So far, the owners of more than 293,000 Twitter accounts have “liked” a tweet from Tesla CEO Elon Musk that he posted earlier this month, wherein he shared a brutal, 6-word takedown of Prime Video’s staggeringly expensive The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series. That tweet read, simply, “Tolkien is turning in his grave.”
There was, predictably, a flood of the usual news and bloggy coverage about Elon’s tweet, as is always the case. The Elon fanboys whooped, cheering him on. His detractors huffed that he ought to stick to cars and rockets, and leave reviewing TV shows to Very Serious People. I’m not going to say whether one or the other is correct, but I’ll just add this: I’ve given The Rings of Power prequel series, set thousands of years before the events depicted in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, enough of a chance.
I’m now 4 episodes in, and all I can say is … Elon called it. I am Bored. Out. Of. My. Mind.
Giving up on The Rings of Power
Here’s where I am at this point, having now watched 50% of the 8-episode first season of the show:
- I feel pretty much nothing for any of the characters.
- The story seems to be coalescing around a young version of Galadriel. She came off as badass at first, but now is just one note and super-annoying, with a borderline Messiah complex.
- The first episode of The Rings of Power certainly looked great. But the magic quickly wore off, and my interest sank like a stone after that.
- Oh, and speaking of stones: There is some truly atrocious writing here. Like when Galadriel’s brother Finrod asks the future elven queen, as a child, if she knows why stones sink and ships float. It’s apparently because stones “look down,” while ships “look up to the stars.” Be right back, I need to throw up.
Long story short, every word of this Rings of Power review from Forbes is right on the money. “This is bad writing, pure and simple. Bad characterization. Choppy dialogue. Characters who don’t make sense and clearly dislike one another as much as we dislike them.” So, again, I come back to giving credit where it’s due. Elon called it.
Rotten Tomatoes scores
To be sure, the Rings of Power critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes is certainly decent, standing at 84% as of the time of this writing. The show’s audience score of 38%, meanwhile, is based on 29,853 user ratings. It also gives you a good idea of how ordinary viewers besides me are responding to the show.
I want to love Rings of Power so bad but some of the dialogue that's supposed to come across as badass comes off as so cringey instead. It's akin to some of the writing in GoT Season 8 and that's not something you want to share similarities with…
— Coffin Stuffer (@Coffin_Stuffer1) September 17, 2022
If the most expensive TV show in history had been compressed into a movie (instead of letting two first-time showrunners have a crack at this), I suspect at least some of the shortcomings might have been taken care of. But that’s an academic and meaningless thought at this point, I suppose.
Here, meanwhile, is some data from a sentiment analysis produced by Wettfreunde.net, which analyzed thousands of tweets to get an idea about what viewers think about The Rings of Power. Among the findings:
47.3% of the tweets were positive, 19.9% were negative, and 32.8% were classified as neutral.
The most mentioned actor from the series is Morfydd Clark (portraying Galadriel) — she was mentioned in 30.7% of the LOTR tweets. Lenny Henry (portraying Sadoc Burrows) and Sophia Nomvete (portraying Princess Disa) were the second and third most mentioned actors, respectively, in 21% and 7.5% of the tweets analyzed.
The most mentioned character from the series so far has been Galadriel — she was mentioned in 30.1% of the tweets analyzed.
Rings of Power Ratings
Along the lines of the show having high engagement, despite some viewers like Tesla’s CEO feeling let down by it, here’s something else in its favor:
Third-party ratings, in the form of just-released Nielsen numbers (for the show’s first two episodes), reveal that The Rings of Power garnered a little over 1.2 billion minutes of viewing time over the first three days of their release. For the week of August 24-September 4? That means Prime Video had the most-watched show measured by Nielsen — quite an accomplishment, no matter what I think of the show thus far, for a streamer that’s heretofore had to fight hard to get out of the shadow of rivals like Netflix and HBO Max.