Ain't It Cool News (
Movie News

Harry travels through the mists of time to review QUEST FOR THE RINGS Fox LOTR Special!!!

From time to time being a geek of extraordinary abilities, I do things that seem... impossible. Impossible only because you exist in a world where you've closed the doors of possibility to that which is... in reality just around the corner from you... right this very second.

How many ancient devices have you seen in an antique shop that you decided against tinkering with for fear of breaking and then having to pay for? Perhaps you don't go into these wondrous little jeweled caves of antiquated treasure, but me... I dig through old Quack Medical Devices... Old WWII radio equipment.... I live for this stuff.

I have traveled through time before with Moriarty and his flower-powered bean bag.... having to piss out the banana flavored jellybean and suffering the most torturous pain imaginable. The experience taught me one thing.... NEVER TIME TRAVEL WITH A SADISTIC OLD FART AGAIN!

Figuring if that bumbling old fool could tool together a time machine, then dagdangit, somebody else has as well. Imagine my joy when I walked into this wondrous Antiques Shop off of Manor Road here in Austin and found.... such delights that I could barely hold back my geekgasm. The place was called N.E. Mercantile.... The man behind the counter was balding with longhair and a beard, he had a tiny son with red hair and then the store keep's wife was a strange Janis Joplin look alike. The man had a 3 sheet of Howard Hawks' THE THING hanging in the back, tons of old pulps and magazines... It was truly amazing. One sheets for TRANSATLANTIC TUNNEL and THE RETURN OF DR X.... boxes and boxes of Golden Age comics, an original Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge in one of his Money Bins painting.... Ahhh, the stuff of dreams. Amongst it all was this old... military looking machine.

There were knobs and levers... switches and wires. There was a mud dobber nest on the side of it, and a dusty identification plate.


It had a bit of rust... but it looked like a cool piece of lab equipment, what with it's vacuum tubes and dials! The owner of the shop traded me out of an old wood burning stove I had back at the house, and I took this machine home with me. It had no electrical plug, but out of the back was some wiring... Being a bit of an electrical engineer (long story about a few years I spent at ITT TECH) I figured out that it was a 361 volt machine... which of course isn't standard, but I happened to have some dialable transformers that made the conversion. I plugged it in... Dialed the knob 7 clicks.... the lights dimmed (I've since learned this was a city wide brown out) And when I looked at the machine the knob was in its original upright location.

Bored with the machine, I returned to my powerbook to find that it was now a sparkly shiny Titanium G-4 and no longer my wonderful black Powerbook G-3.... HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? And then I noticed the date.... November... 2001.... WHAT? HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN? Further curious I decided to hit my Homepage button and there was my site.... Cartuna had a Harry head of me from DELIVERANCE, where my head turned into a pig silently squealing while Moriarty rocked back and forth from behind.... The top story was digitized TV spot for the Second Fox Special on LORD OF THE RINGS that was set to air in a couple of days... 2nd? SECOND? AS IN I'VE MISSED ONE?!?!?!?!!?

I called up Tom Joad and said, "Um hey, do you have that first Fox special on LORD OF THE RINGS?"

"Are you fucking stoned? You were here when I was taping it... I dubbed you off a VCD of it, remember?"

"Oh.... hheheheh... Cool, just choking your chain..."

"Hey, I thought you were supposed to go see the HARRY POTTER preview tonight!"

"Oh, I am... I'm on my way right now! Bye"

Wow, I'm seeing HARRY POTTER tonight... Ahhh, that's where my November 2001 body is.... It was 6:45pm, figuring that the screening would be at 7:30, last about 2 hours... after which I'd probably be going out to dinner that night.... I had a few hours before my other returned.

I rolled my desk out, and looked in the cavity at all my cds, dvds (cool X-FILES SEASON 3!!!!) and vcds... And there in Joad scrawl was LOTR SPECIAL 1 Disc


I slid the vcd into the front loading disc slit of this wondrous G4... And with startling G4 speed the screen went black, then filled with the image of THE ONE RING spinning slowly before a black screen as a voice spoke out, "ONE RING...." well, you know how that goes.... Meanwhile the inscription in the interior of the ring shone brightly... During each spin a different image from LOTR appeared... a shot from Weathertop.... Gandalf on the wagon... The Black Riders hacking apart pillow stuffed beds... These glimpses were split seconds as this entire opening only took about 30-40 seconds.

