Tuesday 18 October 2022

Season One of the Rings of Power, reviewed...

Well; I have now watched all eight looong episodes of Season One, Amazon's Ring's of Power; watched it with the kind of salacious and guilty fascination one observes the emergence of a tsunami to overwhelm a town, or the cumulative wreckage of a multiple-pile-up road traffic accident. 

I have lowered, and lowered, my expectations of this series. It is, of course, nothing to do with Tolkien - nothing in terms of plot, spirit, lore, and - especially not - moral and spiritual structure. 

So, I lowered my expectations down to the point of simply looking-for something that attracts and maintains my attention; I looked for simple light entertainment. 

I therefore lowered 'the bar' to the level of such mainstream soap-fantasy tripe as Shadowhunters; but Rings of Power did not reach this bar - except at too-rare intervals. 

I found (as I said in the above review) one of the most astonishingly incompetent shows I have ever encountered. There are stunning deficiencies in terms of overall conception, casting, acting, script, plot, direction and editing - the RoP breaks all the standard rules for how to construct a story and to get people involved. 

One gets the impression that this was because the makers have no clue about how to make a TV program (or movie), not even at the basic film school level; that they genuinely don't understand that (by their choice to make the show so complex, and with so many 'principal' characters) they have repeatedly painted themselves into a corner; from where it has become, not just difficult, but actually impossible for them even to provide low-level, mainstream entertainment. 

They seem to have no idea what works and what does not work; because they give the greatest attention to what does not work (e.g. Galadriel and the Harfoots). 

An example of the endemic ineptitude was that the picture advertising the final episode was the Balrog of Moria, which was depicted for a few seconds at the end of a previous episode. 

The Balrog did not appear at all in the final episode. Indeed, the episode did not even return to the Moria plot thread in which the Balrog occurred. 

It's not as if they lacked time to include it, because the final episode was full of padding - such as a full five minutes of farewell emoting and weeping from the Harfoots; and several utterly disconnected and dramatically futile scraps from the Numenor thread. 

Sheer incompetence. 

Some parts of it were fine, by the standards I set myself. The (at last...) 'revelations' concerning the identity of the wizard (presumably Gandalf) and Sauron were well enough done to keep me entertained and attentive - if morally both shallow and abhorrent in their underlying assumptions. 

(But four idiot-fool, unarmed Harfoots catching-up-with and defeating three super-powered and ruthless bad-angels was ludicrously unbelievable.)  

But if the makers knew what they were doing; these revelations would have happened in the third or fourth, not eighth, episode; since the absurdity of withholding such 'secrets' got less interesting, more boring, and more confusing. 

Contrary to the sophomoric expectations of some early-modern artists and writers; deliberately confusing the audience is not difficult, therefore not clever; and counter-productive to storytelling and script quality. 

The longer the deliberate confusion over identity persisted, the longer the pseudo-secret was sustained - the less interested I was in learning the answers (which I had guessed anyway). A script that relies heavily on the chronically-delayed-unveiling of artificially-withheld-information; represents one of the lowest, because least-effective, forms of storytelling. 

The Rings of Power was therefore a fascinating snapshot of the Decline of The West, where basic functionality is almost entirely disregarded; and the gap between claims and accomplishment is bridged by massive and coordinated media propaganda...

Yet, at the same time, that media propaganda is itself subject to the same self-imposed corruption, and therefore cannot sustain the lies it is trying to enforce.

Collapse of functionality in one sector, creates collapse of functionality in other sectors - until there is (there must be) general collapse. 

Incompetence is no longer regarded as a flaw; so long as failures happen in the context of woke/ politically correct signaling. 

Whether in TV, movies, novels, art, architecture, museums or whatever; the audience are required to admire (and enjoy!) the preaching and soft-sell of current socio-political taking points - and to pretend that they are thereby being edified and entertained.   

Ours is a world of value inversion; part of which is that the people in charge are picked from the least competent at their purported function. And indeed are appointed without any requirement for competence. 

Those 'in charge' of our social institutions are either de facto (or actual) actors (speaking someone else's lines), or were appointed to meet affirmative actions quotas, or else got jobs on the basis of their ability to bullshit in the necessary style. 

Thus the root of the problem is not incompetence, but instead actually malign intention; the incompetence happens by deliberate will and choices. 

The reason we have incompetent people in charge almost-everywhere, is because those who are ultimately In Charge, positively desire societal destruction; and therefore deploy incompetence towards this aim.

...At least, the use incompetent personnel whenever the motivation to failure needs to be deniable (i.e. when they cannot plausibly pretend that purposive destructiveness is a sensible and positive policy). 

Rings of Power might have been a well-made and cunningly-crafted inversion of Tolkien's work; done with the intent of over-writing and spoiling Lord of the Rings in memory and by framing of future expectations...

But in the actual case (for whatever reasons) somebody decided to recruit armies of incompetents, at every level and in most functions, to make the show. 

Apparently, it was decided simply to give incompetence its head - to bore the pants off the audience, and encourage them to stop-watching in droves. 

Perhaps 'they' are vaguely hoping that this fiasco of a show will stop too many people going-on to read the original Lord of the Rings - by encouraging the idea that it would be similarly dull, pointless and incoherent as the Rings of Power

I can't say I find this theory convincing; but such a disaster certainly did not happen just by accident: there were just too-many, too-bad decisions for random chance to explain. 

