I feel it in the earth… I smell it in the air… It’s almost time for Middle-earth March Madness 2023!

But what will the theme be this year? Who (or what) will be the 64 competitors who enter the fray, each hoping to win YOUR vote and become the Champion for 2023?

All will be revealed next week. Meanwhile you can take a look at last year’s ‘Battle of the Ages’ here. Get ready to play along; it’s the deep breath before the plunge…

It’s almost time – time for 64 contenders to start out on an epic quest, to discover who (or what) will be the Champion of Middle-earth March Madness 2022!

We’ll be revealing the theme of this year’s contest next week, on TORn Tuesday (March 15th). As last year, we’ll also have a ‘Wild Card’ round, where you can vote between two entries which narrowly missed the cut for the original brackets, and decide which entry the chosen one will replace. Round One of the contest will then begin on March 22nd; and the final round will end on April 4th, in line with the ‘real’ March Madness.

All will become clear next week. Meanwhile you can take a look at last year’s ‘Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth’, here. Get ready to play along; it’s the deep breath before the plunge…

What do we hope for, from tonight’s Teaser Trailer?

Middle-earth and Numenor

Trailers do the heavy lifting in helping get butts in seats in theaters or on the couch watching your big-screen television. A good trailer will indicate what the story is, introduce the main players and toss in some action or comedic dialogue, all depending on the genre. Movie trailers and television trailers are very different simply because a film has one big story arc, while a television show will have many, and the idea is usually to tease your first episode or two and maybe some vague hints for later episodes. 

So, what do we all want to see from this trailer running during the Super Bowl today, early in the 3rd quarter? Well, the main consensus is MORE, of everything. More characters than those already introduced in photos, more costumes, more weapons, but especially, more Kingdoms. 

Below are the wish lists from a few of our staff members, starting with this writer’s own list.

Garfeimao’s comments:

1. I want to see Arondir, the Silvan Elf, being more Elf-like and to see if he’s mostly alone or part of a community of Elves in the forest. And I especially want to see if that chest plate with the face and leaves is actually made of wood or something else. 

Silvan Elf Arondir

2. Dwarves, give us miners, builders, fighters. I just want to see something that indicates the scope of their realm and culture. 

3. Why is Galadriel adrift at sea, was she on a ship that sank, or do we start with her in Numenor at the time it of its sinking, and then everything else is a flashback? 

4. More Lindon please, and more of the Elves there.

5. How do the Two Trees factor into anything? Will there be any action there, or is it just a short flashback of sorts? 

Our first glimpse of The Rings of Power, but not in the 2nd Age

Elessar’s comments:

I just want to see things in motion. This will help let us know if what we saw in the photos (quality of things) translates when it moves. 

Seeing folks talk and interact will help let us know if they can carry the weight of things or if they just look good in photos. 

These things will be important to me as I’ve already folded my cards on one of my big must haves for this show.

I’m going to classify these next two as “the Season/Series aspirations we hope that the Teaser Trailer will hint at”.

Madeye Gamgee’s comments: 

Recognizing that this is a “teaser” trailer, and that I’ll likely be left wanting a LOT more under any circumstance, my main interests fall under two main headings. It will be great for the teaser to:

  1. Dispel concerns. My summarizing “angst” may be hard to pin down, but I’d express it as “Tolkien faithfulness.” I’m not looking for elusive adherence to “canon” (there’s precious little, given the paucity of real substantive narrative to draw from — all we’ve really got are timelines and very limited narrative sketches versus the fully developed narratives of The Hobbit and LotR). I also fully appreciate that the visual medium is vastly different from the written form, and must have adaptive room to breathe, both visually and in its development of plot. Dwarves that must be presented with memorable and distinctive personalities and appearances (versus merely polychromatic capes) is an illustration. Visual forms inflexibly enslaved to written source material more often than not simply results in bad storytelling  (see the early Potter movies, for example). So what does faithfulness to Tolkien mean? Respect for characters. Resistance toward commercial tropes that became so evident with studio intervention in The Hobbit (like love triangles). No violence and sexuality that is gratuitous. Not failing to integrate the themes that Tolkien really cared about: fellowship, hope, faithfulness, unity and resilience in the face of evil, transcendent sacrificial love, characters infused with honor and history and realism in their struggles. I could go on. I want to see this teaser trailer and, just like when we saw Gandalf riding up to Bag End in Fellowship, feel deeply that, “yes, they’re getting Tolkien right” versus merely, “ok, they’re playing in Tolkien’s sandbox.”

