We've got some new details regarding Amazon's upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series. Much like Peter Jackson's extended editions of the movie trilogy, the show's first season could be a very long haul, as one of the members of the creative team is saying it will be 20 episodes. So get ready for one heck of a binge session.
This information comes from J.R.R. Tolkien expert Tom Shippey, who Amazon has brought on board to consult on the show. Shippey was interviewed after the company recently revealed the full creative team responsible for bringing Tolkien's epic to the small screen. During the interview, when asked about possible shooting locations, Shippey had this to say.
"The exact locations are of course uncertain and it could well be several. The shooting itself does not take place chronologically, but is oriented towards the locations. Logically, you try to bundle all the scenes that take place in one location and film them so that you have it done and don't have to return to that place several times. But this also implies that everything has to be clear at the start of filming, you have to know the end. There's supposed to be 20 episodes for the first season. So until they've decided what the end is going to be, they can't start filming."
This is, to say the least, a pretty major development. For most cable or streaming shows, the standard has become eight to ten episodes, with some going as high as 13. But 20 is more like a procedural drama on network television. And that's why this is such a stunning number. We're not talking about an episode of CSI. This is going to be a huge budget, prestige fantasy drama that will presumably be massive in scope.
Details, in terms of what story will be told, remain a bit mysterious. However, the show will take place during the so-called Second Age in Tolkien's mythology. So it won't be a re-telling of what has been adapted for the screen previously. Speaking further, Tom Shippey revealed some details on how the story will be shaped.
"Amazon has a relatively free hand when it comes to adding something, since, as I said, very few details are known about this time span. The Tolkien Estate will insist that the main shape of the Second Age is not altered. Sauron invades Eriador, is forced back by a Númenorean expedition, returns to Númenor.
There he corrupts the Númenoreans and seduces them to break the ban of the Valar. All this, the course of history, must remain the same. But you can add new characters and ask a lot of questions, like: What has Sauron done in the meantime? Where was he after Morgoth was defeated? Theoretically, Amazon can answer these questions by inventing the answers, since Tolkien did not describe it. But it must not contradict anything which Tolkien did say. That's what Amazon has to watch out for. It must be canonical, it is impossible to change the boundaries which Tolkien has created, it is necessary to remain 'tolkienian.'"
Tom Shippey also clarified that the Tolkien estate can overrule Amazon on any creative changes. The creative team is led by JD Payne and Patrick McKay (Star Trek 4) who serve as showrunners. Producers include Bruce Richmond (Game of Thrones), Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), Gene Kelly (Boardwalk Empire), Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad), Jason Cahill (The Sopranos) and Justin Doble (Stranger Things). J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), is set to direct the first two episodes. Clearly, Amazon isn't messing around in terms of talent. And it's said the show could cost $1 billion, when it's all said and done. We'll be sure to keep you posted as further details are made available. This news comes to us via the German Tolkien Society.