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Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power S1E7 Review “The Eye” #AmazonReview #LOTR #RingsofPower

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS

Bad lines badly delivered

Episode seven of The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, “The Ring”, opens with Hellish scenes, and beautiful, evocative and compelling visuals reminiscent of the Fassbender version of Macbeth. Absolute carnage, apart from Galdriel who is somehow still standing. Effective, shocking and wonderful imagery. But seriously, how is she still alive?

The problem as ever is that all the flabby dialogue and acting ruins anything remotely good. “He’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone” and “Soldiers, soldiers, the roof’s about to fall down” and “what cannot be known hollows the mind, fill it not with guesswork” inspiring stuff that was surely homaged (a.k.a. nicked) straight from the pages of Macbeth or Henry V. Indeed, I sensed the tongue of Lawrence Olivier on the brain of some of these players and screenwrights, or so the showrunners and the showrunners alone clearly think. Bad lines badly delivered: this is a case where two negatives don’t make a positive. The way they almost got crushed by a tree was so bad, the acting so comical, that it completely ruined the beautiful visuals. So terribly discordant, once again.

An emotional moment between Gimli 2 and Legolas 2 was probably the best moment of the season so far. This is probably the most interesting relationship along with that between Gimli 2 and his Dad. Indeed, the best acting comes from Gimli 2’s Dad played by Peter Mullin. But they still managed to ruin this mini-success in the show by Gimli 2’s wife being more of a man than him in almost every single way. Gimli 2’s wife indeed has suddenly become Lady Macbeth in this episode, although I’m not sure where the character arc was that led to this. Although that surely would have been a good character arc had they actually bothered to do it.

Fundamentally, the problem remains that we’re just not that invested in the characters, and the odd good moments only serve to highlight how truly awful everything else is. Probably-Gandalf is handed an apple by Female Frodo, swell of music, but we just don’t care no matter how loud they lay that score on.

WHICH YARDSTICK?

When this series began, I was determined to not compare it to Tolkien’s original work, but to evaluate it on its own terms. Tolkien is a high bar to meet, and I feel that would be a handicap for any show. Indeed, that’s why I esteem the Jackson-Boyens-Walsh trilogy so much, as their work was not only excellent on its own terms but also on the terms laid down by Tolkien. Yet even by my looser desire to merely see a great show, rather than a great show which does true justice to the beloved late Professor Tolkien’s works, and despite being someone who desperately wants this show to succeed, I just cannot give any episode more than a three out of five, and even then the threes are being scraped; indeed, I wonder how much my misplaced loyalty to the world of Middle-Earth is colouring my views and pushing me towards lenience to this show.

This series has some good moments and some bad moments. But the overall vibe is an amateurish fanfic, but a fanfic not even set in Tolkien’s universe but set in a universe designed to nod to Tolkien’s. I’m not sure why or how a great company like Amazon with a great IP like this has managed to produce this substandard piece of work.

SILLY STUFF

And why does Galadriel love doing stuff “at first light”? It’s really getting silly now. Oh wait, hang on, it’s gets sillier still: the way the name reveal of Mordor was handled has to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. It was absolutely stupid.

Oh, and actually, how did everyone survive a volcano going off in their face? The writers didn’t even go with the cop outs of a deus ex machina or the “it was all a dream” tosh. The characters just… survived. That’s all.

IN SHORT

The episode makes no sense. The characters are not characters and they have no arc. The series doesn’t hang together.

2/5

© 2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power S1E6 Review “Udûn” #AmazonReview #LOTR #RingsofPower

a memberberry wrapped in a mystery box just for the sake of it

In Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power Episode 6, “Udûn”, we find out who Adar really is, the orcs try to take the Southlanders’ village, the evil broken sword’s true purpose is revealed, and there is an explosive finale.

A lot of action, for a change, but it’s a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. I had to work quite hard to pay attention as I was fairly bored again. And I want this series to be good, I’m really trying here. These dramatic moments, and to be fair there were several in this week’s outing, aren’t that interesting as we just don’t care about the characters and we just don’t care about the world. And then there’s the shoddy dialogue. No amount of dramatic music and explosive action can remedy these fatal flaws.

“One cannot satisfy thirst by drinking seawater”. We’re back to the Shakespeare-level lines here. The dialogue isn’t getting any better as this series goes on.

Big emotional moment between Galdriel and Halbrand. She stops Halbrand killing someone. Then they sit down like proper hombres together. “Thank you.” “No, thank you” “Thank you” “Thank you” “You saved me” “You saved me” Etc. I expected them to get down to it right then and there. It’s all just a little bit sh*te.

