Fandango’s Provocative Question #183

The right question, but the wrong “slant.”

I could care less what race they show them to be, but I do care how much they distort the story and how little they apparently care for J.R.R. Tolkien’s actual written work.

If they don’t like what he wrote, why are they making a series out of his books? I’ve read LOTR maybe a dozen times and listened to it on tape and CD at least a dozen more times including back when it was on cassette tapes because they hadn’t invented CDs yet. I’m not quite the expert Stephen Colbert is, but I know the books pretty well. I’ve seen the movies. I own all the movies and I own the expanded version of the movies.

We used to have an annual “Fall of Sauron” party on the 21st of March or as close as we could get to the day when Gollum and the ring went into the cracks of Doom ending Sauron’s power over MIddle Earth. I wrote the script and got lots of edits from the rest of our crowd. Over the years, the party grew in size and scope. Mostly, it included a lot of wine drinking and the consumption of barley and mushrooms, a purported favorite food of Hobbits.

We argued over whether Boromir deserved kinder treatment, took long walks at night carrying candles (I’m pretty sure the neighbors thought we were batshit crazy) and by the end of the party, everyone was plastered and full of mushrooms, cookies, cake and were wearing costumes. Yup. We had to “dress” for our roles. Some years we had sound and other special effects. I actually sewed my own cape and trust me, that was a serious stretch for me.

You could say I pretty much know how the story goes and whatever they are doing? It ain’t LOTR.

What the hell are they doing? The show is bits and pieces NOT from LOTR, but from miscellaneous other pieces Tolkien wrote but which were not published in his lifetime. It makes no sense to me. Garry and I watched the first couple of episodes and he has refused to turn it on again. I don’t blame him a bit. Garry patiently sat through all of the movies at least four times, once at the movies and the others at home. But in this series? He’s lost. He has no idea what’s going on and frankly, neither do I.

If you aren’t going to use the book, call it something else. Don’t say it’s “Lord Of The Rings” when it absolutely isn’t. THAT I find offensive both as a viewer and as a reader. I thought I might be disappointed in the remake. I didn’t think I would be appalled and embarrassed.

Categories: #FPQ, #Writing, Provocative Questions, Television, Television Review

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24 replies

  1. Actually I stand corrected. It does say the Lord of the Rings at the top of the title. But it’s still a prequal


    • So:

      Why not advertise it as what is is?
      Why not provide a context so those people who never read the other Tolkien books or read them a lifetime ago can make sense of the story?
      And finally: is there a story? So far, I’m seeing disconnected events that don’t add up to a story.


  2. I can’t comment on LOTR. I read “The Hobbit” when I was a teen but never got into LOTR either the books or the movies. What I can relate to though is when someone takes a classic story and totally changes what it was meant to be about.
    As you say, if they don’t like the original story and aren’t going to tell it don’t call it that. Make something entirely new. Of course, they do it so they can trade on the author’s name or the popularity of their work. It annoys heck out of me.


    • That’s pretty much MY take on it. If you aren’t going to actually use the book and at least some part of the original writing, then don’t call it by the title of the book you aren’t using. It bothers me as a reader and a viewer. If it’s something else, CALL it something else. They done this with almost ever well-known author and I’ve resented it every time, from childhood onward.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I recall Owen’s recent comment about diversity casting in a new film reboot of a Stephen King novel. Owen was troubled by how the new casting played havoc with King’s original character.
        Diversity, obviously, is long overdue in Hollywood. But common sense is required in the casting. Remember John Wayne’s ‘memorable’ turn as Genghis Khan in “The Conqueror”?


  3. WHEW! I thought it might just be me, but I tried watching this extensional look back at the LOTR, occurring before the story we already are familiar with, and found it wanting, To start, it was confusing, and as much as I tried to get into it, the more I felt time was being wasted…, so not for me. Ironically I have just finished watching the Hobbit and LOTR in its complete Peter Jackson form. At least he followed the books as close as he could, only taking minor liberties for the sake of, or the necessities for film adaptation. Other than that “NOPE.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too. We watched part one and I kept waiting for LOTR to show up. But it didn’t We watched part 2 and I realized they were using pieces of other writings — especially the “Silmarillion” If that’s what they are using, call it what it is. DON’T call it LOTR when its only similarity are the forms of the characters.

      We watched those two episodes and doubt we’ll be back. Ever.


    • Again, common sense is required along with the well intentioned diversity.

      I, again, offer John Wayne’s “Genghis Kahn” as exhibit A in bad casting. I also realize this is not a good example of diversity.


      • Well really it is. Ghengis was a MONGOL, not a white guy from Texas or wherever he was originally from. Sometimes, it really doesn’t matter. Sometimes, it does. For how many years did they NEVER cast Native Americans as Native Americans? I suppose you could call THAT diversity if by diversity you mean eliminating an entire ethnic group.


  4. I have not watched the new LotR series, nor do I have any desire to. From what I understand, they are based a little on The Silmarillion, though most sources say “The Appendices of The LotR”, perhaps to make them a little more legit. I did read The Silmarillion back when I was in college, and think there could be very cool series created from that source material – there were episodes in it that I felt had more potential than LotR – but I don’t trust Hollywood to do it. If I want the experience, I’ll read the book again.
    As to the skin color of characters, why not?

