Schmitt: High hopes for Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” TV show

Columnist Dawson Schmitt has high hopes for Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” TV show, despite reservations about the company’s desire to please a larger audience.

Dawson Schmitt

Twenty years have passed since J.R.R. Tolkien’s infamous “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy hit the big screen in September 2001, debuting “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Fans who have read the book, delving into Tolkien’s mythology, could become more immersed into the universe, listening to the sounds of the Shire and Rivendell. 

Though many years have passed since movie director Peter Jackson brought the story to life in theaters, Amazon announced in 2017 its plan to bring Tolkien lovers back to Middle Earth to experience events that took place before “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.”

When I first heard the announcement, I had mixed feelings. A part of me was excited to have another chance to dive into the tales of Middle Earth. On the other hand, I was annoyed because many fans, including myself, fear no one could remaster Jackson’s adaptation of the trilogy. Even YouTubers question if the series will be a huge success or a tremendous flop. 

My fears were further realized when Jeff Bezos decided to become more involved with the production planning, requesting that the show has a “Game of Thrones” feel to it, according to Variety

What made Tolkien’s books and the movie adaptations stand out was the lack of sexual content. Very seldom can a person find a popular book, TV show or movie that refrains from containing sexual implications that distract from the story’s plot. I get it, “Game of Thrones” was an enormous success as it encapsulated millions of fans. However, Bezos is far disconnected from fans of the “Lord of the Rings,” where he is willing to sacrifice the story’s integrity. 

If someone were to ask me why the Middle Earth universe lacked sexual content, my simple answer would be because it didn’t need it. Other fans may likely disagree with it, but it would be hard to find a true Tolkien fan say, “Man, I just wish the characters could be a little more risqué.”

It is a fear that even despite Amazon’s $465 million budget dump, the quest to please a broader audience would cause the series to faceplant. 

I am not abandoning hopes for the new TV show, as reports of composer Howard Shore, the writer of the music that brought “The Lord of the Rings” to life, might join Amazon’s production to recreate the sounds of Middle Earth. 

There are multiple reports of Amazon looking to add more diversity to the set, allowing fans from more backgrounds to acclimate themselves with the show, not to mention the possibility of Tom Bombadil, a legendary character in the first book of the Lord of the Rings, to finally debut on screen. 

Many fans have high hopes for the series. It has the potential to meet those expectations or offer room for “constructive” criticism from fans. Either way, fans will have the opportunity to immerse themselves once again in Tolkien’s world.