Teeth like swords, claws like spears
December 12, 2014 2:46 AM   Subscribe

 
Not a lot of episodes left. At least they're doing some cool stuff in their last shows. Like earlier this week, his unusually special guest took over the Word for him.

The Colbert Report has been a landmark show, the sharpest current events show on TV. I'm not quite sure yet what we'll do without it. Of course many have pointed out, rightly, that John Oliver's show on HBO is damn good, and not as afraid to look deeper into an issue. I think it's safe to say that it's a positive direction to move in.

But still, in terms of both performance and improvisation, Colbert is a genius. I hope his late night network show uses his talents as well as his satirical news program. Somehow I doubt that it will....
posted by JHarris at 3:08 AM on December 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


At least he's still got time to put on the hard sell for some Hollywood product.
posted by fairmettle at 3:22 AM on December 12, 2014


That picture of Smaug wearing a motion capture suit was genius.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 4:12 AM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


At least he's still got time to put on the hard sell for some Hollywood product.

At the risk of stating the glaringly obvious, talk shows are dependent upon guests who have a product to advertise. In return, the guest provides content for the producers of the show to incorporate into an entertaining package which will appeal to viewers of that show.
posted by Optamystic at 4:26 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I love that we can now have DRAGONS on talk shows.
posted by egypturnash at 4:39 AM on December 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


At the risk of stating the glaringly obvious, talk shows are dependent upon guests who have a product to advertise.

Aren't they just dependent on having interesting guests? It just so happens that as talk shows evolved the marketing types realized that if you time guest booking just before they are about to sell something, the talk show spot becomes a free advertising opportunity and it works out for both the show and the guest. Hence the system became entrenched. But the guest does not need to have anything to sell. Many celebrities and interesting people wouldn't mind being invited for an appearance on a national show.
posted by Gyan at 5:00 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


(So was His Cumberbatchy-ness actually around for that interview, or was it just some technological wizardry?)
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:03 AM on December 12, 2014


This is not Smaug. I'm sad that this is the environment in which kids will now get their first exposure to The Hobbit. (I know Colbert is not for kids.)

I don't want to be all "in my day", but my father read with me a grandly illustrated version when I was very young, and Smaug is a character that has some gravity for me. I find this representation of him just awful. Genuinely surprised to find myself so grouchy about it.
posted by distorte at 5:03 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed the clip. For me, though, the definitive Smaug is Richard Boone's rendition from Rankin-Bass' 1977 animated production. Which told the story in 77 minutes -- did you hear that, Peter Jackson?
posted by Gelatin at 5:41 AM on December 12, 2014 [14 favorites]


For me, the best part of the interview was finding out that Smaug ate the ladies of The View. Or maybe it was Cumberbatch. Really tough call, that one.
posted by Cecilia Rose at 5:51 AM on December 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


It really bothered me to a strange degree that his right front leg kept appearing in the shot, though there was clearly no reasonable place it could be coming from.
posted by 256 at 6:23 AM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


At least he's still got time to put on the hard sell for some Hollywood product.

You do know that Colbert is just about the biggest Tolkien maniac on two feet, right? Yeah, presumably some money changed hands, but it's equally safe to assume that for Colbert this was a personal triumph that was at least as sweet as any award he's ever won. Any cash was probably gravy.

I find this representation of him just awful. Genuinely surprised to find myself so grouchy about it.

Not the biggest LOTR fan, but I feel your pain. When I came out of the first Star Trek reboot movie, I wanted to drop JJ Abrams into a warp core. I'm STILL bitter!

Even as a not-quite-LOTR-fan, I did think the segment trivialized the character somewhat and I can see how a true fan could be hopping mad. But at the same time, it's such a funny idea that I couldn't help but be charmed by it. I sure wish they'd done one of these for Gollum. ("Nasty, tricksy Colbert!")
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:26 AM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


If you're upset that a CGI dragon on a comedy talkshow has damaged your impression of a dragon from a book, you might want to sit down and reconsider for a bit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:30 AM on December 12, 2014 [29 favorites]


If you're upset that a CGI dragon on a comedy talkshow has damaged your impression of a dragon from a book, you might want to sit down and reconsider for a bit.

