There's already great debate over the most dramatic battle of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Powerwithout a minute of footage even being shown to the public.
I have the answer, and it's a simple one: expectations.
After years of production, this new epic series finally kicks off the month of September this Thursday on Amazon. The budget is said to be twice the amount that was spent on the entire Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The last of those three films took home Best Picture at The Oscars.
Keep in mind that there are already dragons flying all over HBO which wisely premiered its House of the Dragon last week. Westeros has quite the gravitational pull, and we only have so much time for fantasy sagas that took place thousands of years ago.
Big budget. Oscar pedigree. Dragons breathing down your neck. That's pressure, folks.
The first season of The Rings of Power was wisely shot in New Zealand to emulate the stunning cinematography of the Peter Jackson films. The Lord of the Rings in the title guarantees viewers for the first episode on the streamer, but where does it go from there?
This prequel is a brand-new story that takes place in the world of The Hobbit centuries earlier. As the title suggests, Sauron is busy creating the most potent rings to ever occupy the planet. We know how things eventually turn out, but now we'll learn how that powerful jewelry was created... and why.
No one complained about too much Tolkien when the three Peter Jackson films ruled the box office. The Hobbit was a disappointment to many fans of this world, and pushback slowly mounted as the award-winning legacy was tarnished.
This is the most expensive show ever made for television, and I can assure you that cash didn't go to the cast. The Rings of Power will be beautiful to watch, but it's the story that needs to be there.
This latest chapter of The Lord of the Rings isn't directly adapted from the Tolkien books. Game of Thrones had the George R.R. Martin stories to cull from in its early seasons, and when that source ran dry, the story went, uh, elsewhere. GoT was Martin's take on the Tolkien world, so that provides hope for the Amazon series.
The first two episodes premiere this week, with the remainder of the first season rolling out weekly through October. I understand the desire to keep people coming back for more, but Amazon would be better served leaving that to the cable networks. No one is looking for a weekly series on Prime Video. It's like getting part of your delivery from Amazon instead of the entire order. Let us binge, Amazon. Please.
The potential of this ten-part series is enormous, almost as big as the expectations. A second season has already been ordered, but that budget will depend on the success of this inaugural season. The fictional land of wizards, hobbits and elves beckons. Let's see how many viewers choose to occupy this very expensive real estate.
Here's what else is worth watching this week…
The Patient (Hulu) Tuesday, August 30th
Steve Carrell stars as a psychiatrist held captive by one of his patients trying to be cured of his homicidal urges. This ten-episode thriller was created by the team who created The Americans, so the drama will be intense.
Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert (Paramount+) Saturday, September 3rd 11:30am ET
The emotional outpouring from musicians around the world illustrates how beloved the late Foo Fighters drummer was. Music stars from around the globe gather in London to pay tribute to the most well-liked drummer in rock. Spend Saturday afternoon watching the live stream from Wembley.
The Secrets She Keeps (Sundance Now) Thursday, September 1st
Remember the thriller starring Edith from Downton Abbey kidnapping a beautiful neighbor's baby down under? It's back for a second season. Watch trailer.
THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT! (Shows That I Hope To Get To!)
Keep This Between Us (Freeform) – Four-part docuseries about women reflecting on relationships they had with high school teachers and their associated trauma. Monday at 9:00 PM ET.
Pantheon (AMC+) - An animated tale focusing on the idea of uploading consciousness to the cloud. Features an all-star voice cast including William Hurt's final performance. Thursday.
Devil in Ohio (Netflix) - Emily Deschanel (Bones) stars as a shrink whose family life unravels when she shelters a cult escapee. Friday.
McEnroe (Showtime) - Documentary about the world's whiniest and most entertaining tennis star. Sunday at 8:00 PM ET.
GREATEST HITS (Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)
This Week's Pick:Black Mirror (Netflix) - Most "modern day Twilight Zone" takes are failures. This one is anything but. The British anthology series created by Charlie Brooker explores the future of technology. The early episodes are some of the best TV you'll ever see. The satirical series is dark, thought provoking and extremely entertaining.
Previous Picks: The Leftovers (HBO Max) Deadwood (HBO Max) Rectify (AMC+) House of Cards (Netflix) Weeds (Showtime) Hannibal (Hulu) Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu) Downton Abbey (Peacock) Banshee (HBO Max) Police Squad! (Prime Video) Party Down (Starz) Dexter (Showtime) Alias (Hulu/Disney+) The Great (Hulu) Atypical (Netflix) Sherlock (PBS) Magic City (Peacock) Imposters (Netflix) Episodes (Showtime/Hulu) For All Mankind (Apple TV+) Abbott Elementary (ABC) Damages (Hulu) Luther (HBO Max) Downton Abbey (Netflix) Justified (Hulu) The Good Wife (Paramount+) Freaks & Geeks (Hulu) Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video) Battlestar Galactica (Peacock) The Split (Prime Video) Bordertown (Netflix) Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Get vaccinated. Get a booster (or two). Stay healthy and safe!