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128: Is ‘The Rings of Power’ Worth Your Time, Precious?

September 20, 2022
Notes
Transcript
On this week’s episode, Sonny Bunch (The Bulwark), Alyssa Rosenberg (The Washington Post), and Peter Suderman (Reason) discuss Woody Allen’s not-quite-retirement announcement. Or “announcement.” What are we to do with his body of work? And then we discuss the hit series Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Is Middle Earth worth revisiting? Make sure to swing by Bulwark+ on Friday for a special bonus episode comparing and contrasting The Rings of Power with another fantasy prequel: House of the Dragon. And if you enjoyed this episode, share it with a friend! Our most loyal listeners are our best evangelists. 
This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:11

    Welcome back to across the movie. I will present it by Bulwark Plus. I am your host, Sunny Bunch Culture Editor of The Bulwark. I’m joined, as always, Bayless Rosenberg of The WASH Post Peter Saruman of Reason magazine. Alyssa Peter, how are you today?
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:22

    I’m swell.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:23

    I am happy to be talking about movies with friends.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:26

    First stop in controversies and controversies. Woody Allen is retiring. Maybe, yeah, we’ll see. First, he has to finish up the movie that is shooting in Paris, and then he says he’s may be done. My idea in principle is not to make more movies and focus on writing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:40

    He supposedly told the Spanish newspaper. According to translation and people, And who knows what that sort of telephone game actually means? His rep actually rejected the report. He said, no. No.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:49

    And Woody’s gonna keep making movies forever. He’s gonna make movies until he’s dead and in the and you’re all dead and in the ground. So don’t talk about his retirement yet. Whether or not he’s able to keep making movies is a trickier question. That’s an open question.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:03

    Because Alan has worked outside of the Hollywood system for years. Now he gets most of his funding from Europe. But that funding is contingent on him getting stars of a caliber that can open movies overseas. And attract audiences. And with stars finding him too toxic to work for in light of allegations by Dylan Farrell that he sexually abused her, which she was seven.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:21

    It’s harder and harder to attract that kind of attention and that kind of talent and that kind of money. It’s just difficult Also hard, any discussion online about Woody Allen? It seems fairly obvious to me that it is utterly reasonable to say the following about Woody Allen. Regardless of the allegations made against him, he made some of the great films of the nineteen seventies and nineteen eighties, including Manhattan and Annie Hall in his collaborations with actors like Diane Keaton and Cinemax like Gordon Willis do not deserve to be tossed onto the ashkeep of history due to unproven accusations of sexual assault. On the other hand, it feels equally obvious to be to say the following about Woody Ellen, it’s fine to not want to revisit his work.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:00

    Given the frequency with which it handles older men having relationships with the younger women, if that squicks you out in light of, you know, not only the accusations of sexual assault, but also the fact that he married his one time girlfriend’s adopted daughter, like, I get that too. Totally reasonable stance, both of these. But it brings me to kind of one of the weirder aspects of modern critical and artistic and audience life, this puritanical urge to kind of a race from existence, anything that might introduce discomfort in the viewer. It’s one thing to say an artist isn’t your cup of tea. And for the record, Woody Allen, never really been my cup of tea.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:31

    I react to his work the way that a lot of Wes Anderson haters react to his. There’s just something visceral that is always kind of put me off about him. I don’t I don’t like him. I don’t like his whole thing, really. But it’s another to deny the plain historical record of his achievements and his accomplishments and like whatever.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:47

    It is what it is. Look, the collaborative nature of filmmaking and his current standing in the world of artists makes it Maybe it just makes it best that he switches to more solitary pursuits like writing. Right, Alyssa?
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:00

    Yeah. For those of you who know Woody Allen only as a director. It’s worth potentially checking out one of his collections, like withoutfeather or is getting even her side effects. Switch art, to my mind, his three best short story collections. He’s actually he is within sort of a certain kind of taste NVIVE and just an extremely funny short story writer.
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:22

    And I actually grew up on a lot of this stuff.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:25

    You
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:25

    know, his writing will be familiar if you’ve watched his movies. Right? I mean, it was always really funny to me when Monette in Paris won best original screenplays since it’s a mash up of two is of his short stories. A Kubermas episode about a sort of lonely guy who ends up sneaking into, like, the plot of Madam Bovary. With the help of a magician and Paris in the twenties, which is a sort of like phony diary of hanging out with Ernest Hemingway as other sort of literary luminaries in Paris in that decade.
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:56

