First came the news that Amazon had added a renowned Tolkien scholar to their crew in the form of Tom Shippey.  Now that same scholar has broken cover to tell us this endeavor certainly won’t be lacking in detail or rushed!

He tells us Amazon is targeting a twenty-episode first season.

Meetings have started now that the A-Team has been assembled and things are starting to be laid out in earnest.  Juan Antonio Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The Impossible) will direct the first two episodes, as well as getting that all-important Executive Producer credit.  Also all about those sweet Exec Producer Benjamins is his usual producing partner Belen Atienza.

“If I nail this, they will forgive me for a Jurassic World 2

JD Payne and Patrick McKay are writing the series with Emmy-winner Bryan Cogman consulting.

It is now confirmed that the series will be set three thousand years before the events of Lord Of The Rings during Middle Earth’s Second Age.

Cinema Blend picked up news via a German fan site that aforementioned Tolkien braintrust Shippey spoke to them about filming locations:

“The exact locations are of course uncertain and it could well be several. The shooting itself does not take place chronologically but is oriented towards the locations.

Logically, you try to bundle all the scenes that take place in one location and film them so that you have it done and don’t have to return to that place several times.

But this also implies that everything has to be clear at the start of filming, you have to know the end.

There’s supposed to be 20 episodes for the first season. So until they’ve decided what the end is going to be, they can’t start filming.”

He also revealed the Tolkien Estate has veto power over everything that concerns Tolkien’s work.  

Shippey. Wise.

There are strict guidelines in place that nothing from the Third Age (i.e. The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy) can be shown.

“The Tolkien Estate will insist that the main shape of the Second Age is not altered. Sauron invades Eriador, is forced back by a Numenorean expedition, returns to Numenor.

There he corrupts the Numenoreans and seduces them to break the ban of the Valar. All this, the course of history, must remain the same.

What has Sauron done in the meantime? Where was he after Morgoth was defeated? Theoretically, Amazon can answer these questions by inventing the answers, since Tolkien did not describe it.

But it must not contradict anything which Tolkien did say. That’s what Amazon has to watch out for. It must be canonical, it is impossible to change the boundaries which Tolkien has created, it is necessary to remain ‘tolkienian.’

A twenty episode count is far higher than a usual season for a lot of streaming shows. They can be around twelve.  Recently seasons as short as eight or six episodes have been seen, finally breaking the bonds of syndication which historically causes quantity over quality issues for American television.

Cameras role in 2020.