    Liked by 1 person

    • They spent a LOT of money on effects but apparently didn’t spend any on a competent scriptwriter. It’s incoherent. There’s a piece of this, and dollop of that — and there’s no “world-building.” In ANY fantasy or SciFi setup, you really do need to at least give your viewer/reader some idea of where they are and what’s going on. It took me until sometime around the end of the second show to realize this wasn’t LOTR at all but stuff gleaned from other writings. Which would be okay if it was coherent and organized and had a story.

      I get so tired of mashups where the ONLY thing the “movie” (or series) has to do with the book is the title. It’s a slap at author AND viewers. If they want to write a different story, use a different title. They must think we are stupid.

      Liked by 2 people

      • As I said, no desire to see it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s the trend these days, like in the pop music world, technology has taken the place of artistic ability, or pursuit. The idea is to fill as much space as you can with unlikely effects, fights and chases (either horse back, or cars), and the testosterone monkeys will flock to the cause.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ben, this is a big turnoff for me. Sometimes, I think it’s me. An old stuck-in-the mud fella.
          But it doesn’t rock my boat and that’s what those entertainment folks ‘posed to do.


      • It’s Tom. The friggin WordPress won’t let me log in as myself!
        And it’s not called the lord of the rings. It’s called the Rings of Power. They paid the Tolkien. Estate 250 million dollars for the rights for all the rights to those other writings. They can’t call it the Sillmarilion because they don’t have the rights to that book. Don’t ask me why


      • I tried to respond to this on my ipad. It won’t let me log in as myself so the whole post must have shown up as anonymous. This computer seems to recognize me. My point was everybody here seems to be upset because the show says it is the Lord Of The Rings and has nothing to with the Lord of the Rings. It isn’t called the Lord of the Rings. It’s called
        The Rings of Power. It’s about how they came about. It has nothing to do with the books. It was never supposed to be. It’s a prequel. We’re not supposed to know about it because only uber nerds like me have read any of the obscure writings Tolkein wrote about the history of middle earth. And of read a few. The show is not pretending to be anything but the prequel to the books. All the characters in the book haven’t been born yet. So you are all right. it isn’t LOTR.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tom it sure is confusing. It also isn’t entertaining and THAT’S a cardinal sin.


          • Everyone is having problem signing in from anything but a laptop. They’ve got an issue that they are not addressing.

            Your posts also aren’t showing up where they should on the blog. I’m not sure exactly what to do about this. I don’t want to disconnect you because you’ll lose your ability to get to your own posts for editing. If you are doing this on the telephone, that’s probably the problem. For some reason, EVERYONE is having trouble with the connect twixt iPhone and WP.

            Also, they have good and bad days. Some days they won’t let ME connect either, then it’s OK, then it’s not. I can set you up a new invitation. It’s also possible you don’t have the right password. Do you have your own password or do you use the same one I use? Anyway, I can ANSWER you, but your comment is invisible but my answer shows up. That doesn’t make much sense.

            All the advertisements WE are getting are calling it LOTR which it isn’t. I don’t have a problem with them doing other parts of the story. I have a problem with them saying it’s one thing, but it’s something else. I picked up on it being at least in part of the appendices — which I read — and from Silmarillion — which I read but more or less forgot.

            Its a Hollywood thing, to call something by a familiar name, then write a completely different story. They’ve been doing it since Hollywood became Hollywood. I don’t even mind when then edit things because you know, books are long and movies, not so much.

            But this wasn’t Lord of the Rings. Oh, I see, they are calling it “Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power” but omitting advertising the subtext. Because LOTR sells and the other one, not so much.

            And hey, if the don’t have the rights to Silmarillion but they are trying to turn them into a series anyway? Considering how hard the Tolkien family fought for the rights to their own books — nearly FORTY YEARS of fighting for them in court — and now, Prime’s doing it again? That’s a bit worrying, don’t you think?

            I’m having a lot of trouble relating to this series. I realized after a while that it wasn’t LOTR and I knew it was historical — but there was no introduction. NONE. Nothing. No way for anyone who hadn’t read Silmarillion or the appendices — or hadn’t read them in like 50 years — could make sense of the story. You have to provide a context in sci fi and fantasy. If you don’t, people get all kinds of pissed off about it. Mind you not only did I read the appendices, but I was a fair hand at writing in Elvish — 45 or 50 years ago! You think maybe I could use a reminder?

            So far, I haven’t figured out what the STORY is. I can’t find a plot line. And now, I’m going to try and figure out why you can’t sign on. But I gotta tellya, a lot of people are having problems with it and one day, I won’t be able to sign on either.


        • Also, they are NOT ADVERTISING IT AS A PREQUEL nor are they providing context for the millions of people who didn’t read the appendices or Silmarillion or did, but it was a lifetime ago. Some of us have trouble remembering why we went into the kitchen, so remembering the details of books we read when our 52 year-old kids were still babies is kinda stupid. They need at least ONE FULL EPISODE explaining what’s going on so the rest of us lost in the kitchen can follow it. Even the MOVIES provided a context for the first movie.

          You really MUST do that with sci fi. You can’t assume that your audience is going to remember a book they read years ago or may not have read at all. That’s one of things that has made sci fi so difficult for movie makers. They don’t provide the world-making info and then wonder why people walk out going “HUH?”

          Liked by 1 person

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