This show has since the beginning heavily featured plagiarised versions of characters we love in order to kind of soft reboot the Lord of the Rings: there’s probably-Gandalf, Legolas 2, Gimli 2, basically-Hobbits, Female Sam and Frodo, and so on. We’ve also got pseudo-ring (the broken sword) and pseudo-Gollum (what’s-her-face’s son), but we don’t care. And when we find out what the pseudo-ring / broken sword is for, it doesn’t really make any sense. Kind of like it was merely a memberberry wrapped in a mystery box just for the sake of it.

The episode was marginally stronger than average. Mainly because stuff was actually happening, at last, and there was none of the stupid Gimli 2 – Legolas 2 bromance, no Zummerzet-Irish hobbits, and none of that Númenorean stuff which has always felt like a different show. Nonetheless, it just doesn’t make sense. Especially the ending. I don’t see where we go from here… There is literally no way the series can even continue after this week’s finale, short of a cop-out “it was all a dream” or a deus ex machine ending.

Most episodes are barely scraping a three-star review, but whereas most episodes are just about passable in isolation, the series itself as a whole simply isn’t hanging together in any way that makes sense. The mystery box broken sword exemplifies that. So far, Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power is far less than the sum of its very imperfect parts.

3/5

© 2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power S1E5 Review “Partings” #AmazonReview #LOTR #RingsofPower

I only spent half the time distracted [this episode] … hardly a ringing endorsement

Episode 5 of Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, “Partings”, sees the Southlanders split between two factions — those who are going over to the dark side and those who will stand and fight. We also witness the Queen of Númenor having to make a fateful decision.

“Partings” started slow but got better as it went on. It’s definitely stronger than the previous episode, and I know this because I found myself merely checking my phone whilst watching rather than checking the show whilst watching my phone. And I didn’t fall asleep again. However, saying that “I only spent half the time distracted instead of almost all of it and that I remained conscious” is hardly a ringing endorsement.

The big problem continues to be the characters — and that is really a fatal flaw for any piece of work. What actually motivates them? The Queen of Númenor’s fateful decision doesn’t seem to be based on much nor make sense at all. And Galadriel, ostensibly the star of the show, continues to resemble a teenage fan fiction version; petulant, stupid, arrogant, essentially angsty and definitely not a good guy. She would have been mediocre in a budget network 1990s show. I just don’t buy into any of the characters. It’s hard to care when relationships aren’t properly established or developed and when we don’t really feel like we know our characters.

However, on a plus point, black-guy-who-is-the-friend-of-the-guy-who-is-supposed-to-be-Isildur (he’s Isildur inasmuch as the Galadriel in this show is Galadriel and I am Father Christmas), that is, the guy who fell out with “Isildur” previously, shows signs of potentially maybe having the possibility of becoming an okay character, eventually.

“Partings” was somewhat better than the previous ep, but to say I was “gripped” would be an overstatement. Whereas the previous episode was a two-out-of-five, this outing was a solid 3 minus.

Let’s see if this season has the exit velocity to launch us into a hopefully much improved season two. That’s the best we can hope for at this stage.

3/5

© 2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power S1E4 Review “The Great Wave” #AmazonReview #LOTR #RingsofPower

The Rings of Power: a cure for insomnia

Rings of Power Episode 4, “The Great Wave”, involves more Númenor-based Elven hijinks, the big reveal of the mysterious Orc man-God “Arda”, and a Dwarven secret.

The episode also involved a lot of sleeping. My sleeping. I fell asleep twice while trying to watch this. A cure for insomnia is probably not what Amazon was hoping for when they ploughed a billion dollars into this series.

This blog is all about short form reviews. But for this episode, there was no way to fulfil that in this case. There is simply too much to say.

So what was wrong with the weakest episode of Rings of Power to date? Far quicker to say what was right.

THE GOOD

Gimli 2 shows signs of being a genuinely interesting character

The visuals continue to be pretty. The non-CGI goblins/orcs are a welcome return to aesthetic of The Lord of the Rings film series, undoing the awful CGI overdrive of The Hobbit. And Gimli 2, as I am calling him, shows signs of being a genuinely interesting character. There was no sign of Probably-Gandalf, or there was but I was asleep, which is a good thing, and the role of the Zummerzet-by-way-of-Kingston-Jamaica-cum-Dublin sort-of hobbits was mercifully minimised.

THE BAD

Everything else about this episode really is off.

Lack of immersion / Comedy resemblances

Constantly being reminded of British comedians probably isn’t what Amazon was hoping for with its casting decisions.