It wasn't long ago that everyone here was rending their clothes over that Peanuts film trailer. People form emotional connections to stories, are upset when the stories/characters are miscast. It might be trivial in the scheme of things, but I'd be surprised if there is not some story or artwork for the majority of people that is held a little dearly. bla bla Star Wars
posted by distorte at 7:04 AM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't want to be all "in my day", but my father read with me a grandly illustrated version when I was very young, and Smaug is a character that has some gravity for me. I find this representation of him just awful. Genuinely surprised to find myself so grouchy about it.

Tolkien's own illustrated version of Smaug (though faithful to contemporary medieval interpretations) didn't live up to my expectations formed from a picture-less edition of The Hobbit. Childhood imagination is more powerful than any CGI rendering program or painting kit.

But Stephen Colbert is clearly having the time of his nerdy life in this segment.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:13 AM on December 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


This was clearly in the spirit of actors revealing themselves to be a bit like but not entirely like the characters they're known for, especially in the sense of being corrupted and spoiled by Hollywood's specific culture. Colbert himself, of course, being the prime example of that, which is one of the things that makes this clip so great.
posted by localroger at 7:15 AM on December 12, 2014


distorte: It might be trivial in the scheme of things, but I'd be surprised if there is not some story or artwork for the majority of people that is held a little dearly.
Which doesn't mean that isn't a bit precious.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:24 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Michael Hague's illustrations will always provide my images of The Hobbit.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:26 AM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Tolkien's own illustrated version of Smaug

But that Smaug is adorable! I want to pet him and bring him home for hot chocolate and let him live on a little gold pile at the foot of my bed and snuggle him when he has bad dreams. Oh yes, who's a big fierce powerful dragon? You are! You are, my little Smauglet! Oh yes you are, you're so scary! Look at that smoke coming out of your nostrils, who's a good dragon, then? You are! Yes you are!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:31 AM on December 12, 2014 [21 favorites]


I will give him pieces of gold and precious gems as treats when he is good and invite other dragons over for his birthday party.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:36 AM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]




But that Smaug is adorable! I want to pet him and bring him home for hot chocolate and let him live on a little gold pile at the foot of my bed and snuggle him when he has bad dreams.

I feel exactly the same way about the current Smaug, or any character with Cumberbatch's voice, really.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:51 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


SPOILERS: Now at this point in his career what with constant attack by Trolls, Republicans and RepubliTrolls, Stephen is certainly wearing a totally flame retardant suit 24/7. (Can't you just imagine being a burglar that wakes him in his bed wearing that suit?) But being in that audience that particular day certainly sucked.
posted by sammyo at 8:33 AM on December 12, 2014


I have to say, the Bilbo movies do nothing for me at all, but those clips of the dragon burninating the village in expensive CGI glory seem to make them worthwhile.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 8:37 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Which told the story in 77 minutes -- did you hear that, Peter Jackson?

The Peter Jackson "Lord of the Rings" film are fantastic. The Peter Jackson "Hobbit" films are dreadful fan-fiction. It still surprises me that the same person was responsible for both of them.
posted by jbickers at 8:45 AM on December 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


The Peter Jackson "Lord of the Rings" film are fantastic. The Peter Jackson "Hobbit" films are dreadful fan-fiction. It still surprises me that the same person was responsible for both of them.

Jackson has ascended to a point where no one is willing to tell him, "No, that's stupid. Don't do that." It happened right around the time he was figuring how many endings he was going to put on Return of the King.
posted by Etrigan at 9:01 AM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


The only part that bothered me a bit was that the voicework (as with that weird arm 256 mentioned upthread) kind of trivialized the character - the actor didn't quite keep up the same level of intensity and depth as in the movie.