Durin IV

2. Create a hunger to see and hear more. Of course I’ve got lots of specific things I’d like to know about. What’s the target time span within the 2nd age? What’s getting compressed as far as the timeline? Will we see Sauron, and in what guises? Who are the recipients of the rings, and how do those rings affect them? Will we see the some specific characters that we don’t yet know about, like Elros, Erendis, Aldarion, Celeborn, Anárion, etc.?  More generally, who will be the protagonists and antagonists? What’s the overarching story arc and how will it be handled (particularly since it’s not likely to be the Quest architecture as with LotR and The Hobbit)? How deftly will new characters be woven in with established, iconic ones? Will we see “payoff” moments this season, like the forging and distribution of the rings, or Elros and the Númenóreans arriving on Elenna-nórë/Andor, or Galadriel and Celeborn planting Mallorn trees in Lórien, or the discovery of mithril and rumblings of the Balrog in Moria, etc., etc.? As a Tolkienite, will these stories both draw from those elements that we know, and build these worlds and characters in ways that we care about (including with screenwriting language worthy of Tolkien, as we almost always received with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens)? Or will the writers be more interested in advancing their own independent narratives, divested from the deep history that Tolkien left us? I’m fine with new stories. But just as we see with Tolkien in LotR, I am eager to see and experience these ancient echos of Middle-earth even in the newest of narratives. Like Tolkien’s extension of the “Man in the Moon” song at Bree, that’s what I long to see and experience: great writing that gives me fresh perspectives and insight and delight in ways that enhance rather than compete, dilute, or distract from Tolkien’s rich world.  

Bronwyn’s Apothecary

Mithril’s comments: 

What do I want to see in the trailer? Everything that Madeye Gamgee said, and….

Númenor and when in the timeline it is. I hope in the series we get to see it both before and after the fall. Could we see Elves from Tol Eressëa? Isildur stealing the fruit from the White Tree, Nimloth. Isildur, Elendil, and Anárion together, having a conversation. The 7 Palantíri working as a system of long-distance communication. Though I doubt we’ll see them in the trailer: Annúminas, the building of Minas Anor and Minas Ithil –I’ve long wanted to see Osgiliath’s Dome of Stars

Gil-galad, the last King of the Ñoldor! Khazad-dûm in its glory when the West-gate is open and Hollin is flourishing with lots of Elves and Dwarves working together. Durin IV and Disa! I’m sure we’ll see Galadriel and Elrond, just curious in what contexts. I want to hear some of the political intrigue Elrond is crafting. And speaking of crafting, Celebrimbor! The greatest craftsman since Fëanor. I want to see him creating something, even if it’s not one of the rings, and possibly some other of the jewel-smiths, the Gwaith-i-Mírdain. So curious to see the fair form that Annatar takes, though I doubt we will, or if we do, we won’t know it’s him.

The “secretive” Hobbits, what their community looks like, do they live in Hobbit holes? Harad and the Southland. Inside Bronwyn’s apothecary–I always like looking at those types of details, jars and bowls filled with native flowers and herbs, potions. A snippet of conversation between her and Arondir. A closer peek at Halbrand who looks like he could be an ancestor of Faramir. Will we find out what he’s running from and how it ties in with the story?

I also want to see more costumes, sets, weaponry…do we get to see the Númenoreans steel bows? And I’m curious about how the actors will sound–will there be different accents? Dialects? Will there be Elvish/Dwarvish/Adûnaic spoken with subtitles in some places? And I’m more than a bit intrigued to see some of the magic the Vanity Fair article mentions. What form will it take? Who will wield it? Could there be Wizards?! Not a lot to ask….

Join us and a hosts of guests at the #LOTRTrailer Official Watch Party, from 5.15pm PT today, Feb 13th. Share your reactions to the trailer at #LOTRFans. So it begins!

Once upon a time, there were two Happy Hobbits who were watching a trailer. They recorded their reaction; and this is what happened next…

That’s TORn’s own Happy Hobbits, reacting to The Desolation of Smaug trailer – and being watched by three lovely elves.

Now we want to see YOUR reactions, to The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power trailer! Tomorrow, Feb 13th, sometime between 5.35 and 5.40pm PT, be ready to watch the first trailer, either during the big game or on Prime Video’s YouTube channel. Record yourself as you watch, and share your reaction videos with us! Tweet them to #LOTRFans – we want to see how the FANS enjoy this first glimpse of a new vision of Tolkien’s world.

Then join us on our YouTube channel and across social media, to chat, analyse and dissect! We’ll be watching for your reaction videos at #LOTRFans, and may share some of them during our live stream. Middle-earth awaits – we’re going (there and) back again! #LOTRTrailer #LOTRFans

EXCLUSIVE: At the beginning of the week, Amazon announced that we will see the first TRAILER for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power TV series tomorrow, Sunday, February 13th – Super Bowl Sunday in the United States. We followed that announcement with the news that TORn is partnering with Prime Video, to host the OFFICIAL Trailer Watch Party live stream.

We are now the first to reveal WHEN you’ll see the Rings of Power trailer.

