I have watched the first three episodes of Amazon's Rings of Power pseudo-Tolkien series; and - although it is indeed very bad, as everyone with a capacity for valid judgment realizes - I think the fundamental quality of its badness has been somewhat misrepresented by the reviews I have seen.
My personal context is that the show is so completely un-Tolkienian (in all but a few names) that it is actually much less painful to watch than I have feared it would be... at least much less painful in that way.
I feared some kind of cunning and parodic subversion, which would tend to exploit and twist Tolkien, intending subtly to reshape and poison ones memories and concepts - and to program the expectations of new Tolkien readers with a false and evil frame.
But Rings of Power comes across as something else altogether - something rather more like the TV series of Sword of Shannara (but, in effect, much worse). Sure - RoP grossly misrepresents Tolkien - but so grossly that it ceases to be Tolkien altogether.
Therefore, I could not help but watch RoP in its own terms; forgetting my lifelong love of Tolkien's work and judging the show purely as if it was an original fantasy series.
And it is that that level where lies The Problem - or rather the lethal combination of problems.
Rings of Power is very badly done in its conception, plotting, script and editing.
It also strikes me as badly cast, acted and directed (in particular there is an absence of 'star quality' - the mysterious and unfakeable capacity of some actors to hold attention and impress).
However, these are not The Problem; because when the problems of a show are so fundamental - appropriate casting and good acting, with well-directed 'stars' in the major roles, could not make a qualitative difference to the effectiveness.
The key word for Rings of Power is "inept".
Despite, or more likely because of, its expensiveness; RoP fails to reach even the minimum acceptable standards of conception, plotting, script and editing.
In watching TV; one just comes to take these for granted, even in shows one dislikes, even in shows that fail overall... One takes for granted that a show knows what it is trying to do, contains comprehensible storylines, with characters whose basic motivations and intentions are expressed in dialogue and action.
And one expects that the editing of a show (its construction from the various plotlines, moving between the characters) is at least clear and unobtrusive...
One expects to understand what is going on, and to have an implicit sense of the kind of show one is watching (even when one dislikes this), and the kind of place it is aiming-at (even when the destination is somewhere nasty or dull).
But it is in providing these fundamentals that Rings of Power fails most egregiously.
For instance; there are (already) scores of 'characters' in dozens of settings - so none of them can possibly be knowable, and hardly any can be, or become, memorable.
After being introduced-to an incomprehensible array of named characters in many civilizations in the first two parts; the third episode added yet another: "Numenor".
This showered us with even more new characters (Queen, Elendil, Isildur, Isildur's sister, some blacksmith bloke and his redshirt pals); each provided with an ultra-rapidly-sketched, supposedly defining- and motivating- backstory.
During which Galadriel's shipwreck companion is 'developed' as yet another utterly unsympathetic 'major character' - by showing how just selfish, lying and gratuitously vicious he is; yet with the impression that he is intended to be a charming and brilliant rogue in the Han Solo mode.
But surely it is basic 'film school' stuff to keep the number of characters, themes, and settings down to a manageable number?
It is difficult enough to manage the plot with even six major characters, but it is certainly impossible-cubed to write a good script with as many "characters" as in Rings of Power; where every change of scene and episode piles more and yet more upon us.
Certainly I don't care about any of the characters (and am actively bored or irritated by most); and the fact that the script is a gross, serial offender against the writers' workshop dictum "show, don't tell" is another problem. We are continually being told things about the races and characters, that are immediately and comprehensively contradicted by what we are shown.
For instance the pseudo-hobbit 'Harfoots' keep telling each other, and singing, (both in a nauseatingly sentimental fashion), about how they have 'big hearts', and help each other - and that this is the basis of 'who we are'... But we are shown that they spend all their time bickering and confronting each other (and lying and stealing) - exactly like a cheap and nasty TV soap.
When one old chap suffers a painful twisted ankle that persists such that he can't pull his handcart when the Harfoots are about to migrate - the near-universal expectation among the tribe is that he and his family will simply be left behind to die!
This contradiction is compounded by an extraordinarily overlong and tedious scene; in which the Harfoots are shown reading a list of those previously left behind, with a cod-religious chorus intoning that 'we will wait for them' - i.e. exactly what they did not.
There is one memorable character, called Galadriel - who we are told is an heroic leader; but who is shown as a sour-faced, over-promoted middle-manager; an entitled "Karen" - who happens to have ridiculously incredible super-powers (such as being able to swim - apparently - across thousands of miles of ocean).
But her greatest super-power is certainly her egotistic selfishness. If she is pulled from the freezing sea, or is starving and gets handed food; she does not say thank you, nor indicate gratitude in any shape or form. Instead, whenever Galadriel is helped, she simply demands that her rescuers will instantly provide whatever resources and assistance her current whim dictates.
Even this might be dramatically excusable for the major character if she had charm, charisma, allure... but there we are up-against the problem of miscasting compounded by bad direction (in which the actress is required to adopt the same peevish, gimlet-eyed, sour-mouthed facial expression through thick and thin - albeit admittedly her face is already well-suited to this).
And Galadriel is supposed to function as a unifying thread through this sprawling mess?
The editing is terrible - beyond bad. Some scenes are so rapid that we have little or no idea what has happened. This applies particularly to some of the fights - which are very badly paced, and lack key elements that let the audience understand what is going-on.
Many other scenes are uneventful and inconclusive interactions without narrative relevance ('plot loops') drawn-out with numbing tedium.
The pacing between scenes is astonishingly poorly done. Indeed, I have never experienced any editing quite so narratively disruptive on professional TV.
The action cuts back and forth between the innumerable characters and locations, but the time flows with widely differing speeds. In the whole second episode; some scenes showed that days were passing and quite a lot happening... during which an Elf spent the entire period trudging along a short tunnel.
In sum - I was expecting the Rings of Power At Least to achieve the level of a mainstream, clichéd, stereotyped, emotionally-manipulative and sometimes-exciting show (like Sword of Shannara) - but it does not reach even such modest heights.
I am genuinely fascinated that such an inept, amateurish, ineffectual and ultra-expensive mess as RoP could have happened at all: I keep watching because I can hardly believe what I am seeing...
In this regard, I think Rings of Power is a genuinely significant inflexion-point in the ongoing collapse of civilizational efficiency and effectiveness - akin to the UK Millennium Dome ("expensive, ugly, boring, unpopular and late"). Incompetence of this degree is no accident - but is instead diagnostic.
Never in the history of light entertainment were so many resources expended to so little effect to benefit so few.