First of all, I can’t stop thinking about how Galadriel sounds exactly like Kate/Bob from classic British sitcom Blackadder II. And speaking of comedians, I talked in my Episode 1/2 review about how Fat Hobbit looks exactly like Dawn French, thereby reminding me of the wonderful French and Saunders Lord of the Rings spoof, and how Celebrimbor, the greatest Elven smith of all, bears an uncanny resemblance to Monty Python‘s Michael Palin. Constantly being reminded of British comedians probably isn’t what Amazon was hoping for with its casting decisions. To make it worse, Isildur — who is going to be a big donny in this show if they follow Tolkien’s mythos — looks just like James Callis who played Gaius Baltar in Battle Star: Galactica (2004). This might be ironic as the mythos suggests Isildur may follow Baltar’s plot path, in a manner.

Anyway, that I’m constantly finding myself dropping out of the hoped-for immersion and thinking about such things really shows that this show is not holding my attention. But if I doubted as much myself, falling asleep definitely proved the point.

Characters without any character

the writers … fulfil the age-old writing adage of “tell not show”…

Speaking of Gaius Baltar, I mean Isildur. He has a weird kind of bromance with his two BFFs. But in this episode they fall out, bigly. It’s supposed to be a huge dramatic moment in the episode. But I didn’t care. Why? Because I forgot the other two guys existed. I can’t even remember what their names are, who they are, what they even do, and the who I do remember, Isildur himself, just seems like a moody little twonk. Good job the writers were there to fulfil the age-old writing adage of “Tell not show” with some phenomenal exposition: “You got me kicked out of the navy. All I ever wanted was to be in the navy”*. Rule of writing for the “writers” of this show: big dramatic moment for Character A isn’t big dramatic moment if Character A isn’t a character. Even with a swell of music.

*(This is a paraphrasing. This episode was truly too awful to go back and catch the actual line. Suffice it to say, it was even more moronic than what I have written)

Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power S1E4 Review “The Great Wave”‘. Wow, that’s a blog post title almost as long as the cast list of the aforesaid show. “Let’s have a whole bunch of characters / NPCs and make this show EPIC!” was surely what went on in the writers’ room. Apparently, according to showrunners J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay you can never have too much of a good thing. Nor of a bad thing. Speaking of which…

There’s a weird Monty Pythonesque vibe to Bloke-whose-name-we-don’t-know-nor-care-to-know who fancies Girl-who-I-think-is-the-daughter-of-the-guy, the one with the brother who’s on the boat. That one. Her. Weird, almost sitcom-ish stuff.

When Legolas 2 (as I’m calling him) copies Gimli 2’s (as I’m calling him) kids’ knocking game and opens up a secret chamber containing a priceless ore, my jaw-dropped — at the absurdity of it all. This segues nicely into…

Tonal shifts

…two thousand year old teenager Galadriel

Reviews slating Episodes 1 and 2 bemoaned strange and inappropriate tonal shifts between high drama and low comedy, a shifting of genres. I didn’t see that myself. But with this episode, I finally agree. Strange comedy moments that don’t gel with the overall vibe abound. Another major culprit is defiant two thousand year old teenager Galadriel. Nothing about her makes sense, and she seems to be in an alternate teen version of this show from a different universe.

Galadriel’s behaviour with the Queen Regent of Númenor, in particular, was totally unbelievable, and this show has got Goblins in it. More sitcommery interspliced into what is presumably intended to be a weighty epic. The parallels to Game of Thrones, given the GoT spin-off is going head-to-head with RoP, cannot be avoided. So imagine, if you may, the Red Wedding, followed by Galdariel’s hilaaaaaaaaaarious petulant attitude that winds her up in prison, comedy directoral cut included. Inappropriate tonal shifts.

Gimmicks

… Legolas 2 … Gimli 2 … Aragorn 2 … Probably-Gandalf …

Asides from being a kind-of woke rip-off of The Lord of the Rings — complete with Legolas 2, Gimli 2, troll fight, the Dark Lord’s comin’ ta getcha, Big Statue, Aragorn 2, Frodo-Sam-Merri-Pippin Hobbit mash-up characters, Probably-Gandalf — the show is also guilty of other gimmicks. My favourite is directorial.

The directorial trick of stuff spraying against the camera lens is being overdone. Remember that shot from Children of Men, that crazy long shot, where half way through the lens got sprayed? They had no choice but to carry on, as the shot was so long and complicated that they would have lost everything if they’d tried to go back. But that bit of splatter made the scene all the more graphic and disturbing. In LOTR:ROP their overuse of this trick — once per episode — is drawing attention to itself in a rather uncouth way.

