The lord of the small screen

20:08, Jan 09 2013

In addition to all the TV I mentioned on Tuesday, I continued a Philpott Family tradition by watching The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy - this year joined by my fiancée and my daughter, who had never actually sat through all three films before.

Over the course of three mornings, as we ate breakfast (and second breakfast, and elevensies), and we watched The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. To top it off, on day four, we went to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at the movie theatre*. The Shire theme song is still rattling around my head.

One thing I did notice this year, however, is how many stars of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have had major success on television. In fact, so many have made their name on TV, both before and after working for Sir PJ, that I was able to make a pretty nifty Top 10 list - here is my list of the 10 Best Shows Starring a Rings or Hobbit Actor:

Game of Thrones, starring Sean Bean (Boromir, son of Denethor)
Bean also played Sharpe in all those telemovies with names like Sharpe's Revenge, Sharpe's Waterloo and Sharpe's Gesticulation (I only made up one of those). But his best small-screen role is as Eddard Stark ... even if (spoiler alert) his unceremonious beheading near the end of Season 1 made everyone stop and ask why Sean Bean keeps dying in stuff.

Lost, starring Dominic Monaghan (Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck)
I like the idea that Peter Jackson was nestling in for an episode of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates when he spotted Monaghan (starring alongside Patricia "Hyacinth Bucket" Routledge, no less), and nodded as he started to picture him in the role of the mischievous hobbit. Monaghan also starred in mystery show FlashForward. The less said about that, the better.

Deadwood, starring Brad Dourif (Grima Wormtongue)
Deadwood is one of those shows which is good, but not quite good enough to get into discussions about the best shows of the cable television era. Dourif was great, though - and I also remember he was brilliant as Luther Lee Boggs in the excellent X Files episode Beyond the Sea, among many other television guest appearances.


Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug) and Martin Freeman (young Bilbo Baggins)
Cumberbatch and Freeman are perfectly cast as Holmes and Watson in this Steven Moffat-produced reimagining of the sleuth's cases. Freeman has quite a storied television career (as we'll see further down the list), while Cumberbatch has tended more toward movies - but keep an eye out for him on Parade's End, hopefully coming soon to SoHo.

Doctor Who, starring Sylvester McCoy (Radagast The Brown)
McCoy played the Seventh Doctor between 1987 and 1989 (plus a couple of appearances since). I bet the TARDIS was never pulled by a dozen rabbits, though.

Flight of the Conchords, starring Bret McKenzie (Figwit/Lindir)
McKenzie was the subject of an internet campaign after he was spotted in the background of the council scene in The Fellowship of the Ring, with his character dubbed Figwit (which stands for Frodo Is Great, Who Is That?). Jackson responded to the campaign by bringing him back for The Return of the King and again in The Hobbit, as the character Lindir.

Fringe, starring John Noble (Denethor, steward of Gondor)
The fact that Noble has never received any awards recognition, not even a nomination, for his performance as Walter Bishop on Fringe is one of the biggest disgraces in Hollywood awards history. Noble also appeared in Aussie shows All Saints, Home & Away and Pirate Islands. To quote his character Denethor, when it comes to watching Home & Away, "Flee! Fleeee for your liiiivessss!!!"

The Office UK, starring Martin Freeman (young Bilbo Baggins)
Aside from Ricky Gervais' performance as awkward boss David Brent, Freeman's Tim Canterbury was the best part of the influential Brit-com. Freeman also played a sex scene body double in Love Actually, and he has guest roles in Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost films Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and upcoming The World's End.

Outrageous Fortune, starring Robyn Malcolm (Morwen)
Okay, I'm pushing it a little with this one: Malcolm was only on-screen for about two minutes total in The Two Towers (about 1 per cent of the theatrical release, or 0.8 per cent of the extended edition). Actually, never mind Fortune, I would be interested to know how many actors have appeared in both Shortland Street and either The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit trilogy. Does anyone have that information? Would it be more or fewer than 100 actors? I'm guessing more.

Wilfred, starring Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins)
I don't even know if this quirky comedy has played anywhere in New Zealand (I don't think it has). But I think it's funny that Elijah Wood's most memorable roles, post-Rings, were as a weird assassin guy in Sin City and as a depressed man who tries to kill himself in the opening scene of Wilfred, then sees his neighbour's dog as a guy in a dog costume.

What do you think are the best TV shows featuring an actor from either The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit?

(*) My second viewing, this time in 2D ... and I enjoyed The Hobbit much, much more in 2D than in High Frame Rate 3D. In fact, I think that I'll probably only bother with the 2D editions of the second and third instalments.

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