About a year ago, word came out that Amazon would be producing a TV series based on "The Lord of the Rings" after purchasing the rights to the fantasy book series from the Tolkien estate. My reaction to this news shocked even myself: rather than feeling overjoyed and beyond excited to see the magnificent works of J.R.R. Tolkien come to life on the screen, I felt only disappointment.
It's not that I have anything against Tolkien's works being adapted for the screen (either as movies or television shows). Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am OBSESSED with Peter Jackson's film adaptations of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit."
And I am definitely not one of the Tolkien purists – those in the fandom who take every opportunity to criticize adaptations of Tolkien's work if those adaptations deviate at all from the original work (e.g., seen in the backlash that "The Hobbit" trilogy has received for often differing from Tolkien's book of the same title). In fact, I actually like "The Hobbit" movies more than the book, despite the fact that a large portion of the fandom might see me as a traitor for preferring something that differs from what Tolkien himself wrote.
So, no, I'm not a Tolkien purist, and I'm not opposed to Tolkien's works and creation of Middle-earth being brought to life on the screen. Like I said, I love and adore the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" movies. Why, then, am I so hesitant (and even disappointed) to see Amazon produce a new TV series based on Tolkien's works? Indeed, I want to be excited to see the Tolkien fandom grow and thrive again as this TV series is produced, but personally, I am not particularly eager to watch the show.
Perhaps it is because I feel it is too soon. "The Lord of the Rings" movies came out only 15 years ago, and the last "Hobbit" movie came out less than five years ago. As an obsessed fan of these movies, it's hard for me to imagine anyone other than Peter Jackson bringing Tolkien's work to script and screen. Sure, it's been a while since LOTR came out, but old and young people alike have fallen in love with these movies over the years – and to see new writers and directors and studios already jumping in on the action and trying to adapt Tolkien's work for the screen just feels too soon.
I also fear seeing new actors take over roles that have already been portrayed on screen (e.g., having someone replace Ian McKellen as Gandalf or Cate Blanchett as Galadriel). I can't imagine anyone else playing the roles that were so well-portrayed in Peter Jackson's films. Of course, no casting decisions have been revealed yet, so it's possible that some LOTR/"Hobbit" actors will find their way into this series (or perhaps the characters in the show will be completely different from ones seen before, so no one will replace anyone).
Overall, I guess I'm not looking forward to this show because I'm holding on to the films I love so much. I want to love both, but I don't know that I can. I'm not ruling out the possibility that I will like the show, but I'm certainly not looking forward to it like I want to. Just as those who grew up in the 70s and 80s often don't like modern remakes of movies from that era, so I'm holding on to what was made in the past and am not quite ready to embrace something new.
Does this mean I don't want this series to be made? Absolutely not. I think it's wonderful that Tolkien's work continues to thrive and inspire creativity in people today, and I'm sure that many people will love the show – and perhaps it will attract new fans who weren't previously in the Tolkien fandom. And maybe I'll be surprised and actually like it – in fact, I would love for that to be the case.
And does this mean that I'll look down on anyone who looks forward to/likes the series? Not at all. Everyone has different tastes and preferences, and I think that fandoms are so wonderful in that they provide a vast array of stories, movies, books, shows, etc. for people to love and enjoy. Someone else will probably like the show, and I'm glad that others can find enjoyment in that. I for one love the "Hobbit" movies, an opinion that many in the Tolkien fandom look down on as they claim that the "Hobbit" movies "abused" Tolkien's work and fell far short of the LOTR movies. For many people who love the LOTR movies, "The Hobbit" trilogy is seen as an abomination. Essentially, then, I know what it's like to love something that everyone else in the fandom hates, so I don't ever want to look down on someone who likes something I don't (unless, of course, what they like is morally wrong or questionable).
One bright spot in all this is that the Amazon TV series won't be retelling the events of "The Lord of the Rings." Instead, the show will focus on other storylines (e.g., the childhood of Aragorn) and serve as more of a prequel to LOTR. Tolkien's works are vast, and the writers of this show have so much ground they can cover. And maybe I'll be impressed – we'll see. For now, you'll find me curling up for a LOTR or "Hobbit" movie marathon and longing for the "good old days" when the Peter Jackson films were still coming out.