Normally, I try and have my opinion pieces about books that I’ve read. However, this month, books have not been read. My lack of commuting over the summer has meant my progress with kindle reading on the train has somewhat reduced significantly. So instead, I’m turning to another medium to present some thoughts on, namely TV. This month, in particular, we’ve been working through The Rings of Power.
Before I begin, I feel like there are some key facts that I should lay out before I get into any further thoughts on the show so far:
- I have not read Lord of the Rings (yes, I know – unfortunately it’s just not my cup of tea for reading. Maybe, one day, just not today). As such, my working knowledge of LOTR comes from the Peter Jackson trilogy which I’ve watched a few times (and more so listened to the soundtrack of said films many, many times more. I’m coming to this show with absolutely no background as to what is going on, apart from a few of the key names (Galadriel, Elrond, Sauron etc).
- I’m not drawing comparisons between this and House of Dragon, HBO’s new Games of Thrones #2. I know GoT is some people’s cup of tea for fantasy, but it’s really not mine – I got through the first two books and it didn’t click for me. So no comparisons here between another show I’ve never watched.
Okay, now with the housekeeping out of the way, let’s get into some opinions! Note, there will be spoilers for all of the published episodes to date (ep 4)
Things I liked
I’m going to start with the positive, because there are many things that are positive about this show:
- It’s very pretty. This is Amazon’s most expensive TV show, and boy does it show. The scenic shots, the CGI, the clothing, all look very impressive. As my husband said, it’s the type of show that is going to win awards in all of the technical categories because it’s so darn pretty.
- Elrond and Durin. You know what, I wasn’t sold on Elrond at the start, but I’m starting to like him more. His scenes with Durin and the dwarfs are a joy to watch, especially the banter back and forth between the characters.
- Regional Accents. Okay, this is more because I find it amusing that every fantasy show has regional UK accents, but the fact the dwarfs are thick Scottish whilst the Halfoots have an Irish lilt does amuse me. Even though we’re in another world, far away from the linguistic history of the UK, the Powers that Be decree that these accents make it to the show.
- Half-foots. I really like the Halfoots, especially Elanor. She’s endearing, quick and witty and just a delight to watch.
- It’s fantasy TV show. Yes, I will put this as a positive because it is fun to watch fantasy TV show. It’s only going to continue improve the visibility of fantasy as a genre in more mainstream circles, and it’s nice there is a fantasy which is more high, traditional fantasy rather than the gritty realism fantasy that has come to dominate in the wake of Game of Thrones
- Elendil/Isildur plotline. I really enjoyed the father/son dynamic that we got introduced here, with the son trying to forge his own path and the father trying to do what is best for his son. It’s one of the more engaging and interesting plotlines we’ve had so far!
Things I don’t like
Whenever I watch a new show, one of my indicators of interest is how often I’ll look at my phone. For something that’s gripping and engaging, the phone won’t exist for that hour. For something that I’m struggling to engage with, I’ll be scrolling through my phone at the same time.
For me, Rings of Power is a show that I sit scrolling through. It’s very pretty, it is a lot of fun, but it is not engaging.
One thing I will say now – I cannot keep track of character names. So instead, bar the few names I already know, I give them fun monikers until I learn their names properly. I’ve put their “real names” in too, but I’ve kept their monikers as well because, well, it’s how I refer to them in my head.
Here are some things that I really struggle with in Rings of Power:
- Pretty but not got content. So my key problem with this show is it is very, very pretty, but the script has absolutely zero content. There are scenes which literally add nothing to the plot, slow mo shots that are really not necessary (do we need a slow mo shot of Galadriel riding a horse along a beach grinning like a child given a candy? No, we do not). As my husband summarised, it’s a show which is designed to have lots of lovely promo shots, but not actually got anything to back it up.
- “Let’s defeat Sauron”. Okay, we know that defeating Sauron is going to be the Main Goal. But for me, this suffers the same problem that the prequel trilogy does for Star Wars – namely we know the good guys do not win. We, as the audience, know this fact, because we know Frodo has to go on his quest to defeat Sauron. Even though this show is not a “prequel” to the films, it’s common enough knowledge about where the story goes that it just makes a farce of the “will they defeat Sauron?” plotline. We know they don’t, we know what happens, so rather than making us question whether they defeat Sauron, maybe we can focus on a different lens for the same plotline. You could do “fighting against all cost and hope” lens and allow Galadriel to do the exact same plot but without the “but will they defeat Sauron” undercurrent that is portrayed. It would also make Galadriel’s storyline a lot less “empty”, because we’ve then got some emotional buy-in to her fight – she’s then fighting against the world that doesn’t want to help her, and needs to prove that world wrong.
- Introducing all the plotlines in episode 1. I really think the show tries to set up these multi-plotline stories before we really get embedded into any one character’s storyline. We’ve got Galadriel whose introduced as the main character, so why don’t we stick with her for longer? Show her trauma with some nightmares, show her grit in the fight. Instead, we get lots of cut scenes away from that to Arondir/Bronwyn who could have been introduced later when we met the Southlands’ chap (Real character name: Halbrand), to show the impact of what we get told about the Orcs taking over the Southlands.
- Galadriel. Now, as a concept this character is pretty neat. In the LotR films, she’s pretty neat. In fact, she’s both ethereal and terrifying, which I wish we could see in the TV show. However, she seems to swing between being overly aloof to everyone whilst simultaneously venting at anyone who will listen about how we all need to gang up against Sauron. I don’t think this is anything to do with the actress’ performance, and more to do with the script that sits beneath it. We’re supposed to believe she’s driven to defeat Sauron, but the words she says are just….whiny quite frankly.
- “Blue Dress Lady” and the forced romantic plotline. “Blue Dress Lady” (real character name: Bronwyn”) could be super cool. She’s a leader, she’s trying to save her people. Why dear god do we need a forced romantic plotline within the first episode between her and “elf dude” (real character name: Arondir). WHY? We can have some female characters please without a forced romance with another character. I don’t mind a romantic sub-plot, but please dear god do not shove one in the first episode and expect us as the audience to buy into it.
Will I finish the series? Totally, it’s a fun watch to have with dinner whilst scrolling through my phone. Will I recommend it as much as I have The Sandman (another show I have no background on, but was bloody brilliant), probably not.
Have you watched The Rings of Power? What did you think?
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