Rings of Power is More Babylon 5 Than Tolkien (and Maybe It's a Good Thing)

Rings of Power is More Babylon 5 Than Tolkien (and Maybe It's a Good Thing)
Image credit: Legion-Media

When The Rings of Power, the newest addition to the epic Lord of the Rings spin-offs, came out earlier this year, it instantly grabbed the attention of audiences around the world.

However, after the first season aired, many fans were left unsatisfied with what they had watched, as they felt it didn't resemble Tolkien at all.

The Rings of Power is based on The Lord of the Rings novel and its appendices written by none other than J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien's high fantasy works achieved so much popularity that he was dubbed the "father" of modern fantasy literature.

So, it's no wonder that his writing has inspired many derivatives, including films, video games, and music. And now, this list is topped off with television. Needless to say, when the release of the series was first announced, the expectations were very high.

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The events in the series take place thousands of years before what happened in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The viewers were intended to see all important developments of Middle-earth's Second Age, such as the forging of the Rings of Power, the alliance between Men and Elves to defeat Sauron, and much more. And the premise looked promising.

However, after having watched the first season, fans weren't happy, and the internet soon started overflowing with criticism. Fans blasted the characters, dialogue, and the show's pacing. But most importantly, they felt like the storytelling is so un-Tolkien-like that, dare we say, it doesn't even seem like Tolkien fan fiction.

That's not to say it doesn't have its moments, of course. But this is not a series for someone who wants Tolkien-esque fantasy in their sci-fi.

People also thought this series doesn't give respect to the lore and even breaks away from the genre in places. In fact, some say it resembles the 1994 space opera Babylon 5 rather than the Tolkien books people grew up reading. However, that might not be an entirely bad thing.

Sure, Babylon 5 may be known as one of the cheapest-looking sci-fi shows of all time, especially when it comes to CGI and picture quality. But it was also one of the first shows to bring continuous serialized stories to our screens. It's the greatest "give it time" kind of series where everything merges into a bigger story than you initially expected. Besides, the main reason why the quality suffered so much was that they had a tiny budget to work with.

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Having said that, we do have to note it's a little ironic that The Rings of Power received criticism for its visual representation, as many viewers said it resembled more a video game rather than a top-end production. After all, it's reportedly the most expensive television series ever made, with its five-season undertaking being worth at least $1 billion.

What the shows have in common is they both seem to have a liking for grandiose expressions, sentimental elements, and a big story. But there's also an overabundance of those same things. Yet the reason why people kept coming back to watch Babylon 5 was because the characters and storytelling really did hold up.

So, it's clear there's much more work to be done when it comes to bringing Tolkien's work to life in such a way that would pay homage to him and please the fans. Perhaps, if the show's writers and creators integrate Tolkien's storytelling style and gain a deeper understanding of the thematic core of Middle-earth, they could have a chance at redeeming themselves in the next season. We'll have to wait and see!