Switch on at Amazon JRR Tolkien adaptation The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power This summer felt like boarding a yacht or entering a Four Seasons. that looks expensive you could almost hear people say as Galadriel trotted through a corner of Middle-earth. Imagination dripped from every castle wall and humble subterranean hut. And rightly so; Amazon has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the show and plans to shell out more.
Also expensive looking? HBO’s game of Thrones precursor house of the dragon. It didn’t cost nearly as much as rings, but — thanks largely to advances in CGI — it looked pretty as hell. It had to be, because this year pitted two of the greatest fantasy franchises of all time, the brainchild of Tolkien and George RR Martin, and one of them seemed destined to come out on top.
Except nobody did.
It wasn’t that they weren’t critically loved –house of the dragon maybe a little more than Rings of Power– or that they were not observed. (Amazon has been a bit coy about numbers, though rings does not appear to have been bombed; dragon had the biggest final night of any HBO series since game of Thrones.) Instead, they had no real effect. Fantasy films and series have been heavyweights for decades, but it has taken them a while to reach mainstream status. Now everyone has a favorite fantasy. But now it’s so pervasive in culture that no series can even remotely capture the public’s attention. It’s all just a bunch of long hair, swords and sorcery.
Maybe that’s not the right attitude. As Ben Lindbergh wrote in a play for The Ringer earlier this year, pitting these shows against one another is a little foolish. They are not in a “deathmatch,” as Martin pointed out. rings is much more imaginative, full of elves, dwarves, orcs and the like. dragon has none of that, but it has a lot more bloody cruel childbirth and incest. rings could almost be a family show; dragon it isn’t – unless you hate your kids. But not viewers have opting for one or the other, despite the discourse that encourages viewers to do so. One could just assume that the end of 2022 was the golden age of fantasy, and that was it.
But that’s not really the point. The problem isn’t that not a single winner came out on top; this is not highlanders. It so happens that the two biggest fantasy franchises went head-to-head, and talks about both lasted about as long as a policy change on Twitter. As Peter Jackson’s finale Lord of the rings Movie, return of the king, hit theaters in December 2003, people didn’t stop talking about it until 2005 (approximately). That game of Thrones Finale was goddamn, but at least people talked about how goddamn it was for months. It’s been less than two months since the house of the dragon season finale aired, and it already feels forgotten.
Perhaps that is also a sign of the times. Every other major fantasy release is from a different world. Some before Facebook became meta, others before Twitter was even born. A good TV show can stay in the air for a few weeks, but rarely for much longer. (People, stranger things Season 4 was this year.) It would be incredible if a show was so mind-blowing that people couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks, months, or even years. But maybe This is just a fantasy.
https://www.wired.com/story/rings-of-power-vs-house-of-the-dragon/ This Year’s Epic Fantasy Face-Off Had No Winners