Super fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy are some of the most hard-core nerds out there. Potterheads may have their encyclopedias, but Tolkienites have their universe creation stories. To them, the Hobbit trilogy was anywhere from a mildly uncomfortable romp back into the world we love, to an unbearable slog through Peter Jackson’s attempt to milk the franchise dry. People have even gone so far as to edit the Hobbit trilogy into one cohesive story that stuck to the book - and it’s pretty good!
So with the upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series from Amazon Prime, fans are waiting with bated breath. With more than one billion dollars being thrown at this five-season spectacle, will it be as triumphant as Aragorn’s rule over the Reunited Kingdom, or will it burn like Lake Town under Smaug’s shadow? Here are ten things super fans want from the Lord of the Rings TV series.
10. Don’t Try To Make It Gritty
Lord of the Rings isn’t a dark and gritty story. There is drama, but the main characters always make it out ok. Sources close to set indicate that the first season will follow a young Aragorn. He was 87 by the time we saw him The Fellowship of the Ring so there is plenty of story to tell. None of it is particularly gruesome or harrowing, though, so there is no need to give it the same treatment as the recent King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Robin Hood movies - which were both critically panned.
9. Don’t “Prequel-ize” It
Tolkeinites are very clear about what happened and what didn’t happen in Lord of the Rings lore. The last thing anyone wants is a cutesy scene when a young Aragorn meets Legolas’s brother. Fans are being told the first season is about a young Aragorn so they are expecting that to be the focus. According to the source material, the only familiar faces fans should be expecting are Elrond, Arwen, and Gandalf, so those should be the only ones we see. Speaking of source material...
8. Stick To The Silmarillion (Sort Of)
With a series that is supposed to be about The Lord of the Rings, and that starts with a season focused on the main character prior to the start of the first book, it would be smart to draw from the massive tome that is The Silmarillion. However, Amazon announced that their deal only includes the works of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and explicitly does not include The Silmarillion. This is both freeing and worrisome. The Silmarillion is less story and more fact-sheet so it could never really be adapted in a direct sense, but it provides an amazing framework that could be used as a guide. Not having the rights to it is a blow, but if the writers are able to stick to the spirit of it, then we might be ok.
7. Original Cast (Or Not)
There are few who can fill the shoes of Sir Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey, and that could be a problem. Aragorn meets at least Elrond, Arwen, and Gandalf in his youth. While it’s not imperative that this happen, fans will want these meetings done right or not at all. If everyone can come back then they should bring everyone back, otherwise replacing one or more actors will cheapen the experience. Sir Ian McKellan has even offered to return for the show! If not, then a character can be influential in a scene without ever being seen.
6. Practical Effects
One of the biggest visual differences between The Lord of the Rings movies and the Hobbit trilogy was the shift from practical effects to CGI. While some epic set pieces need the help of a graphic artist, everything that was up close and personal in The Lord of the Rings was done with prosthetics and makeup (Gollum notwithstanding). In The Hobbit, this emphasis moved to CGI and it had a noticeably negative impact on the movie and the crew. Sir Ian McKellan famously almost quit acting altogether after hours of shooting alone, surrounded by green screens and tennis balls.
5. Original Storytelling
With five seasons of Lord of the Rings being announced, there is plenty of room for original, out of the box storytelling. If the source material of The Silmarillion is off the table, writers are going to come up with their own sprawling epic to fill at least fifty hours of captivating television. Whether anyone wants it or not, there will be comparisons to Game of Thrones; and as such, the story-telling will have to be interesting. Game of Thrones has set the bar high for political drama and sprawling action and The Lord of the Rings will have to match that level of intensity from time to time to be successful.
4. Return to Iconic Set Pieces
Some sets in the Lord of the Rings movies are truly iconic, such as Gondor and Khazad-dûm. If the show is to return to these locations, it would be best to use the sets that were built for the movies. This is similar to wanting to see the original cast return, if they can; any set piece that gets re-imagined will inevitably be compared and contrasted and analyzed to death. May as well stick to what works and reuse the unbreachable walls of Helm’s Deep. And along those lines...
3. New Zealand
The world of Middle Earth is topographically as diverse as, well, New Zealand. Rolling hills lead to dense forest next to towering mountains flanked by impenetrable marshlands. It’s a land that feels like Middle Earth through and through. Aside from making filming less expensive, a return here could take advantage of the sets that have already been built into the hills. If nothing else in the series is reused from the movies, at the very least a return to New Zealand will feel like a return home.
There are many, many songs in Lord of the Rings and Hobbit books, and only a small handful made it into the films. While the vast majority of the songs that were in the books don’t contribute directly to the plot, they help flesh out the world of Middle Earth. Songs of joy and sorrow retell stories of long ago that help build the world and make it real. This truly separates the super fans from the casual. Everyone loves Richard Armitage’s rendition of “Far Over The Misty Mountain Cold”, but who could forget “I Sit Beside The Fire And Think”? Super fans know.
1. Tom Bombadil
Most fans were mostly approving of at least the Lord of the Rings movies, but across the board, everyone had the same question: Where is Tom Bombadil? The strange sing-song man and his wife, were almost entirely absent from the movies, save for a few lines given to other characters. Was he too difficult to fit into the vision of Peter Jackson? Perhaps, but a slightly omniscient being that simultaneously cares and is care-free could easily be woven into any story of Middle Earth. Not much is revealed in the books about his true nature, but many speculate that Tom is one of the Ainur, angelic beings that helped shape Middle Earth. Having him around will delight superfans, but trying to suss out his true origins will just leave them divided.