That really is a minor gripe, but I'm really into voice acting so I notice these things.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:02 AM on December 12, 2014


MondayI am taking the day to go to the nerd showing of all three movies. This will be the first time I will have seen any of them. I expect the day to taste of disappointment and popcorn.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:02 AM on December 12, 2014


I don't want to be all "in my day", but my father read with me a grandly illustrated version when I was very young, and Smaug is a character that has some gravity for me. I find this representation of him just awful. Genuinely surprised to find myself so grouchy about it.

It's often disappointing to see your favorite characters interviews as the actors they actually are. I could never enjoy Sliders again after seeing Jerry O'Connell interviewd on Letterman.
posted by maryr at 9:17 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


the actor didn't quite keep up the same level of intensity and depth as in the movie.'

Dude, most people are a little more relaxed and goofy during talk show appearances than they are when burning down cities and viciously guarding their mountains of gold.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:21 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean, Colbert himself will tell you, don't confuse Smaug the character with Smaug the dragon.
posted by maryr at 9:24 AM on December 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


It still surprises me that the same person was responsible for both of them.

I share your surprise.

As a lifelong Tolkien fan, I had basically zero problems with how Jackson adapted LotR to the big screen. Seeing all three in a row in a theater (FotR/TT special editions, followed by RotK on its opening day) was probably the best cinematic experience I've ever had.

Walking out of the first Hobbit film, though, I was completely baffled. I later saw the second on the small screen, and basically lost all hope for them.

I have no idea how you screw up such well-known source material so badly.
posted by tocts at 9:34 AM on December 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


This was clever and fun.

It's a shame the Hobbit films are such a ruination of source material.

I don't know anyone who was bouncy-excited about Movie 1 who is now excited about Movie 3 after seeing Movies 1 and 2.
posted by hippybear at 10:06 AM on December 12, 2014


I suspect it was the massive, Smaug-like pile of money that Jackson now sleeps on that caused him to pad out The Hobbit from two to three films. One has a choice of MST3K songs that seem appropriate:
"Slow the plot down, laddie, slow the plot down, waay, hay, slow the plot down/With Elvish, and Dwarvish, and Istari clowns/We'll try so hard, to slow the plot down"
or
"Nothing lasts forever, only orcs pad the film"

For me, the best Tolkien bit from Colbert is still him schooling James Franco on The Silmarillion.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:20 AM on December 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


But that Smaug is adorable! I want to pet him and bring him home for hot chocolate and let him live on a little gold pile at the foot of my bed and snuggle him when he has bad dreams.

I feel exactly the same way about the current Smaug, or any character with Cumberbatch's voice, really.


I feel exactly the same way about Cumberbatch but I suspect I am not alone.

It happened right around the time he was figuring how many endings he was going to put on Return of the King.

The movie of ROTK has fewer endings than the books. He chopped out (criminally, to my mind, but I get why it was done) one of the most important passages in the entire canon, the Scouring of the Shire. The hobbits come home to find Saruman has taken over the Shire while they've been faffing about in Gondor and having banquets with Elves, and have to boot him out. It's incredibly powerful, moving stuff, and frankly I think in some ways everything else about the Ring and whatnot is just setting up that narrative. (Which is echoed much earlier by Denethor's "I wish for things to be the way they were in the days of my long-fathers" or whatever his exact words were).

I mean, I'm with you on Jackson having essentially exhumed Tolkien's corpse to perform unspeakable sex acts w/r/t The Hobbit--actually that might have been more watchable than the first movie; I can't be arsed to see 2 or 3--but 'too many endings' is a criticism more accurately leveled at the book.

Also: "Don't laugh at a live dragon, motherfucker" was fantastic, though the hoodie/stand-your-ground thing was grossly tone deaf.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:31 AM on December 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


It happened right around the time he was figuring how many endings he was going to put on Return of the King.

The movie of ROTK has fewer endings than the books. He chopped out (criminally, to my mind, but I get why it was done) one of the most important passages in the entire canon, the Scouring of the Shire.


That's part of my issue with it, yes. He left in all the dumb endings and left out the Scouring, and no one was able (or willing) to say "No, that's stupid. Don't do that."
posted by Etrigan at 10:39 AM on December 12, 2014


though the hoodie/stand-your-ground thing was grossly tone deaf.

