It’s that time of year, when fans from the world over gather in downtown Atlanta, for a weekend for well-mannered frivolity. Or crazed depravity. Or, most likely, some combination of the two. This year, alas, coronavirus means no in-person DragonCon, which is sad for all those who are missing seeing friends there. But it’s great new for anyone who has never been able to get to Atlanta, as this year you can join the fun online! And there is PLENTY going on for fans of Middle-earth. Let’s take a look…
Staffers deej and greendragon will be taking part as ever, and TheOneRing.net’s panel will be online at 11.30am ET on Saturday (5th). There, deej and greendragon will be joined by High Fantasy Track assistant director Madeye Gamgee, who was recently lured into joining the TORn staff. We’ll be looking back on the past 12 months of Tolkien fandom, and looking forward to see what we can be excited about in the year ahead. (Spoiler: there’s actually rather a lot!)
Before that, on Friday evening at 8.30pm ET we’ll be hosting a Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (EE) watch along. Set up your own device, and we’ll all hit play together at 9pm precisely; and text chat along as we watch. AND earlier on Friday, you can catch a panel with none other than Nori, Ori, Bombur and Bifur: Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, Stephen Hunter and William Kircher will be appearing together to chat all things dwarvish!
There are lots of other things happening which will be of interest to Tolkien fans. Here’s a list of highlights of the con weekend, beginning this evening:
Tolkien Come to Virtual Dragon Con High Fantasy Schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern Daylight)
Thursday, Sept. 3
Sylvester McCoy (from 2011)
We Have Always Fought: Warrior Women in High Fantasy
D*C Fan Tracks
Friday, Sept. 4
Greg Hildebrandt Spotlight
Dwarves on the Loose!(Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher)
8:30 pm onward
Watch-a-Thon! Fellowship of the Ring (hitting “play” together at 9 pm EDT)
And as if that weren’t enough… We are also excited to let you know that there WILL be TORn t-shirts available! You’ll be able to order them online, and we’ll be revealing the designs for 2020 in our panel on Saturday, 11.30am ET. So please join us then! We’ll also post links here for buying, after Saturday’s reveal.
It’s all happening at DragonCon 2020. We may not be able to gather in person, but we can still have merry meetings online; see you for panels, movie viewing, and more. Let the fun begin!
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks… Since March 19, characters from Middle-earth, and other roles played by the same actors, have been battling it out to claim the title Champion of Middle-earth March Madness 2018. We started with four brackets comprising roles from The Lord of the Rings movies, other roles by those same actors, roles from The Hobbit movies, and alter-egos for those cast members. The brackets were mixed, to give actors a chance of coming up against ‘themselves’ – and indeed in Round 3 we did see Christopher Lee’s Saruman go up against his Count Dooku, and Lee Pace’s Ronan face his majestically-eyebrowed Thranduil.
Boromir fell in the first round, defeated by Gimli, but Sean Bean’s Eddard Stark did make it all the way to Round 3, where he was conquered by eventual semi-finalist Samwise Gamgee. Sam made it the furthest of all the hobbits; Merry and Pippin both went out in Round 1, and Frodo fell to Aragorn in Round 2. Both Martin Freeman’s and Ian Holm’s Bilbos were knocked out back in Round 1; they had tough battles, being drawn against Gandalf and Faramir respectively.
The elves fared rather better, with Galadriel, Elrond and Thranduil all getting through to the Elite Eight (though Legolas, alas, could not get past Aragorn in Round 1). Wizards Saruman and Gandalf joined the elves in Round 4; but poor Radagast was beaten by Dwalin way back in the first round. In the world of men, only Aragorn managed to get as far as the Elite Eight; Dr John Watson, Sherlock Holmes, Dr ‘Bones’ McCoy, Rudy, and Carl from Van Helsing all joined Eddard Stark in being vanquished in the Sweet Sixteen round.
Just two rounds remain in this year’s Middle-earth March Madness – we’re down to the final four, facing off against each other in the Semi-Finals! Who has the strength to rule over all?
Let’s take a look back at the Quarter Finals – where none of the battles was as tight as might have been predicted. In a pairing which presented voters with a tough choice, the stout-hearted hobbit overcame his long-shanked foe; Aragorn was defeated by Samwise, with the Ranger unable to claim much more than a third of the vote. This result may surprise some, but then, Master Gamgee has always proved to have hidden strengths and depths.
Division II saw Galadriel going nuclear on Gollum, but still losing to the tricksssy one! Who would have thought that one of the River-folk could overcome a high elf, and a margin of two thirds to one third?