    But he has a sense of humor that is highly specific. Right? And Woody Allen is a highly sort of not just place, but era and sensibility driven director. He, you know, he loves parody. He is, you know, in particular, he is interested in, you know, sort of activism and radicalism gone wrong, which is something you see in a movie like bananas and, you know, short story.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:20

    He wrote about, like, sort of becoming a revolutionary. He, you know, he’s very interested in therapy. The Qumas episode starts in an analyst office he likes detective fiction. My favorite short stories of his is called The Horr of Menza, which is about a private detective, Kysor Lipwood’s tracking down a madam who runs a like basically a Bordello where women provide intellectual experiences to men who are under stimulated by their lives. And so it’s very New York.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:48

    It’s very Jewish. It’s very neurotic. It’s very sort of arch and aware of itself. But it’s it’s really funny and really well executed. And if you want sort of a dispatch of what mid century humor writing was like, you know, what of these books will take you.
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:04

    You know, two hours in the afternoon to read. You can buy them used, so you don’t even have to give money to weigh Ellen directly. And, you know, if he wants to keep doing that, that’s fine. That said, I mean, Ellen has been repeating the same script themes and preoccupations and tones for decades now. And, you know, he may go off and write more short stories, and maybe there will be, you know, the occasional late career gem that pops up.
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:30

    But, you know, if Woody Allen stops making movies, it might also be because he sort of run out of things to say, and I think that would probably be true of his writing as well.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:38

    Peter, what do you make of all the the hubbub about because the thing that jumps out again, it it’s never the thing. It’s the reaction to the thing that is most interesting to me. And the to this thing is that we’re gonna be dealing with this same sort of reaction probably every couple years until he actually dies, which is which is you know, like I a fairly Macobb and morbid thought, but, like, I’m I’m just preparing to have this argument about Woody Allen. Every eighteen months or so for a while.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:06

    Good luck with that. It seems like of fun and exciting life you’re living.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:12

    This is the world in which we live, Peter.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:15

    So the world in which I live my reaction was, what are you on still making movies? Because even though there are quite a few Woody Allen films that I’m a big fan of, he makes he he has, like, an incredibly just sort of dense filmography. And I’ve seen, I don’t know, a dozen of his films, which is a lot. There are many filmmakers who I would say that are, like, I’m I’m a really big fan of it. Then where I’ve where I’ve seen fewer than ten of their films because they’ve only made eight in twenty or thirty years of working.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:48

    Whereas Woody Allen has made, I don’t
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:50

    know, forty fifty, sixty. He’s gonna be about fifty movies. Yeah. This is his fifth he is currently working on his fiftieth
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:57

    movie. Fifty movies. And I don’t know that I have seen one in the last ten years or so. I think the last one I saw was probably midnight in Paris. Maybe I saw blue Jasmine, but honestly, if I did, I have no memory.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:11

    Like I like I remember the title, and I and not anything else with this. And this is this is the sort of thing is that either strikes me is Woody Allen is making movies for a relatively small and select audience at this point. And that that audience has decided that they wanna keep watching his stuff totally independent of whatever else you think of of Woody Ellen and his personal life or and and and all of that. And it seems like he has he has found I mean, he’s not the sort of big movie making star that he used to be. At the same time, in some ways, who is, especially people who sort of work at his level.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:51

    Right? Sure. There’s someone like Steven Spielberg or somebody who has, you know, started making movies around the same time and is obviously a a giant in the industry. But for someone who wants to make relatively small, relatively intimate films that are essentially realistic sometimes with elements of of you know, magical realism, but essentially realistic movies about adults. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:15

    Like talking to each other, that’s what Woody Ellen does. It’s the thing that nobody read. It’s the kind of it’s the, you know, sort of near canonical movie you can’t they don’t make them like this anymore. Movies, but he’s still making them. He’s trying a way to do that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:28

    And it seems like he should keep doing that for as long as it keeps interesting him. I just sort of wonder, like, we’re we’re kind of in an a weird age right now where filmmakers who are well into their eighties keep working. And this is a pretty new thing. This wasn’t true, you know, when we were growing up, when in the nineteen eighties or nineteen nineties. There were very few people, you pass the age of eighty, who are still making films, not much else making films regularly, but Clinique would just made one at ninety something.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:00

