Wednesday, September 07, 2022

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (Amazon) — episodes one and a bit of two

I'm not about to go all Elon Musk on this show, yet neither am I fully invested at this stage. 

Other than cool, aloof Puerto Rican elf Arondir, the male elves do all seem to be variations of that immature minor public schoolboy from Men Behaving Badly. And there is something a bit boarding school about Galadriel here as well. 

As for Lenny Henry as a sort of proto-hobbit* complete with oddball Celtic intonation, it's all a bit CBBC for me. 

Given that Tolkein himself said that the Harfoots were a duskier kind of midget, why are only an (adult) smattering of these diminutive characters played by non-white Northern-Europeans and Antipodeans? 

From a colour-blind casting perspective**, that was surely a bit of a free pass...of the sort you don't get many of in the ersatz dark ages. 

Packing fantasy TV with thesps doing regional British and Irish accents — with the exception of the full Peaky Bloinders— which of course I'd have loved Sir Lenny to have insisted on — has become somewhat de rigeur in this genre. 

The signs are perhaps more promising in episode two. Maybe the trouble is that this is not quite what I was expecting. GOT has become a sort of formula that can repeated to greater or lesser effect. There is something more explorative and experimental going on here and I suspect I may become more attuned to it later on in the series. 

Location-wise, NZ will always trump Ulster, Malta, Croatia...and Watford, yet still needs to be used judiciously. 

* Hobbitid? 

** A total minefield, of course. GOT has developed a sort of cultural-historical-geographical rationale for race, whereby Dornish men look like one type of Formula One driver and the Targeryans look like the other, Finnish kind, the ones that struggle not to come across as automata in press conferences. 

When it is done well, one simply does not notice. Thus I would not notice an African American soprano singing the role of Brünnhilde in the Ring Cycle, but I might scratch my head if an aboriginal Australian were cast to play Harold Bluetooth in a historical drama...unless of course the production took other significant steps to make that casting decision appear relevant and thereby less notice-able within the overall approach. The casting of Dev Patel as Sir Gaarr-w'n in The Green Knight was masterful in that sense. 

Dare one say that some of the younger Harfoots here are in partial 'blackface'?

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