The mighty Maiar match was also not the closely fought duel one might have expected; it must indeed have been Gandalf the White who entered the lists, as he thrashed Saruman, taking over 85% of the vote!
Finally, in Division IV two elves faced off; a high (but half) elf against a woodland dweller. Thranduil may have ridden in on his war moose, but in the end, it was Elrond who came out victorious, claiming about three quarters of the vote.
And now we are down to just FOUR. Samwise vs Gollum – there’s no love lost between these two! Will the faithful gardener be able to overcome ‘Stinker’, or if he lets his guard down, will Gollum defeat the ‘stupid, fat hobbit’? Will it just devolve into a contest of name calling?! You decide!
Gandalf vs Elrond – will the wizard finally teach Half-elven a lesson, for failing to throw Isildur and the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom at the end of the Second Age? Or does Rivendell’s ruler have a trick or two up his voluminous sleeves? It’s up to you – VOTE NOW!
And then there were eight… It’s Quarter Finals time in this year’s Middle-earth March Madness – and Round 3 was a decisive round indeed. The people have spoken, and made it clear that alter-ego interlopers shall go no further; every duel in the last round was won easily by the Professor’s creations.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock) put up the best fight, taking a third of the vote against Elrond. Only two other non-Tolkien characters managed to climb over 20%: Karl Urban’s Leonard McCoy (Star Trek) fought hard but was no real competition for Galadriel, with the high elf in the end claiming more than three quarters of the vote. Alas, another Sean Bean character bites the dust prematurely; Eddard Stark (Game of Thrones) clawed his way to almost 29%, but could not hope to defeat the valiant Samwise Gamgee.
Martin Freeman’s John Watson (Sherlock) was thrashed by Gandalf, and David Wenham’s Carl (Van Helsing) received a similar humiliation at the hands of Gollum. At least, however, they made it into double figures; poor Rudy (Sean Astin) could only manage 7.13% against Gondor’s king. Aragorn’s triumph in that pairing will come as no surprise to anyone.
It was perhaps the ‘schizophrenic’ contests which were most interesting in this round; Christopher Lee faced himself as both Saruman and Count Dooku (Revenge of the Sith), and we wondered which way Lee Pace fans would vote, when having to choose between Thranduil and Ronan (Guardians of the Galaxy). Once again, the Middle-earth characters reigned supreme; Count Dooku couldn’t even manage to wrestle 9% of the votes away from Saruman.
So here we are at Round 4 – denizens of Tolkien’s realm all the way! The choices are tougher now; does Sam stand a chance against Strider? Will Gandalf and Saruman throw some break-dance moves in their fight, and will Saruman come out victorious? (Is he facing Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White? – you decide!) In the mighty battle of the elves, can Thranduil of the woodland realm possibly pose a threat to Elrond Half-elven? And is there anything the tricksssy Gollum can do, to give him a chance against Galadriel?
Quarter Final voting is open NOW, and runs until 10pm EST on Saturday 31st March. The Semi Finals will then start on Sunday 1st April. You can also take part in the ‘exit polls’ on Facebook, if you want a second chance to voice your opinion! Who looks set to take the ultimate crown this year…? VOTE NOW![Elite Eight] [Round 3 Bracket] [Round 2 Bracket] [Round 1 Bracket]
Sweet Sixteen – the lucky few who have made it through Round 2, to fight again in this year’s Middle-earth March Madness. Let’s take a look at how things stand, as you get ready to vote in Round 3…
Division I has had more than its share of tough choices, with beloved characters facing each other. Round 2 saw Samwise defeat Gimli, Aragorn thrash Frodo with over three quarters of the vote, and Sean Astin’s Rudy beat Dominic Monaghan’s Charlie Pace (from Lost). The big news is that a Sean Bean character still lives! Eddard Stark (Game of Thrones) beat Viggo Mortensen’s Frank Hopkins (Hidalgo), and now faces none other than Master Samwise in Round 3. How to choose?! Do you want to see Eddard Stark make it all the way to the final? Or are you hoping to see Sam face Rudy in Round 4 (assuming that Rudy can get past Aragorn, that is)? Tough decisions to be made…
In Division II, Galadriel soundly defeated Faramir, but Cate Blanchett’s Hela (Thor: Ragnarok) is out! Karl Urban’s Dr McCoy must have had the backing of USS Enterprise to help him come through, in a narrow victory (51.67% to 48.33%). (Hmm, I wonder what would have happened if Hela had been facing Karl Urban as Skurge – also Thor: Ragnarok – instead?) Gollum didn’t have too much trouble against King Theodon; David Wenham’s Carl (Van Helsing) vanquished Miranda Otto’s Mary Ann (War of the Worlds), and now needs to be on his guard against the tricksssy Gollum in Round 3.