    You know, Ridley Scott is, I don’t know, eighty two eighty three and is prepping like a giant budget movie of some sort right now. And, you know, Steven Spielberg has another one coming out this year. I don’t he’s he’s seventy five. Scorsese is seventy nine. This this is I think something that, again, just sort of, let’s table all of the arguments that you inevitably have to have about about Woody Allen or or whatever.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:25

    But this is actually this is something that is It’s not just new. I think it is it’s interesting and unique in that it is providing us a kind of a window into artistic creation later in life and, frankly, towards the end of life is even someone who, you know, is is quite spry like Clinise wood. We don’t expect them to live that much longer. Like, I you’re just like just human lifespans being what they are. It’s a kind of diversity in film they that we haven’t had before, and it is offering us a for a kind of perspective on what it is like to age and to grow old and to continue to be mentally sort of, you know, focused on your work and on storytelling in a mass you know, in something that remains some very close to a popular art form even if Woody Allen’s movies like, I I had to look at his Wikipedia page before we, you know, pulled this up.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:19

    To find out even what his last couple of movies are. I don’t know that I could tell you a single thing like I’ve never even seen a trailer for Rifkin’s festival or a rainy day in New York. But at at the same time, he’s leaving a record of what it’s like to be eighty something and still making movies. And so it was Queen Eastwood and And this is the this is, I think, the the part of it that that attracts me most and that most intrigues me is that is that’s really unusual. Even even novelists.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:46

    Right? Even sort of fiction writers have have tended to kind of stop working in their seventies. And not always, not always, but also
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:54

    So
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:54

    broth, Garcia Marquez. I don’t know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:56

    Yeah. We I I wanna I wanna drill down on this for a second because it is an interesting point. I mean, on the one hand, there is creative exhaustion, and I do feel like there is a certain I agree with Alyssa that Woody Allen feels kind of creatively exhausted. I mean, like, making a movie where, you know, Timothy Charlemagne is your stand in character as as Woody Allen is maybe I don’t know, a bit a bit much as as happened not too long ago. But that said, I mean, like Martin Scorsese, he he makes the Irishman, which is very much a movie about aging and and loss and what comes along with that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:31

    Or, you know, a lot of a lot of Eastwood’s worked since unforgiveness really. I mean, movies like, Grantarino, and the Mule. And well, this is most
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:42

    famous — Which — — which — — which — — which — — which — — which
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:43

    — — which — —
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:44

    watched last year and which is, you know, minor work in a lot of ways, but still a lot better than a lot of the features that we end up watching.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:52

    Mean, it’s it’s interesting stuff. Right? A write a list. I mean, that that is like an interestingly diverse viewpoint that we don’t get a ton of.
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:58

    Yeah. I mean, if I can say the obligatory thing, all of these are men. And, you know, Hollywood has been uniquely uninterested in the experience of older women in general Right? I mean, the exception I mean, I guess, like Nancy Myers accounts, although I’d have to check how old she is. Jane Campion is sixty eight, I think.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:15

    Blair Denny. Who is seventy six. Right? The the reason it’s rare is the biggest reason is that there weren’t that there were even fewer female filmmakers in the nineteen seventies to, you know, be making movies in their thirties to and then be able to have a fifty year career.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:32

    Yeah. I mean, that’s also true, but it’s also true that Hollywood is just not that interested in older women in a way that it’s interested in old men. Right? I mean, you’re, like, you’re never gonna get the godmother trilogy. Like, that’s that’s not in, you know, the Hollywood of the nineteen seventies.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:48

    And that’s I think
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:49

    that’s true, but it’s somewhat less true now than it was
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:53

    forty
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:54

    years ago.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:54

    I bet Sofia Coppola is making movies when she’s you know, if movies still exist in forty years when she is eighty.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:01

    Her TikToks are gonna be
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:02

    great.
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:02

    I will be super interested to see Sofia Coppola, especially if she finds like her whoever her, like, female Bill Murray equivalent is. Right? Like, that’ll be really fascinating to watch. But even, you know, that’s a case where she’s often making or at least sometimes making movies about him. Like, I’ll be really curious to see what Katherine Bigolo is doing when she’s seventy, which is not, oh, basically enough, not that far off.
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:27

    Although she’s made so few movies, like, it will be, you know, there there will just be fewer data points there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:36

    She’s seventy now. I mean, it’s, you know
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:38

    Yeah. Maybe maybe we’ll see kind of what kind of movies a little while just making when she said when she’s seventy. And what sort of crazed gossip storms accompanied them.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:46

    I think it’s time for point break too.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:49

    No. Don’t don’t will that into existence. That’s that’s a cursed idea.
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:53

    Yeah. Go burn the monkeys bar in your fireplace. Okay? No. Let’s not do that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:57

    But yeah. No. I mean, look, I think age is interesting. I think, you know, older people are, you know, still very important moviegoers an important segment of our society. And, yeah, I mean, I think that’s a kind of diversity that doesn’t get as much credit you know, doesn’t get much as much attention as an issue.
  • Speaker 3
    0:14:16

    There’s some discussion of ageism particularly for women, but there is less just like this is a movie in which the character is older. This is a movie in which being oldest sort of part of the story, but there are other things that work too. I’m
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:29

    always just impressed that anybody over the age of seventy can manage it can can do the job at all and get it done because working on a film set is just it’s long hours and it’s difficult and you’re on your feet and you’re making constant constant decisions you’ve got a or you’ve got resource issues, you’ve got rain delays if you’re shooting outside. Just stuff that is getting in your way all the time to design and to make you exhaust it in irritable, right, that that’s the process. And the fact that anybody can just sort of can get through it and not be like, ugh, I’m just giving up is is always very impressive to me. I also think it’s important for older filmmakers to be making to be making popular or adjacent to popular art in a world where our leadership class is getting a lot older. And this is, you know, it the two things are happening at the same time, I think, for similar reasons.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:23

    Right? If you look at the age the average age of a member of congress or the senate, the ages of the last two presidential candidates etcetera, etcetera, it is it’s notable sort of how how how many sort of older, like, considerably older years, we end up having sort of in prominent positions in American life, and that includes in the movies as well. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:47

    Fun fact, James Cameron is sixty eight, which means that by the time Avatar three comes out. He’ll be eighty five. I don’t know what the what what that’s gonna look like. So we’ll see we’ll see how that goes. So what do we think?
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:59

    Is it a controversy or a controversy that Woody Allen can’t make movies anymore? We don’t think or maybe he can. I don’t know. Who who’s to say? Peter,
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:10

    I think it’s a controversy that we don’t even know what we’re contraversing or non traversing on?
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:15

    Yeah. I don’t know, Alyssa.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:17

    It’s a controversy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:19

    I think it’s probably I think it’s a mild controversy just in the sense that, you know, everything involving Woody Allen doesn’t wind up being a controversy somehow, but it’s probably a controversy if he decides to stick to writing books for now on that I can safely ignore. That would be that would be great. Alright. Make sure to tear in for our bonus episode this Friday in which we will compare and contrast. Fantasy prequels, House of the Dragon and the Rings of Power speaking of which, On the main events, Lord of the Rings, the Rings of Power, Amazon Prime’s Prime Video, billion dollar entry into the streaming TV deaths struggle that we watch play out week after week.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:58

    Set thousands of years before the events of Lord of the Rings, the series nevertheless features many of the characters we met and loved during that series. Thanks to the fact that elves are ageless or at least, you know, they age really slowly, I guess. I don’t really know how elf biology works. I mean, Elrond in this show looks like he’s doogie Houser. He’s like elf doogie Houser.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:18

    And Galadriel is obviously not yet to Cape Blanchett you get the idea here. This is the age of elves in Middle Earth as they have traveled to the mortal shores to take on the evil of the dark lord Morgoth? Think it’s his name.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:32

    Yeah. He has got
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:33

    named
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:33

    Morgoth after he becomes evil.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:36

    Oh, so he you see, I don’t know any of this. So I’ll I’ll let Elizabeth The guy this guy, he’s been defeated, I guess, but Sauron remains maybe. I don’t know who’s to say. That’s what Gladriel seems to think. But the rest of the elves very skeptical evil has been defeated.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:51

    Go home. We don’t need you here anymore. You’re gonna rile up the evil and bring it back. That’s what they tell her. A spoiler, she’s right.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:58

    The works are back baby and they’re just eating people everywhere. Meanwhile, Hobbits are migrating and Dwarves are mining. It’s middle earth. Just, you know, thousands of years before the last time we saw Middle earth. The rings of power feels a little bit like an extended exercise in recognizing things like Numenor.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:13

    I’ve heard of that. Oh, a Civilor in Elendil. I sure those names sound familiar to me. This is where MythREAL comes from. Great to know, Durin.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:22

    What a silly dwarf. He is that I have heard tales of. There are many things I recognize. Look at them all. And it occasionally feels like it’s really straining very hard for social relevance.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:33

    Which leads to a lot of shoe hoarding of ideas. And, like, for instance, in the fourth episode, the men of Numenor have basically a maga rally in their Agara and they’re, like, worried about the elves showing up and taking all their jobs and their women and the such. And they’re, you know, it’s, like, clearly intended to echo fears about immigration in the United States. But like, meanwhile, over in the rest of Middle earth, the elves are like literally an occupying military force who were policing the men who at one time partnered with the Dark Lord. To fight against the elves.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:02

    So you’re in
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:03

    favor of what I’m getting at. Thank you. And I and like it’s there’s also like this weird exploitative gleam in Elrond’s eye when he first spots at Mythril, he’s like, oh, a new place to colonize I see. So I don’t know. All of which say is that the message here is very muddled.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:20

    I don’t quite I don’t think that they quite have full control of what they’re what they’re going for here. And that’s one reason why it’s always best just to, like, leave hot button political topics like immigration or maggot rallies outside of the thousands year old setting of middle earth. Right? Just stick to the big topic ideas like industrialization or totalitarianism. That’s that’s a little bit better.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:43

    The first couple of episodes were a bit of a slog for me. I’m not gonna lie. Things picked up once that one elf got captured by the orcs and you tried to organize prison escape. And then by the close of the fourth episode, the men of Numenor were like, we will go fight. And I was like, oh, I like this now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:59

    I don’t know. I don’t know. Despite the fact that that one elf black eye. Oh, no. And glad real tonal Mary Sue just beating all sorts of guards and fight.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:07

    I’m being very sarcastic here. I wanna be very clear that I’m being sarcastic because the dumbness of some of the conversations around this show have like essentially made me want to avoid it entirely. Just the arguments about, oh, we can’t have black hobbits. We can’t have black dwarves. No, we can’t do any of that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:22

    Like, it’s fucking fantasy world people just get over yourselves. And we could talk we could talk more about whether or not this is a big hit that Prime Video needs. Some people seem to think it is. Other people were skeptical. Fight or no?
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:33

    More important question for our purposes. Through the first half of the first season, is it any good, Peter? It’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:42

    Maybe kind of okay. Wow. Ringing endorsement. It just hasn’t sold itself to me yet. And the first episode in particular, you called it a slog.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:53

    It felt to me like the most exquisite Wikipedia entry I’ve ever seen visualized, just genuinely astoundingly good looking show. But absolutely nothing. To bring me in or make me care about any of the characters or any of the storylines. And by episode four, it has gotten somewhat better. They’ve actually drilled down on some of the locations.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:14

    And some of the scenarios and sort of some of the the the kind of the conflicts at those locations between the the different characters. But the fact that it took four episodes to deliver any of that is not a super promising sign. These folks do not, like the creators here, do not seem to understand what their story is. And they seem really kind of anxious about disappointing hardcore Lord of the Rings fans, hence all of the noticing and recognizing naming stuff that you’ve heard of before, but also the fact that the first episode was just this really tedious kind of exploratory background dump on the world and the conflicts and and all of the stuff they were setting up. And even later, in the this you know, as the series has progressed, it has gotten Like I said, somewhat better.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:03

    They can’t stick they don’t seem to be able to stick with a single narrative line long enough to make me care about it. None of the like, they’re just topping and hopping between the different places and plot lines and And as a result, it just sort of feels like a summary of what’s happening rather than an actual you know, like, showing me who these people are and the worlds they live in. And I think this show would have been much better if they’d started with some of the story from episode two about the the tall guy falling from the stars. We we assume this is Gandolf. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:36

    Like, maybe, I don’t know, about the the the star person falling. God,
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:41

