from Amazon The Lord of the Rings drama, power rings, was a flop. Not only was it snubbed almost entirely during awards season, but it turns out that only 37% of people who started the show finished it.
Just under two-thirds of all rings of power viewers stopped watching the show before it ended, missing out on some truly awful narration. The big question I ask myself is of all the viewers who stuck around for all eight episodes, how many watched hate? I ended the show simply because I was seeing it again and because I have a macabre curiosity normally reserved for rubber car wrecks on the side of the highway.
The other big question is simply this: why power rings Shame? At this point, I don’t even think that can be considered my opinion anymore. The vast majority of people who started watching this show have stopped. Some attrition is to be expected around a high-profile show that attracts casual viewers who may not really be interested in fantasy or Tolkien, but the mark of a decent show is the number of viewers who increases by a final. So what happened here?
One theory I’ve read is that power rings was actually written by AI, which is why the story was so weird and the writing so . . . fake? Is this the right word? Much of the dialogue sounded like something a machine would write; not quite the way people talk. The part about why rocks sink and ships don’t sink is one of those “false wise” parts I can imagine being written by an AI. Same with Bronwyn’s speech about fighting the orcs.
power rings relied heavily on wild coincidences – not providence as you’d find in Tolkien’s stories – and those coincidences drove the story forward. Plot devices, like Galadriel jumping into the middle of the ocean and then just fell on a raft with Halbrand (aka Sauron) it’s a plot so stupid it boggles the mind. But that’s the kind of stuff that drove the story into The Rings of Power.
Speaking of characters, a lot of the time this show was populated by very unlikable people who were always in some kind of fabricated conflict with each other. While The Lord of the Rings focused on friendship and camaraderie, rings of power set up ridiculous, never-ending feuds between most of the key characters. Galadriel was always in some kind of fight with everyone she met, but pretty much every character too. Isildur and Elendil spent most of their time arguing. Same with Durin and Durin (Duran Duran’s cover band!) or Gil Galad and Galadriel.
Finally, the show relied on ridiculous events for most of its drama. The volcano rising to form Mordor should have been cool, but it relied on a stupid Rube Goldberg machine breaking through a dam and flooding a bunch of newly dug tunnels that made no sense. The big battle with the orcs and the villagers was complete nonsense and it was crowned by the arrival of the Númenorean cavalry just in time (more coincidence).
The slightest scrutiny revealed that every storyline, from the mangled mithril conflict between elves and dwarves to the entire “King of the Southlands” charade, was utter nonsense and riddled with plot holes. $450 million somehow couldn’t afford even the most basic quality control of the scripts.
All of that and I haven’t even mentioned the fidelity to the source material, which the show had exactly none of. There wasn’t even a hint of Tolkien in this mess, either in terms of the spirit and themes of his stories, or in terms of basic adherence to detail. The rings of power the showrunners, in their arrogance, decided they knew better than Tolkien when it came to the timeline of the Second Age, and so they condensed thousands of years into a few months. Maybe with better writing elsewhere it could have worked, but it ended up feeling like it was all rushed. All bad fast travel habits from the end Game Of Thrones were there from the start.
And then, of course, there were the Harfoots and their amnesiac wizard pal who contributed nothing more than an elaborate fake head to the story and infuriating fan-service to keep the audience guessing, “Is he Gandalf or Sauron?”
“I’m doing well!” he proclaims in his moment of triumph.
The detractors of my review generally have two (ugly) arguments as replies:
The first: “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.” I guess most people took that advice. Unfortunately for those of you who did like the show, this advice is also the surest way to get your show canceled. I suggest you stop saying that, lest you get what you want.
The second: “It’s just fantasy, what if XY and Z happened?” It’s a terrible argument. Even in a fantasy, the basic rules of plausibility apply. Fantasy has rules and limits or why not just have all the characters become powerful wizards who can shoot fireballs from their eyes? Why have a struggle or conflict if “it’s just fantasy”?
Good fantasy is like any other fiction. A quality fantasy story is almost always part of some sort of plausible yet fantastical world. It has relatable characters who make tough choices. Whatever fantasy elements we enjoy, from dragons to magic, need to be tempered with the things that help ground them and make them real.
A 37% completion rate is incredibly bad and terrible news for Amazon and its shareholders. Frankly, it’s a stunning rebuke of everything Amazon Studios and the showrunners have done so far, and should lead to a major overhaul across the board. If I was Jeff Bezos, I’d be livid. Heads were rolling.
Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke did her best to spread this news.
“This desire to paint the show as nothing less than a success – it doesn’t reflect any conversation I have internally,” says, adding “It’s a huge opportunity for us. The first season took a lot of betting. in place.
Too much configuration was the least of the show’s problems, Jennifer. That’s not even a good rotation.
power rings failed on all fronts, and the majority of viewers seem to feel the same way. I have little faith that season 2 will be anything but the same. Amazon should cut its losses and start over with a new project led by people who not only know how to make a decent TV show, but how to live up to Tolkien’s tradition while doing it. Fantasy requires a bit more magic than the current team is capable of conjuring.
Check out my video on this topic below:
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