Funny, I thought in the context of two uber-conservatives conversing, that was the actual point.
posted by umberto at 10:40 AM on December 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


I see and understand all gripes with the LOTR movies and The Hobbit. Gods, I would have loved to see the Scouring of the Shire, it's a chapter that I've read over and over again. Merry and Pippin wading into battle like seasoned warriors, Sam the Stalwart, Frodo refusing to commit violence, it was just so moving.

BUT I still love the movies and am jonesing for the third. I kinda wished that Cumberbatch would have been standing in the rubble with Colbert when they came back after commercial but that might have been pushing it. IT WAS ALL JUST FUCKING AWESOME!
posted by Ber at 10:42 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's part of my issue with it, yes. He left in all the dumb endings and left out the Scouring, and no one was able (or willing) to say "No, that's stupid. Don't do that."

Ah. Misread you. For me, as a fanboy I was and will forever be annoyed about that. From a movie perspective though, especially given they were trying to appeal to non-readers, they had to wrap up the main characters (I still have no idea why the 30-seconds-each Gimli/Legolas/Faramir&Eowyn endcaps weren't included in at least the extended version) and still hit wrap ups for Aragorn/hobbits/Gandalf. I think it was a damned if you do/damned if you don't situation.

But I still wanted to see the damn Scouring dammit. They could have put it in the extended version!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:36 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Scouring of the Shire tacks on at least 30 minutes to a film that already destroys one's bladder. And while it does pay off Galadriel's gift to Sam in a way that's way better than the movie, it's a really long setup.

Besides, they had to cut that stuff to make up their own crap like Faramir being sent out to get slaughtered in a cavalry charge. Which is peanuts to the changes to Thorin that they've inflicted on the Hobbit movies.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:45 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, all the Faramir bullshit was so much window dressing dumbass nonsense that just padded out the movies to no good purpose. I suppose it was inevitable after they made Eowyn so central; wouldn't have made sense for her to just vanish off with that gormless idiot without him having A Story.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:49 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


But the guest does not need to have anything to sell. Many celebrities and interesting people wouldn't mind being invited for an appearance on a national show.

This is one of the things that make 70s talk shows so different.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:08 PM on December 12, 2014


I liked the first Hobbit movie OK, but the second one inspires a deep upwelling of rage in my heart. I have so many complaints about that movie I don't even know where to start, but principally I hate how they practically turned Bilbo into a supporting character in his own movie. Martin Freeman gets a criminally small amount of screen time, and when they do show Bilbo, they've left out most of the clever bits where his character gets to shine and just collapsed those parts down to "then he went invisible and saved the day!" And then it's right back to Thorin and his boring hammy manpain.

Don't even get me started on Legolas and Tauriel even being in the movie, or devoting like 20 minutes of screen time to the unspeakably stupid elf-dwarf romance, or neglecting to show the big awesome elf banquet, or the endless Laketown scenes (even Stephen Fry couldn't save that).... ugh. If the third movie is anything like the second one I will be angrily muttering through the whole thing. If it weren't for Martin Freeman's facial expressions, Lee Pace's general fabulousness, and that wonderful scene with Bilbo and Smaug (is there nothing Freeman and Cumberbatch's chemistry can't save?), I don't know if I'd even bother seeing the next one. But I'm a sap, so I will.
posted by dialetheia at 2:44 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Count me in with the folks who didn't like this portrayal of Smaug.

My father read The Hobbit to my brother and me when we were little, and it began my lifelong love of all things dragon and magic. Smaug is one of my favorite fantasy characters ever, and to see him spouting out witty talkshow banter just made my soul hurt (especially that "Keeping it real, yo" line).
posted by MsVader at 2:48 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Because Colbert is such a rabid Tolkien fan, I can overlook the crass commercialism. But the scripted nature of it combined the awful laugh track made it cringingly unwatchable for me. Cool CGI though.
posted by zardoz at 3:20 PM on December 12, 2014


The Peter Jackson "Lord of the Rings" film are fantastic. The Peter Jackson "Hobbit" films are dreadful fan-fiction.