Perhaps it is some kind of cunning fraud on the lines of Mel Brook's The Producers... A plan to profit from failure? 

If so, and if the scam works; the Rings of Power may just be the first of many such shows!


Alexeyprofi said...

Could you watch the anime "monster"? It has a very Christian-like morality and a complicated history. I would be interested in your thoughts.

Alexeyprofi said...

Modern Western studios are focused on making money, and not on creating something good. Previously, creative activities were carried out by people who experienced an inner desire for this, and recognition was the result of this activity, and not the goal. Now the creation of films (and not only) is in the hands of studios, which by definition cannot be creative. They come up with a project, find someone to execute it, and then try to sell it with advertising, and the intrinsic value of what they create does not matter. I stopped expecting something from new video games/movies/series a long time ago, and if I need something, I try to find the good in what has already been released. Mostly watch anime or read manga nowadays (not too often though)

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ap - I wish the Western Studios really *were* trying to make money - because then they would at least 'give the public what they wanted', and we would get entertained if not edified.

But nowadays, they are trying to brianwash the publish, more than trying to make money. Although in an indirect sense, the structure of subsidies, loans, patronage, taxation - and the fear of legal and media action - mean that a woke-focused show can be spun as if it was aimed at money.

But I know, partly from personal experience, that the bosses and rulers are not optimizing income - although clearly they need enough money to do their dirty work. Money is a means to an end, and the end is leftism.

Bureaucrats and managers especially are much more interested in promoting the leftagenda, than in optimizing institutional income - and all large organizations are run with managerial priorities nowadays. The Managers will - and do - kill the goose that lays the golden egg - as when the BBC sacked Jeremy Clarkson (their biggest moneyspinner), or (I think) publishers of JK Rowling dissociate themselves from her views.

Sean G. said...

Instead of watching ROP I started the Andy Serkis read LOTR audiobook. I was waiting for this inevitable bad review to put my mind at ease that I was not missing anything. Thank you for you service!

Jacob Gittes said...

All by design.
Even the outrage and complaints are desired. The despair at the fact that our system can't produce even cheap, light entertainment. All by design.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Bruce - I think these large conglomerates have so much legacy IP and cash flow that "profit" is just a matter of financial legedermain. The product can be good or it can be crap, doesn't matter. It's communism for the rich.

In past times when a vacuum in competency or leadership opened up, someone quickly capitalized on it--great men show up to do extraordinary things, like Eisenhower, Augusto Pinochet, Augustus Caesar. Paul Kagame showed up and stopped a genocide. But now it's as if anybody with any "greatness" qualities has completely left the field. I speculate that they've burrowed down in consulting or technical roles, making their money while they can and then retreating to gated communities, completely out of sight.

Pletho's Ghost said...

In 2019 I heard that Amazon got the rights to the footnotes in the Silmarillion and I knew whatever they produced was going to be soulless and "corporate", a sick parody of Tolkien. I never expected it to be this bad though. They really surprised me this time.

In the years leading up to the premiere I paid attention to the periodic updates from Amazon studios about the show; first the fact that they fired Shippey, then their "diverse" casting choices, finally the statement by one of the writers that the show was going to "reflect modern sensibilities" or some nonsense.

Hats off to Dr. Charlton for suffering through this abomination for our sakes. I'll never waste one second of my life watching this dreck.

Bruce Charlton said...

@H - This is an interesting and informed speculation about how it is the the RoP kept changing its nature: you may remember that the first announcement was that Amazon were doing a remake of Lord of the Rings -


Epimetheus said...

I wonder if it's just personal insecurity. The wretched starvation for love that characterizes the heartless wastelands of the modern West leads to a withering of all self-esteem, and maybe even full-bore serpentine psychopaths aren't exempt from this, so these overlords or whatever just recruit ever more incompetent & obsequious idiots who make them feel like omnipotence geniuses by comparison. The TV show comes out accordingly.

Things are coming to a point, even for demon-worshipping psychopaths.

The situation reminds me of that movie Daybreakers, where the vampires (psychopaths) have successfully taken over the world and are factory farming the remaining humans (empaths), but the real humans are all dying out and the vampires are facing the inevitable decay to outright bestial mindless lobotomized cannibalism before the final extinction. There's something very special, even prophetic, about that film. The vampires are converted back to humans by their own cannibalistic impulses in the end. I guess the moral is that the doom of psychopathy is cannibalizing Jesus Christ out of sheer starvation when he returns.

Lady Mermaid said...

Thank you for watching and reviewing that monstrosity so I don't have to. I knew it was going to be terrible just hearing about the wokeness. I also passed on Wheel of Time despite having Amazon Prime membership as the trailer looked terrible. Leisure time is short and precious to me. I'm not wasting it on art w/ no redeeming value whatsoever.

I don't think it's necessarily by a conscious design as leftism cannot design anything; it can only devolve into pure chaos. As I pointed out in Francis Berger's thread about the Four Horsemen, I believe the demons and many of their servants in public leadership truly wanted the Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism that is present in much of the sci-fi genre. However, since their evil nature prevents any real creation; they're increasingly incapable of maintaining even basic societal infrastructure. The more evil the organization; the greater the dysfunction.

Jason said...

This is why Amazon made this thing, and indeed why all bad remakes are made: to make it harder to find the original in a search engine.