    I’m
  • Speaker 3
    0:22:41

    just gonna reveal what a complete nerd I am. But theoretically so Gandalf is, like, part of a sort of they’re sort of like angels called the Maya and theoretically they’re not actually sent there until a later age. So it could be gandalf. It could be another one of the Maya, like Radagast, the Brown. Oh,
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:06

    yeah. Radagast,
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:07

    Saruman. Could be Saruman. It would be just like a big it
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:12

    would be a an interesting sort of condensation of the timeline of its scandal. I’m just gonna go throw myself into see now because I’ve so thoroughly embarrassed myself.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:20

    My
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:20

    lord of the Rings fans were all fan friends who are like, I have some of my college friends are super, super hardcore people who have read the Silmarillion like fifty times and know all of the lore and they were mad because they this show appears that what they said and I don’t know about this because I’m not a Lord of the Rings like Super Geek. But what they said was that the show was doing a lot of timeline condensation and just sort of putting a bunch of stuff that didn’t happen together. And whatever, I get that that’s I get the that approach.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:54

    Wait. Can I can I actually interact here for just for a second? Because I I my big problem with this is I have no idea when any of this is, like, taking place in relation to like, I I for some reason, I kind of assumed it was like three or four hundred years maybe before the the events of the movies. And apparently, thousands. We’re talking about, like, thousands of years here.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:16

    I am, like, I just like I don’t I none of this makes any sense to me. I am not I am totally kind of lost there. But also, I don’t care.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:26

    Yeah. Then you don’t care because all of these characters are sketches at best. And there are so few little human moments. Whereas if you recall the Peter Jackson movie, and the few bits of the, you know, the the novels that I’ve read. They’re just apps like, the movie, the Peter Jackson or the original trilogy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:49

    I don’t I hate the Hobbit. Trailogy, but the original Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings trilogy just does such a great job of bringing you into the world and showing all of these fantasy archetypes not as fantasy archetypes or as, you know, chess pieces that need to be moved around a board in order to set up a conflict. But showing them as like quirky idiosyncratic little people. And if you remember the first the first of those movies, it starts with like a ten minute exposition scene about know, here are the rings and here’s the battle against Saruman. And then it takes you to the shire.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:20

    And it’s just like a day in the shire and it takes almost an hour before anything really starts to happen. They have a party, and there’s fireworks, and everybody starts to do some, like, little hobot hijinks and a wizard arrives and says wizardy things. But there’s not a lot of action. There’s not a lot of even, you know, really serious conflict. There’s just the establishment of these characters in their world and what they are like and it’s intimate and, you know, I don’t know, human is maybe not quite the right word for non human characters, but it’s kind of human and humane.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:54

    And the movie, even in the short time, you know, it’s a a two and a half hour movie as I think the first one be or two hours and forty five minutes before you get to the director’s cut. But even in that relatively short time compared to the eight plus hours of TV that we’re getting. The movie just does a much better job of establishing its characters and what they are like. What kinds of decisions they make? They are characters that exist off screen.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:21

    This is always my test. Can you imagine them in a in a scenario that isn’t that isn’t one of the scenes from this film, and you know exactly what they would do. And you do. You know every one of those characters, you know what they would do. And I can’t even remember these characters names, much less, have a sense of who they are in, you know, who they were before we met them and who they would be in scenes that we’re not seeing in the show.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:44

    Yeah. Alyssa, what do you what do you make of all this?
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:46

    Yeah. I was gonna see something similar. I mean, I think there are sort of two scenes that have really worked well on this for me. And the first is where Duran explains why he’s pissed at Elrond. Right?
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:58

    And it’s like, you miss my wedding. Like, you miss the birth of my kids. You are just like gallavanting along in your bullshit, elf time, just assuming that everyone lived forever and like you missed my life and we were friends. And then the scene where Elrond is, like, hanging around Duran’s apartment, and his wife is just, like, lying to him about where Durn is and what he’s up to and she’s like, I’m making stew. He’s in these minds.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:24

    Like, those are the only scenes where these feel like human beings who or they feel like sentient beings who have relationships to each other. Right? And, like, have actual emotions that stake. And, you know, we’re anxious about things. And we’ve get we’ve gotten, like, a little bit of that elsewhere, like, in the scene with the harfets where they remember the people who were left behind.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:46

    Right? And there’s this, like, sort of, dark little undercurrent, like, they straight up abandoned people who
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:51

    I mean, like, literally left behind. Like, that that whole sequence. I was like, wait. You mean, literally a bit. Oh, wait.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:57