People who make this distinction are forgetting how godawful a film The Two Towers is.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:13 PM on December 12, 2014


The Scouring of the Shire tacks on at least 30 minutes to a film that already destroys one's bladder.

Again, not a big LOTR fan (my girlfriends drags me to those movies and I usually end up thinking they're OK but really, really long)... but even as a noob, I would've thought the thing that really got folks in a twist was the way they just ditched the whole Christopher Lee plot between movies. It's like, Ooh, big bad evil wizard, here he comes, look out, ooh... Never mind, here's another battle. It was one of the most baffling things I've ever seen in a big epic movie, like if Darth Vader just kind of wandered away at the end of The Empire Strikes Back and was never heard from again.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:24 PM on December 12, 2014


Er, he does get knifed in the back right near the beginning of the third film. In the first film he's evil b/c of capturing Gandalf and sending the uruk-hai to waylay the Fellowship. In the second film, he creates the army that tries to take down Helm's Deep, and at the climax of the movie gets trapped in his tower (rendered powerless--though that is a Tolkien fault, not one of Jackson's; he's a super powerful wizard who suddenly has no power?). In the third film he gets killed by Wormtongue while still prisoner of the Ents.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:02 PM on December 12, 2014


Yeah, Lee got shafted in the theatrical release, not that he fares much better in the extended cut.

I was so looking forward to the battle of wits between Saruman and Gandalf, and in the movie they're all, "See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya," once the palantir gets thrown out of Orthanc. Really sad. Had to make more room for Aragorn being rescued. By his horse.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:03 PM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]




Er, he does get knifed in the back right near the beginning of the third film.

Only in the extended cut, though, right? My memory of seeing it in the theater was that he was never dealt with at all in the third film, and I remember reading something where Lee was a bit crabby about how that was handled. (Again, not a big fan, nor a hater. It could be I've got the details all wrong, here.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:34 AM on December 13, 2014


I don't want to be all "in my day", but my father read with me a grandly illustrated version when I was very young, and Smaug is a character that has some gravity for me. I find this representation of him just awful. Genuinely surprised to find myself so grouchy about it.

I was expecting to be every bit as grouchy as that when I saw some bloke from The Onion (with a passing resemblance to Richard Dawkins) claiming to have interviewed God. But it's actually handled quite sensitively.
posted by flabdablet at 9:07 AM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Only in the extended cut, though, right?

Derp, yes. I honestly am completely confused as to which bits were in the theatrical release and which weren't, because I have the extended DVDs.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:05 PM on December 13, 2014


If the Tolkien purists didn't like the Smaug-Colbert interview, they're going to hate Bilbo Baggins in The Office on SNL.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:02 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Deadspin: The Colbert Report Bits, Ranked

I'd go with something more like this:

1. Better Know a District/Lobby
2. Difference Makers
3. Threatdown
4. The Word
5. Colbert Platinum
6. Cheating Death With Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA
7. Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger
8. The Enemy Within
9. The Blitzkrieg on Grinchitude
10. The People/Movies That Are Destroying America
11. Thought for Food
12. Alpha Dog of the Week
13. Sport Report
14. Who's Not Honoring Me Now?
15. Who's Honoring Me Now?
16. Smokin' Pole: The Fight for Arctic Riches
17. Tek Jansen cartoons
18. Un-American News
19. Yahweh or No Way
20. Esteban Colberto
21. Sam Waterston Says Things You Should Never Believe in a Trustworthy Manner
22. Bears & Balls
23. Atone Phone
24. Stephen's Sound Advice
25. Formidable Opponent

I honestly don't remember "Monkey on the Lam", so I'm leaving that one unranked.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:47 AM on December 18, 2014


I'd rank Cheating Death near the top for the list of funny side effects after each bit, including things like Involuntary Narnia Adventures.
posted by JHarris at 12:12 PM on December 18, 2014


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