[/i] TV-series from 2016 than they do to Tolkien.

    I'm probably a bit more positive, as I'd say that it'd work for me as light entertainment, but not enough to get me to pay for Amazon Prime ([i]Doctor Who[/i] might convince me, though, in which case, I will probably also watch some more of [i]The Rings of Power[/i] for it's ability to entertain).

    The visuals are spectacular and beautiful – and they do, in my view, work quite well. The script is rather run-of-the-mill high fantasy, and that is what owes considerably more to [i]The Shannara Chronicles[/i] than to Tolkien. Unfortunately this mediocre script doesn't just affect the plot, but also the characters, and the philosophical underpinnings of this world (which seem very sketchy and shallow, though I acknowledge that this can be difficult to say for certain on the basis of only two episodes)

    Nonetheless, these two episodes did manage to make me mildly interested in the fates of the characters, and that is of course the first step.

    As for the worst bit ... I spoke to one who thought that they (the creators of the TV-series) had had help with the names of Elves and Dwarves, but had probably thought that they could handle Hobbits and Men without assistance. If so, they were wrong. Very wrong!

    1. Most of the hobbit names, which I learned from the close-caption feature (which names characters who aren't onscreen when they speak) are taken from the family trees in LR: Sadoc or Poppy. Most glaring was the principal hobbit, Elanor, whose name was invented (as a personal name) by Sam for his daughter several thousand years later. Further, she's known for short as Nori, which is a dwarf name. Ugh.

  2. "And if you want to know more about that, check out the critical works of Verlyn Flieger, who's done more than anyone else to illuminate that skill and those qualities."

    Just thought that bore repeating. Carry on!