    No. We see them being like, they’re gonna leave more people behind.
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:01

    Yeah. Exactly. It’s like, it’s it’s super dark, but like that moment of remembering, it’s like, they’re these are people with sort of extreme extraneous lives off screen. And yeah, it’s I mean, I have to admit a conflict of interest on the show since one of the two show runners is one of my fraternity brothers from back end of the day. Hey, JD.
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:20

    But, yeah, I mean, this just it it is so expensive and I do think it looks great. Right? Like, it you can see for the like, I think you can, for the most part, really see a lot of money that they spent on green. But but it just never relaxes at all. It doesn’t breathe.
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:37

    Right? And, like, for I mean, I saw I I don’t know if it was James Ponowazic or someone else who compared Galadriel to Keri Mathiesen, the the, like, obsessed lead character in from the late TV show homeland. But she’s like, Carrie Mavison, but, like, even less interesting. Right? Like, She’s totally camera less.
  • Speaker 3
    0:29:00

    Like, she doesn’t even have, like, a weird sex life. You know, she is, like, she’s just the mission. And she should like, there should be, you know, like, Kate Blanchett’s performance as Galadriel is, like, warm and funny in a lot of ways. Like the moment when she is tempted by the power of the one ring is frightening in part because she becomes like totally remote and removed and godlike. And then, you know, it makes sense when she’s relieved, when she’s able to resist the power of the ring.
  • Speaker 3
    0:29:34

    But you know, Morfit Clark is like she’s doing her best to, like, promote, you know, to represent this sort of regal badassery, but She doesn’t make colliderial interesting or engaging in any way. And it’s a problem for the show. Right? Like, she’s the main character and she’s just like, she’s a pill.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:57

    Yeah. I I have I have a lot of I I first of all, I have to strongly disagree with that this is show that looks great in a certain regard. Like, the the costume design looks great. A lot of the set design like, when you when they’re when they’re on an actual set. That stuff looks good.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:12

    But it also has some of the worst green screen stuff I’ve seen in a long time. And I noticed the other day and we’re maybe we’ll talk a little bit a bit more about this in the bonus episode. I wanna talk a lot about House of the Dragon here. But I noticed on House of the Dragon that all of the ship scenes, when there were a bunch of ship scenes this week, all had terrible awful green screen. And all of the ship scene.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:31

    Everything on a ship in this in this show also has terrible green screens. I think we need a new rule in addition to the Samaritan based no more fires not gonna actually burn down a building, a rule. No more ships unless you’re gonna build a ship and go out on the sea. That’s it. That’s that’s it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:48

    These green screen chips are not working. They’re not working for anyone. You gotta stop it. So I don’t I didn’t I didn’t love that. But I think you’re totally right about Gladriel and orphan Clark, and I I just like there’s a she she it just it the the the whole performance does not really work.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:06

    I have another I have another question I mean, not even really a question, just a complaint. Like, I don’t understand I don’t understand the powers of the elves. Like like on the one hand, the elves are like, you know, like light on their feet and they’re dance around. They’re doing all he’s like grabbing arrows out of the sky. And the other and, like, the next minute, he can’t, like, hit a chain and break it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:27

    I I think there’s a think there’s a there’s a lot of like weird plot necessitating, you know, or like the scene where Elrond gives up cracking the crack in the rocks. He’s like, I can’t do it anymore. I’m too tired. And I’m like, no. The elves can do this shit for weeks.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:43

    She glad real, like, swam across a whole ocean. Come on. What is what is Stop being Stop messing with me?
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:50

    It’s like inverse plot armor.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:52

    Yeah. Exactly. No. It’s like plot it’s like it’s like plot weakness. It’s like in invented plot weakness as needed.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:59

    I don’t know. I I I actually kind of I’m enjoying the show more than I certainly was over the first two episodes, the third and fourth of, like, given me something something like tangible to hold on to. There’s actual conflict now. There’s conflict between the orcs and the the man and the the elves and every like, I I need more. I need more of that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:21

    And characters who have clearly defined goals if not clearly defined and distinctive personalities. I would say that the reason I I won’t give up on the show completely besides the fact that it it really does look pretty great is that if the trajectory in, like, terms of of getting better between episode four and episode eight is as significant as the as the the difference between episode one and episode for, the show could become pretty good and maybe even very good. Because the fourth episode, while I still don’t think it rises to the level of me really being invested in it already. The fourth episode is hugely better than the first episode. The second episode is somewhat better than the first episode.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:06

