May 30, 2001

Let Tolkien be Tolkien
Trudy S.

The idea of a Middle-earth based TV series sends shivers down my spine--and not pleasant ones. What bothers me is the open-ended nature of a TV series; most go on and on until the ratings drop--or until someone decides to quit while they're ahead.

So, what would that mean for a series set in Middle-earth? Someone would have to write new stories to be made into scripts, and that would most likely mean adding new characters, etc. That's what gives me chills.

I'm not against fan fiction--I've written some myself. But that, by definition, is unpublishable and is written for the fans' private enjoyment.

Most importantly, fan fiction doesn't create actual new history or characters for Middle-earth, because fans can--and regularly do--write stories with scenarios that contradict each other. No one is saying, "This is what really happened."

On the other hand, a TV series for the public would have to have its "bible" just as any series does, setting out events, places, characters, etc. that would remain consistent. For me, that's just a little too close to tampering with Middle-earth's actual history and inhabitants.  

L. Frank Baum lost the rights to Oz just about as soon as he created it, and many authors have written Oz books since then. Disney has gotten its hands on everything regarding the Hundred Acre Wood except the original stuffed Winnie, and A.A. Milne wouldn't recognize the storylines they've added. A corporation now owns C.S. Lewis's literary rights and is talking about commissioning new Narnia stories.

Do you see a pattern here?  Middle-earth is one of the few secondary creations that still belongs to its original creator. I hope that doesn't change.