It ends with strong LORD OF THE RINGS-esque lettering spelling out... QUEST FOR THE RINGS.... Suddenly Liv Tyler welcomes us to the 'Quest for the Rings' as she is moving towards camera we begin to notice the 'one true ring' sitting bare next to her on a pedestal. She comments with a certain amount of... Awe and bemusement about how so much power and trouble could be started with something so small, she then begins to set up the whole basic concept of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, about how the entire series is about trying to destroy and/or possess this tiny ring. Then, rather quickly she introduces us to the concepts of Hobbits, Wizards, Dwarves, Elves, Man and the forces of darkness... We see some designs and maquettes briefly.

That takes a couple of minutes and then we get to our first... SEGMENT... and what I mean by that, is the whole show is set up as a series of segments to introduce, tease and educate the regular person (the uninitiated that knows nothing about Lord of the Rings) and the fan (who they get excited by showing the 'accuracy of the translation') Anyway, this first segment is called HOBBITS & HOBBITON... We hear Liv's voice over basically say, "The Quest begins with the most unlikeliest of heroes..." and then we have Frodo. Elijah takes over, while in Frodo garb, and introduces us to the world of Hobbits... Explaining that Hobbits are a jovial people, living small but happy lives... Elijah shows us his ears and his over-sized feet, which he seems rather proud of... We see clips of the 'Bilbo party' Food being eaten, mugs being raised, the hobbit holes... It is all rather pleasant and happy. He then explains why he is different from the regular Hobbits... how he is adventurous because of his Uncle Bilbo's stories... and how he has no idea that the outside world knows about and covets this shiny ring he has.

Next we are introduced to Merry, Pippin and Sam... basic introductions... There's a quick cut of them running into one another in a field, this segment is really short though, as we cut to

Liv introducing us to the Ring Wraiths aka 'The Black Riders'... We see clips of them riding... being menacing... Liv explains that the 'Black Riders' are the twisted souls of kings enslaved by the 'lessor rings of power'... and we learn they serve the Dark Lord... Sauron....

Next we are introduced to ARAGORN, who 'comes to the aide' of the Hobbits when most needed. He's set up as a man of mystery. Miranda Otto openly challenges any woman to watch this movie and not fall madly, insanely in love with Viggo... and ya know, she's probably right. This is the longest segment yet, as we see and witness Viggo behind the scenes performing many many of his own stunts... It is discussed how Viggo seemingly disappeared and ARAGORN was on set, not an actor... but ARAGORN, that Viggo literally became ARAGORN... We are not introduced to Anduril or Narsil yet... we are not told about 'Strider' or any of that... this segment is about instilling into the hearts of teens, that this is a MANLY MAN with whom to emulate and for the girls to adore.

This segues into the fight at Weathertop… In a waaaaaaay too short sequence we see Aragorn fighting with Five Ringwraiths as they ambush their party. We see the beautiful mountain view and the lookout that they were visiting… I’d say this was all about 40 seconds or so, then they tease us with MINES OF MORIA footage of the door to Balin’s tomb being rammed by orcs… then stupid commercial. There’s a really cool TV spot for HARRY POTTER that is nothing but Quidditch Match stuff (and I don’t know if I spelled that right, but I’ve been instructed that the game in the first Harry Potter movie is a Quidditch sounding word…

As we returned from commercial break, I see a montage of all the different folks that’ll join Frodo and Aragorn and Sam and Pippin and Merry…. You see Gandalf, Boromir, Legolas and Gimli… but again, this is just a tease as we cut to:

Liv Tyler walking over to Narsil… Yup, Narsil… in both pieces… Owning Narsil would absolutely be almost the coolest thing around. She explains a bit of its history, how it was forged during "Middle-earth’s Greatest Need…" and how Aragorn as a descendant of those kings, will arise to wield it once again. Liv then informs us that there will be others to help the hobbits on their perilous task…

We are introduced to the leader of the ‘Company of Nine’, Gandalf the Grey. This is the classic Gandalf… the hat, the gnarled staff… the robes… his sword upon his side. There are quick clips showcasing his power, his anger and wit… and his love for Hobbits. It seems strange to spend so much time on Aragorn in this special and de-emphasize Gandalf… For me, he’s the coolest character… Ian McKellen and Gandalf is like THE COOLEST THING! I understand wanting in the special to appeal to the kids with Aragorn, but Gandalf appeals as an ‘Obi-Wan’ and I can’t believe I said that, because Obi-Wan is such a rip-off of Gandalf. (Which as one talkbacker pointed out was in turn a 'ripoff' of Merlin, which was in turn a ripoff of something I'm not familiar with but most assuredly exists) Just a little more than a minute here as we…

Transition to Boromir as played by Sean Bean. We’re briefly introduced to the concept of Gondor, his mission from his father, and the conflict he has in the concept of destroying the ring which he believes could save his people.