Prime Video have let us know that it will debut early in the third quarter of the game. That gives us a rough window of time during which it will play. For those of you not watching the Super Bowl, the trailer will be posted on the internet almost immediately as it airs on tv; find it on Prime Video’s youtube channel. Be sure to be watching:

Feb 13th 5.35-5.40pm Los Angeles; 8.35-8.40pm Boston; Feb 14th 1.35-1.40am London; 2.35-2.40pm Wellington

We will go live from 5.15pm PT Sunday 13th; please join us across all social channels, all around the world! We’ll have guests including the Tolkien Professor Corey Olsen; artist Colleen Doran; music expert Doug Adams; and a host of Tolkien influencers and fellow fans! Not to mention TORn staffers who have been around since the First Age…

What must I do?

Be sure to SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel and have notifications turned on! We want to see all your comments, reactions and thoughts when the trailer drops. So grab a pint of miruvor and a plate of spicy balrog wings, and be ready to tune in! #LOTRTrailer

Meanwhile, check out the characters which have been revealed so far, here and here. Which will we see in the trailer? Even the wisest cannot tell…

Official Amazon Prime LOTR reveals now include the recent 23 character torsos, a slick title reveal, a single frame image from episode 1 (but not even 2nd Age), a now one-year-old synopsis and a lovely map of wider Arda; all of which may have left Lord of the Rings fans puzzled as to what this billion-dollar TV show is really all about. We asked the fans to list their most burning current questions that we could ask the Showrunners, just 8 months before the show’s debut on September 2, 2022.

Two decades ago, previous Middle-earth director Peter Jackson famously took “20 Questions” direct from the online fandom on AICN; facing innocent inquiries on just about everything. He returned with surprisingly generous answers to assuage the broadest of fan curiosities: offering up the earliest details of what Weta Digital’s MASSIVE software could create and even addressing for the first time “How will Gollum be created?” (we had no idea yet what motion capture miracles Andy Serkis and WETA had in store for us). It was a genuine treat.

In honor of 23 poster images we submit these 23 Questions in that same spirit as twenty years ago.

What weighs heavily on a Ringer’s soul?

  1. Will there be singing in the show? Songs (and poetry) are a big part of Tolkien’s world.
  2. Describe the challenge in writing a show with such extensive established lore – that yet has the least full narrative written by Tolkien himself? How do your writers approach this?
  3. Will we see the various different types of beings within a race (example: Noldor Elves vs. Teleri Elves)?
  4. Where is Sexy Sauron? No, really; where?
  5. Will the production seek to film in other locations globally? 
  6. Why Harfoots? Did Halflings in the 2nd Age seem essential for continuity?
  7. Fans are mainly concerned if this show will be true to the lore – Who is the Lore expert(s) on the show?
  8. Will David Salo return as Languages expert?
  9. What percentage of characters will be Tolkien canon versus newly created for the show?
  10. Looks like this is shaping up to have the most diverse casting of any Tolkien adaptation as the scope of the story expands across the planet of Arda. What do the Showrunners have front-of-mind when presenting these new characters and cultures through a wider lens?
  11. With many thousands of years of tumultuous events in the 2nd Age, when will the main timeline of the show focus on?
  12. Is John Howe involved (beyond the marketing Map)?
  13. Are the Showrunners fans of Tolkien? We know that they wrote a Star Trek screenplay, but would love to know more about their personal tastes as geeks.
  14. Are the accomplished people in the Writer’s Room pre-existing fans themselves?
  15. Why did Amazon decide to leave New Zealand as a filming location, especially when it has become so synonymous with Middle-earth all this time?
  16. Is Weta Workshop involved with physical props, weapons, costumes, and practical sets (not just Weta Digital)?
  17. Is Industrial Light & Magic involved with their “Mandalorian” digital screen set technology?
  18. Does this show connect with P.J.’s previous six films set in Middle-earth?
  19. Was Tolkien scholar/author Tom Shippey’s departure from the production amicable?
  20. End credits songs!!! We had some gems in the form of end credits songs for the movies. With a TV show, might we expect something similar at the end of each season?
  21. The Lurtz vs. Azog thing: will we get more practical makeup effects or more CGI creatures?
  22. The stories of the 2nd Age are notably bereft of magical creatures like Dragons and Balrogs. Is there a desire to include fantastical beasts and (houses of) dragons per the recent wave of poplar TV?
  23. To what degree is Howard Shore involved, since one of the most desired components of this entire enterprise is the returning embrace of his music?

Let’s hope all this recent marketing activity means the fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works have some more information to fuel their anticipation, sooner rather than later!

We welcome our readers here to join the conversation on our Discord and also join us live for TORn Tuesdays every week at 5:00pm Pacific Time on all our social channels.

Much too hasty,
Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway