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This originally started life in 2008, when Guillermo del Toro was still at the reigns and speculation was rife about how, and at times if, the film would turn out. And then Peter Jackson took over, and it became two films. And then three films. Complete with Martin Freeman, and Benedict Cumberbatch twice over, and sexy dwarves and rabbits pulling sledges, and glorious Stephen Fry. Our cup runneth over, as did the rewrites of this.
It also started life, truth be told, as a radio play, which meant more rewrites. Because some things just aren't as funny to read to yourself as they are to hear out loud.
The end result, I hope, manages to make you giggle, if only a little. Or chortle manfully, if that's your thing. Or at least feel you didn't waste the last fifteen minutes of your life. Because if you're reading this this then I'm hoping that a) You love The Hobbit as much as I do, b) are looking forward to the films as much as I am, and c) are willing to poke fun at the whole business nonetheless.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin…
The world has changed.
Intelligence, valour and nobility are wasted; travesties made and circulated for the general consumption. We Elves might be egotistic, paranoid and slightly xenophobic, but I would wager that we at least would create a global network that would not spawn such atrocities as Cumberotters.
But! I am not here to talk about you. Of course not! I'm here to introduce the films. And these are not films about Men, thank the Valar! Or at least, not much. They are films about a Hobbit. And if you have paid no heed to the words of that exception to your race, Professor John Ronal Reul Tolkien, and do not know what such a creature is, I will reveal all.
Hobbits are far shorter than Men, and even shorter than Dwarves. The species, rather than the Men of short stature. Thus they are of extremely short stature. Hobbits enjoy smoking, eating, drinking and not doing much other than those three activities, unless there is a prospect of throwing something at something else. They generally called Men 'The Big Folk', and Men generally called them 'those short buggers who keep eating all the time, where do they put it all, and smoking all the weed as well, it must stunt their growth or something'. According to various dubious tales they have absurdly cute pointed ears, curly hair and a fondness for tweed, but one thing all agree upon is the state of their feet. And that they're short.
Why do hobbits have such big hairy feet? Who knows? Such questions have occurred throughout the entire span of the existence world. Why do rabbits have shrubs growing in their appendixes? What was someone, if anyone, thinking when they made the duckbilled platypus? Where do baby orcs come from? I mean, did Sauron have a breeding program going, or are they just a boil-in-the-bag thing? Are there actually any Dwarf women, or do they rely on asexual reproduction? Why do Elves have pointy ears? No, seriously, why do we have pointy ears? I'm honestly curious about this. What possible evolutionary advantage could that supply us? Providing, of course, that you believe in evolution, and not in a troop of omnipotent spirits who really like musicals.
Well, anyway, these short, oddly proportioned beings have long since decamped below the ground, to escape being exterminated from the heinous crime of being short and oddly proportioned. Even in these admittedly more tolerant days the hobbits still refuse to come up for air, since the Tolkien estate, knowing a windfall when they saw it, had trademarked the name of the species, leaving Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts to avoid being sued by using other words. Thus the hobbits had to fight off human role-players who kept calling them Halflings with a stick, clearly decided it wasn't worth the effort, and haven't been seen since.
However, the humble Hobbit still endured in popular culture as all oddly proportioned and rarely seen creatures seem to do, like Bigfoot, the Yeti and the Mongolian Death Worm.
This story begins, then, far off in the days when the sweet earth bore few scars from Men's tools and wars, before elves were reduced to working like Dwarves at the North Pole and dwarves were hired to pretend to be elves in Father Christmas's grotto, and humans dressed up like both so they could run around beating each other over the head with foam swords for hours.
Over to you, Bilbo.
Many thanks for that introduction, Lord Elrond. I think. Now, before the films start properly, there seems to be some sort of contractual requirement that we have a whispering prologue bit, and then a whole bit before the titles that happened a long time before the actual plot. This prologue will inevitably be flashed back to, but with enough action that at least you're paying attention and won't say 'Wait, when did this happen, again?' or something.
And who are we to break with tradition?
So, once there was a tall and lonely mountain, and once a great red wicked worm with an ungodly beautiful voice attacked it. There were many flames and many crashes, as the dragon was winning this decidedly one sided battle and the mountain - let's be honest here - wasn't doing a whole lot to fight back. There were many screams from the various dwarves inside the mountain, as they tried desperately to avoid being turned into charcoal or red squishy messes beneath crushed rock, and generally weren't very successful. There were many close-ups of these rather nasty failures, because the audience likes that sort of thing.
Yes you do, don't deny it.
It was, I am reliably informed, like releasing Godzilla on a bunch of tiny screaming Japanese. Oh, the humanity. Or dwarfanity. But mostly profanity.
But lo, there was hope still, for some brave few escaped with only minor singeing. As well as PTSD/an inclination to eat their meat rare from now on/a lifelong aversion to lizards. Among those few was a certain dwarf whose image had rather dominated the merchandising of the film, and whose actor had rather dominated the dreams and personal blogs of a fair percentage of the audience.
Unfortunately for that percentage, though, he was only twenty-five in this prologue and played by another actor, so they needs must wait a little longer for the sexy dreadlocks.
Thorin was currently wondering whether he should class this as the most exciting day of his life, or the most traumatizing day of his life period. As he watched the general carnage being carried out his tiny brain eventually decided that it was the latter, and he howled accordingly in a heart rending manner.
No one could really blame him. The Lonely Mountain wasn't exactly the most endearing view in Middle Earth, even if it was home - but the addition of the enormous red dragon at present fierily going to town on it didn't add to the picturesque value in the slightest.
Those dwarves lucky enough to be (a) outside and (b) a far enough distance away when the dragon hit the ground that they weren't immediately chargrilled, stood and watched for lack of anything else to do. They winced on occasion, with the odd wail of despair or moan of agony thrown in to add some variety. Also to drown out that one annoying, if extremely tuneful, wail that the only female dwarf present insisted with increasing annoyance wasn't coming from her, stop asking me that, all right?
"What are we going to do now?" someone asked at one point.
"We could go and throw ourselves on the generosity of the good folk of Dale," someone else suggested.
As a dwarf, they turned to look at the City of Dale, which had been crushed, set on fire, flooded and generally chewed on.
They looked at each other.
"Ah, no, maybe not, probably not a good time," they chorused.
Thorin pondered, between wipings of his nose, on whether it would make him look like a complete wimp if he asked where his grandfather and father were. Since they were the King under the Mountain and the King under the Mountain To Be, it was a perfectly valid concern. If his father and grandfather were out of the picture, did that made him King under the Mountain? And if so, was he a complete bastard and a generally horrible Dwarf-being for pondering a tad too long on that last bit?
His grandfather and father actually showed up a few hours later in the middle of the argument/pity party the rest of the survivors had got going, a bit scorched but perfectly alive.
"How'd you get out of there, honoured dad?" he asked, desperately hoping he didn't sound disappointed. At all.
"That's not important right now, son," Thrain replied, patting out the last smouldering bits of himself and conspicuously patting his pocket.
"Uh, yes it is, sir," said some dwarf Thorin didn't know. "It could be an intrinsically vital plot point that plays a crucial role in your son's emotional growth, development and eventual plans to reclaim the mountain and take epic revenge upon the dragon."
Apparently nearly getting cooked hadn't done wonders for his father's not-even-good-at-the-best-of-times-temper. "Shut it, before I break your face."
"Yes, your highness. Sorry, your highness."
Thorin was about to ask if his mother had gotten out, before realising that he wasn't actually sure he'd ever seen a female Dwarf. (Aside from the one who was still protesting she wasn't having a waily sing-song at their expense.) Did he actually have a mother, or did he dig his way out of his father's forehead with a pre-birth pickaxe? Uncertain, decided to bring it up at a later date.
He never did.