Next is Gimli the Dwarf played by John Rhys-Davies. We see John getting in make up, but strangely nothing about how they make him short. They showcase his fighting style which reminds me a bit of Oliver Reed in those THREE MUSKETEER and FOUR MUSKETEER movies. We’re told he is of a declining once great race of Middle-Earth. Then just as you want to know more…

Then they spend nearly 3 minutes on Orlando Bloom and Legolas! Why? Because they know good and well that Legolas is a hunk… a babe of a man… They show him in the midst of various scenes of combat, as Liv describes his ‘balletic grace’ and his strengths as a lethal archer. We’re introduced to Orlando as a ‘discovery straight out of drama school!’ Orlando dispels the thoughts of him as some sort of fairy soft pansy Elf, but as a powerful immortal… as an ‘assassin’. They showcase his weaponry which is all exquisite and well-crafted!

From this we venture briefly into the MINES OF MORIA… We’re told it is a dangerous cavern brimming with tunnels now housing evil that lurks in the dark. A wonderful scene of Gandalf leading the company with a faint glow from his staff…. Then cut to friggin commercial… I hate the dang commercials…

How many times in my life do I have to see Maggie’s Heart of Texas Dodge ads… I mean, 7 months in the future, I’m still seeing them. Of course this was recorded earlier… Which reminds me, when is this thing airing? Suddenly though I’m distracted because the special starts up with a WAY TOO QUICK MONTAGE of ‘The Bad Guys’. Saruman, The Black Riders, Orcs and an oh to brief shot of the Cave Troll…

At this point Liv removes a cloth over a round object and… IT’S THE PALANTIR!!!!!! She explains what it used for and how it extends his influence… Looking at the Palantir… suhweet!

Through the Palantir we go to Orthanc where we see Christopher Lee’s Saruman the White showing Gandalf his own seeing-stone… and Ian instantly begins protesting its use. We watch as Saruman tries to convince Gandalf to his side… I couldn’t believe they were showing us all of this… and then we see the conjuring of Orcs in the deep tunnels beneath the fortress… Absolutely brutal scenes… Quick cuts for television mind you, but damn I want to see the movie now.

This takes us to the section on ORCS… We spend a few minutes here learning about the history of the creatures… where they come from… all by the book sort of things. We see the application of the full body suits, their armor, weaponry, make-up… everything. This is really really cool. The designs are fantastic. We get a look at rows after rows of suits on hangers at Weta Workshop… Way cool!

The next part is a bit about the ONE RING itself. Where it came from, how it was forged, what it does to those that possess it and what it means if Sauron were to possess it again!

With music and editing things get decidedly more intense, and we get a just under a minute of dire things commencing… Armies marching… the Fellowship in peril… and CUT TO COMMERCIAL…. AAAAAArrrrrgh!

After a new annoying Taco Bell ad, a Jiffy Lube ad and a weather warning in Austin… the show continues with a thing on the different races that exist in Middle Earth…. Humans, Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits…

Liv shows us Galadriel’s Mirror. We learn about the Mirror’s ability to show visions of the future, present and past… Liv tells us that the stories we are going to see take place at a turning point in the history of Middle-Earth… that Elves’ time is coming to an end and how if good wins over Sauron, it will become a time for Man…

To show us the difference we begin with Elves… We hear some of that beautiful Celtic sounding (to my ear) Elvish language being spoken. We learn about their extended lifespans, that they don’t sleep but do have waking dreams. We meet Galadriel in Lothlorien… the beautiful kingdom that is up in the trees… beautiful soft bluish whitish light illuminates amongst the trees. Here we spend time with Orlando Bloom, Liv and Cate… Believe it or not, I didn’t see ELROND in this sequence… I was shocked! And no Rivendell shots! What’s up with that?