The most overwhelming victory came in Division III, with poor Dwalin no match for Mithrandir – Gandalf took over 90% of the vote in that duel! But perhaps shockingly, Martin Freeman’s John Watson (Sherlock) was able to outwit the mighty Magneto, winning by a margin of less than 1%; and this, in spite of our Facebook ‘exit poll’ suggesting that Magneto would win 60-40! No chance, then, of Sir Ian’s two characters meeting in a later round; Christopher Lee, on the other hand, is throwing down against himself in Round 3, with both his Saruman and his Count Dooku (Revenge of the Sith) having been victorious in Round 2. Does a Sith Lord stand a chance against one of the Maiar? They’re both pretty treacherous, having both turned against their original allies and beliefs; but is a lightsaber a match for a wizard’s staff? You decide – vote now!
Finally, Division IV – where Hobbit elves and villains reside with their alter-egos. As expected, Tauriel was no match for Elrond, and was defeated by almost 64%. Hugo Weaving’s other character Agent Smith (The Matrix), however, was unable to stand up to the brainpower of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes. Will Sherlock take over Rivendell in Round 3, to make it the Last Holmely House? (Sorry – couldn’t resist…)
Lee Pace has to fight himself in Round 3, with his Thranduil and his Ronan (Guardians of the Galaxy) both winning their Round 2 battles with ease. Pace fans (is there a name for the Pace Army?), whom will you choose??
Round 3 voting is open NOW, and goes until 10pm EST on Wednesday 28th March. Round 4 will then be launched on Thursday 29th. Don’t forget to check out the ‘exit polls’ on Facebook, to see how the duels might play out. And let us know who you’re hoping will become ultimate champion this year, in the comments below! VOTE NOW! [Round 3 Bracket] [Round 2 Bracket] [Round 1 Bracket]
Who has made it through to the second round of Middle-earth March Madness 2018? There were some tough battles in the first round – and difficult choices for voters to make! Frodo vs Pippin; Gandalf vs Bilbo; Kili vs Nori… Whilst we may have a pretty shrewd idea who might win in such contests, it’s tough to have to see some of these characters fall at the first fence…
Some of the results are what one might expect. Galadriel easily overcame Eomer in Division II, with almost three quarters of the vote. In the same bracket, Andy Serkis’ Caesar put up a tough fight, but in the end he was no match for Cate Blanchett’s Hela (from Thor: Raganok), who took just over 60% of the vote. No-one would be particularly surprised to see that Magneto beat John Thornton (Richard Armitage’s dreamy role in North and South, but clearly no match for an X-man); and perhaps it was inevitable, in the clash of mighty wits, that Sherlock Holmes (as played by Benedict Cumberbatch) would beat Oscar Wilde (Stephen Fry).
More surprising was the victory in Division I of Gimli over Boromir. In a closely fought duel, the dwarf took just over 51% of the vote, dismissing any hopes of a Boromir vs Eddard Stark show down in Round 3. Fans will be relieved to know, however, that for once a Sean Bean character has stayed alive – thus far! – with Stark beating Will Turner (Pirates of the Caribbean) to go through to the second round. Now he faces Frank Hopkins, as played by Viggo Mortensen in Hidalgo. Be sure to vote for Eddard if you want to see a Sean Bean role survive to the end!
Another upset was the defeat of Ian Holm’s Bilbo by Faramir. The Lord of Gondor’s success may be short lived, however – he faces Galadriel in Round 2.
In Division IV, Elrond demonstrated that he should have gone with the Company to the Lonely Mountain; he defeated Smaug with a fairly convincing victory of 57.95% to 42.05%. Now the high elf will face the movie elf, Tauriel, in Round 2; we have a pretty good idea how that will go down, but if Tauriel fans come out and vote, you never know…
Round 2 voting is open NOW, and goes until 10pm EST on Sunday 25th March. We’ll announce winners and launch Round 3 on Monday 26th. You can also find some fun ‘exit polls’ on Facebook – a chance to see how people are voting in one or two of the face-offs. Want Samwise to defeat Gimli? Hoping John Watson might overcome Magneto? Keen to see Count Dooku bested by The Doctor? Then join the Madness and VOTE NOW (below)! [Round 2 Bracket] [Round 1 Bracket]