No tension. Simple as.

showing us Sauron so soon…. giving us the money shot from a flaccid chub.

They show Adar’s face, the man who we presume is Sauron. Isn’t that a no-no? The fact that he was unseen in The Lord of the Rings made him scary all the way through. In the original Alien, you hardly see the alien, just snatches, and it makes it all the more horrific. And we all remember seeing Mr Blonde cutting off Marvin’s ear in Reservoir Dogs. Oh wait, no we don’t, it happened off-screen, yet that made it all the more graphic — indeed, many people, in a straight Mandela Effect twist, “remember” seeing it happen, such was the effectiveness of that non-show. So why have they blown it by showing us (probably) Sauron so soon? Giving us the money shot from a flaccid chub. Even if Adar isn’t Sauron, just as Probably-Gandalf may not actually be Gandalf, why is a main baddy being robbed of his shadowy nature this early?

The biggest problem with the show so far, and it was particularly highlighted in this episode, is we just don’t care. Sure, we know we have to stop Sauron because he’s evil, he won’t stop so we’ve got to stop him, or whatever. But there’s just not enough to care about. Galadriel, who could have gone to the western lands where she’ll never die, who is an elf and lives thousands of years, is talking to the leader of an a realm of humans that is an island kingdom way over the seas and totally isolated and safe, that these men and the elves need to join forces again to fight Sauron to stop the people of the Southlands, which is a human realm very, very far away, who I think joined with Morgoth — Sauron’s own lord — to fight against good, from being conquered… I mean, read that sentence back. Who cares? Where is the drama? What is the point? I’m enjoying the beautiful visuals, but whatever. In LOTR, Sauron was coming, he was coming for you, and it felt immediate, it affected everyone. But here, his coming is so distant, so far-off, so irrelevant to everyone else, that it’s hard to be bothered.

IN SUMMARY…

Bored of the Rings? Yes.

2/5

Stargate SG1 Reboot? #StarGate #StarGateReboot

STARGATE REBOOT!!!

Are you a Star Trek or a Star Wars fan? Me, I always say Trek. And it’s true. But actually, my favourite Star of all is, and I am kind of embarrassed to say it: Gate. Yes, Stargate is my favourite Sci-fi franchise.

What I crave, in these imagination-blanched days of reboots, is a STARGATE REBOOT!!!

The concept: the Stargate franchise as it is, is in the old, pre-Battlestar Galactica reboot days. Twenty plus episodes, many filler eps, no real driving episode-to-episode narrative. So let’s modernise it and make it fit current TV norms.

  • Darker tone.
  • 10 episodes a season.
  • One continuous narrative throughout.
  • Reboot in an alternative universe style, so we don’t even need the same characters (but we can keep them if we want).
  • Keep it to the original Egyptian + Sumerian/Babylonian (c.3000BC) mythologies. Forget all this Greek and Norse rubbish that they used to pad the shows out with.

Here are some season idea outlines. This may not make any sense to you if you’re not a fan of the TV shows or the film.

Season 1: mostly follows the original 1994 StargÅte film. They discover the gate, try to crack the code, travel to Abydos, hide out, get in trouble, they make Ra leave Abydos (not destroyed as in the film?), “Tealc”-type character introduced in this season which happens in Episode 1 of Stargate: SG1 the series. Basically, series one is the discovery of the gate and the struggle against and removal of Ra from Abydos.

Season 2: where SG1 starts but darker. Abydos in chaos as they can’t rule themselves, politically dark, Ra going to return, many people want him, Abydonians realise the gate can take them to other worlds and how to do it, earth starts to lose interest in Abydos, team kills Ra. In short: The Return of Ra.

Season 3: fall out on earth of destroying Ra and disobeying orders, politics, another system lord (but not “Apophis”) takes over Abydos, we hear invasion launched against earth, desperately search worlds for weapons and technology or allies to fight goa’uld, by end of season ships enter our solar system. In short: the Empire Strikes Back

Season 4: Not sure. But I reckon: we destroy Goa’uld ship, suspiciously easily; actually, Goa’uld ship was a ruse to distract as goa’uld symbiotes are landed on earth and a facility is set up on earth secretly so the goa’uld can take over several world leaders and government to act as a fifth column to pave way for actual invasion. Perhaps this becomes clear by last episode. In short: The First Wave.

Season 5: … you probably have given up reading this by now, so I’ll call this fangasm to an end.

© 2020-2022 Bryan A. J. Parry

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