    The third episode is somewhat better than the second. Right? Each episode has gotten successfully better. And if they can manage to do that over the course of all eight episodes, and I guess this has already been greenlit for a definite season two and you presume for more seasons beyond that. If they can manage to sort of to raise the bar each time, I am willing to forgive, you know, a messy opening with an admittedly difficult property to adapt and a challenge to not only to sort of make something that works and is is popular, but the respects the source material and, like, doesn’t doesn’t, you know, sort of, doesn’t mess up.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:42

    Right? Like the the the a two hundred and fifty million dollar IP bobble that Jeff Bezos bought to have developed. It’s
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:48

    also look, it’s just really hard to manage shows with huge cast. Right? And if you think about what worked with, like, the original Lord of the Rings trilogy and also with Game of Thrones, You started with, like, sort of, a discrete event that brought together some core characters, and then you sent them on your way and you added people along their journeys, but you always had a hook in somebody who you’d met right at the beginning. Right? I mean Game of Thrones eventually sort of moves beyond that forecast in part because, like, some of that casket, that perspectival caskets killed off and replaced with other people.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:22

    But, you know, it did it sort of slowly. And here you’re starting in all of these disparate locations and like sort of jumping around between them and trying to build, like, an emotional connection that you don’t have from the beginning with all the characters. And Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:38

    And this this is why I thought that the that the episode should have been rather than jumping between characters every single episode. Really felt like they would have been better to to do less, like do more with one small subplot per episode, especially in the first four or so. And and build them all together and, like, maybe we don’t meet the elves at all until, you know, episode three or
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:59

    Just be all elves. Just elves.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:02

    Do
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:03

    we need the do we really need the hobbits in here? Can we can we get rid of them? Let’s just get rid of that. Can they all be left behind? Care of him.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:11

    That’s what I want. That whole subplot is terrible in boring.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:14

    And, like, cutie in a way that
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:17

    — Yeah. —
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:17

    like,
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:19

    You know,
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:19

    and the habits have always been a little queasy. Right? Like, they’re the English mall folk. Like, industrialization is bad. Industrialization represented by, like, the or and Sauron and Saruman’s, you know.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:30

    We should all just live a gyrine lifestyles. Blah blah blah. But
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:35

    Yeah. Yep. So what do we think? Thumbs up or thumbs down on the rings of power, Peter.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:40

    I have to give it a thumbs down at the moment, but a provisional thumbs down that could change with thumbs up.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:45

    Melissa, I’m
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:46

    giving you a gentle thumbs up because I’m finding it enjoyable, but that may also just be a sign of how tired I am.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:52

    I I may give it a thumbs up because I was I was roused by that last scene in the fourth episode where the tree is weeping all of its leaves. And the men are like, yes, we have to go fight now. The a a show without fighting is a pointless show. Need more fighting.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:08

    I also liked that Galadriel in the Queen Regent clearly staged the whole thing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:13

    I don’t understand. I don’t
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:14

    Don’t you think like they have her leave? The, like, the tree gets all, like, shaky and whatever. And then, like
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:21

    No. That was that was the potent. She was leaving, and the tree was, like, no. You can’t leave. But then how does she know to come back?
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:28

    Well, she’s not gone yet. She’s still, like, on the skiff going out to the main boat. They can send a bigger boat to go get her.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:34

    I guess so. I don’t know. It’s more interesting if you think that they staged it. They
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:37

    sent one of the giant eagles to go and pick her up and bring her back. Yeah.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:40

    You know what the show needs is more giant eagles.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:43

    All shows need more giant eagles. Yeah. Eagles, eagles, and SMEagles. That’s what I say. Alright.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:49

    That is it for this week’s episode. Make sure to check out at m a dot blower dot com for our bonus episode on Friday. Make sure to tell your friend, strong recommendation from a friend is basically the only way to grow podcast answers for November will die. If you did not love today’s episode, please complain to me on Twitter at SunnyBunch. That’s fine.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:04

    I don’t mind getting yelled out on Twitter. I’ll convince you that it is, in fact, the best show in your podcast feed. See you guys next week.
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