"We need to get moving," Thror, his grandfather, called out to everyone. "Smaug will soon be hungry again, and-"
"Who?" asked another dwarf, who didn't seem to have learned from the previous example of the first dwarf who'd questioned royalty.
"The sodding dragon that's just barbequed Dale and is currently squatting in our mountain, who d'you think?"
The second dwarf tilted his head in puzzlement. "What, did it come up and introduce itself to you or something?"
"Funnily enough, no," Thror said, strapping a spare axe to his back. "But when he got in through the gate, the fact that he was chasing down everyone still left alive while shouting 'Flee, puny dwarves, flee before the mighty Smaug' was a bit of a clue."
"Say what you will, but Smaug does have a lovely voice," Thrain mused, suddenly thoughtful.
Thror gave his son a look, shook his head and edged away slightly from him before going on. "Uh, the point is, he'll get hungry again. Then he'll go looking for food. I'd prefer not to be in the area where he's looking."
"But - but our mountain! All our stuff!" Thorin shouted. "We can't leave it all to get destroyed!"
"Ah, if only that were true," Thrain said, firmly back to earth now. "Alas, our precious treasure will most likely be gathered together, and the foul dragon will sleep upon it as you or I would upon a mattress! Or possibly a really glittery chaise long, like some pansy Elf."
Thorin cringed. Oh, the horror.
Thror added, absentmindedly, "And he will most likely devour all our dead friends and comrades and anyone who is still alive in our home which has become their tomb. Though it will give us some breathing space while we get out of immediate range, so there is that," he went on, more cheerfully than he really should be.
Thorin cringed some more. Oh, the insult!
Thrain joined in with the cringing now. "Also, there wasn't time to grab our most priceless and beautiful and generally irreplaceable treasure, the Arkenstone, so he's got that too."
Young Thorin felt the twin fingers of revenge and destiny poke him hard, right between the shoulder blades.
It felt tingly.
He looked back at The Lonely Mountain, one last time – not counting the number of times he'd look at it over the next few days as they fled, there not being much else to look at in this rather flat corner of the world - then down at his clenched fist.
A single dwarfly tear ran down his cheek, as yet ungraced by a beard.
He breathed hard and swore an oath, a terrible oath, the oath that would stay with him throughout his life. "Oh, I will kill him."
"Yes, yes, I'm sure you will, lad," Thror reassured him, pretending to pay attention. "For now, let's get going before Smaug decides he still wants to play 'Hunt the Dwarf'".
And thus the survivors legged it, while the wretched CGI dragon firmly ensconced himself all the way inside the mountain, with a triumphant, sexy roar that echoed across the lake and the land.
171 years passed. These adventure things sometimes take time to really get going, especially if the people involved can live to well over three hundred. They tend to get side-tracked with getting beheaded by goblins, or being imprisoned and tortured in underground dungeons, raving about whether they're really only plot points in the grand scheme of life and the story arc.
Also, the dungeon just so happened to be run by a certain dark shadow which was making its way back into the forests of the world, three guesses who. Thanks to the numerous opportunities to tie these films into those other films that made all of the money, prepare for Sauron to be the sort of main villain again, and to be placated by just how very lovely (and familiar) his voice sounds.
So anyway, thanks to procrastination, decapitation, incarceration, traumatic amnesia and the return of evil incarnate, our story, and the main plot of the films, starts in a little garden in Hobbiton on the Hill, where a hobbit (big shocker there) called Bilbo Baggins was having a midlife crisis…
"You were fifty, Bilbo, that's hardly a midlife crisis," Frodo said, looking up from reading the notes at this point. "That's more like their equivalent of thirty."
"Frodo, dear boy, you know that. I know that. Probably the more well informed of the audience will know that. But we can still exploit the stereotype to get a laugh anyway."
"…Right." Frodo only rolled his eyes a little as he got back to reading, wondering how they both knew so much about the concept of midlife crises anyway. He also did his best to ignore the title 'The Hobbit: A Long Expected Prequel' that had appeared out of nowhere and was poking him hard in the back.