Next we spend very little time with Dwarves. They stress the Dwarves’ mining background… They discuss the hostility between Dwarves and Elves and illustrate it with a bit of the early back-n-forth between our Elf and Dwarf of the Fellowship…

Next is Humans… who we are told are the most populous race in Middle-Earth besides Orcs. We are briefly introduced to the men of Gondor as well as the Horsemen known as the Rohans… We see Theoden’s tents… Quite cool!

And before we cut to commercial we get the whole spiel about how if good is to triumph, they must put aside their differences to defeat Sauron… And here we see Gimli and Legolas working together… COMMERCIALS…

I went to use the restroom and almost had an accident as I hear ORC DRUMS pounding… I rush back and play it over again… Oh man, the drums are so concussive… imagine it like a rhythmic rumbling of thunder… VERY COOL AND DARK… We see glimpses of the starts of various battles… so quick that I couldn’t for certain tell which battles they were.

But soon we see Liv holding up STING and Frodo’s Mithril Shirt that Bilbo gave him. She tells us of the fantastic value and importance of Mithril…. Btw the shirt is gorgeous… it is so beautiful. Very hard to describe, but once you see it… it shimmers very unreal… but real…

Next we begin to see the impossible… How so few built and forged so many suits of armor… how the weapons were made… how the chainmail was done… This sequence makes ya want to beat red hot metal into a pair of pants! Heheh…

Then we see the Horse training and the building of their armor… How they got an entire ‘army’ of horseback riders to gallop in unison across the plains and mountains! BEAUTIFUL and a royal pain in the ass…

Next on oh too brief sequence about the different fighting styles used in the film… How elves fight differently from dwarves who fight differently than Man who fight differently than goblin and… well you get the idea! Personally I love how Gimli fights…. It’s the coolest in my opinion!

STUPID COMMERCIALS!!! Why can’t an hour be an entire hour of stuff… why do we need commercials? We should just see footage! Nothing but footage!

Next we come back for the final segment. Which starts with Liv next to Galadriel’s mirror, which shimmers as she introduces us to a 2-3 minute clip from the film… It is a sequence in the Mines of Moria… starting with Pippin accidentally alerting evil that they are in Balin’s tomb… Gandalf responds to Pippin furiously when suddenly they begin to hear a deep low bass sound from deep below… They begin barring the doors, Aragorn unsheathes Narsil, Legolas says, "ORCS!", Gimli readies his axes…

I’ll let how far it goes remain a surprise. As the episode draws to a close, Liv reminds that the film will open on 10,000 screens worldwide… teases the next special coming in a few weeks… and … well I’ll let this be a surprise as well…

Overall, I’d say this was a pretty damn fine special, it doesn’t set the room afire, but ya know… It was way cool and actually showed more than I was expecting. And I can’t believe we have a second one coming before the film is released! I can’t think of a time that a film had 2 different one hour specials on Fox prior to release… has their been a case, not just on Fox but on anything?

Liv was quite nice, but personally… I’d of preferred Ian McKellen or Ian Holm… but I suppose that they are aiming at a ‘younger’ demographic…. Sigh…

I was all set to go through the behind the scenes VCD of PLANET OF THE APES when I heard the front door open. I heard my father and me arrive. I watched as I saw myself walking into the bathroom next to my room… Damn, it looks like I gained some weight? Or maybe that’s how big I am, but damn I look huge in person. Suddenly the two of us are in my room… the other me smiles… and pokes me…. Then suddenly the G4 is gone and I am in my room with the ol G3… The VCD is no more… and I have only my memory of that which I saw. I know… an unbelievable story… I can only hope you remember this when you see the special!

The weird part is this… In doing research yesterday, I called some folks I know at CAA and they told me that apparently, Liv has only just now entered into negotiations to do this first 1 hour special… I wonder if reporting on it before she performs it… will change the performance? That’d be weird! What an interesting time travel dilemma? Hmmmmmm…..

For all of those that don't believe this story... keep a copy of it... watch the QUEST FOR THE RING special when it comes out later this year.... and then.... then you'll see. I've already been contacted by Ardeen Entertainment, which is currently making the special wanting to know how I could know what I know and how I could see that which they are currently making in its finished form... My answer? Time Machine. Non-believers... I mourn for you...

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus