Episode 32
November 1, 2021

He's Being Ganged Up On By These Mean Little Jerks!

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Oriana’s choice of topic: Sam Gamgee. For all that Frodo Baggins is the Ringbearer and makes something close to the ultimate sacrifice for the fate of the world—at least right until the very last moment—it’s Sam, son of Bag-End’s gardener who seems to only join Frodo at first to help take care of a new house in Buckland, who ends up being the key figure in The Lord of the Rings that helps Frodo on the quest and who remains most grounded in the whirlwind of fates surrounding his steps, down to having the book’s last words. Thanks to a variety of notable performance interpretations over the years, especially and most indelibly Sean Astin’s marvelous turn in the Peter Jackson films, he might just be the most warmly regarded character as well even beyond the book readers. What is the full meaning and understanding behind Tolkien’s well-known comment about Sam being a tribute to his batmen during World War I, and who were the batmen and private soldiers in general in that conflict? Does the understandable characterization of Sam as ‘just’ a simple hobbit belie a notable depth evident even from the start of the book, and how did Tolkien conceive of Sam as distinct from hobbits in general? What fully went into Astin’s portrayal of Sam in particular for the films, and how much of it was also something provided by other key creative forces? And what was the American radio production team from 1979 exactly thinking when they cast Lucille Bliss as Sam?

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Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. What can you see on the horizon, indeed.

Wanna be like Oriana? Here’s how to apply to the Warner Bros.’ Writers Workshop.

A summary of the Lenny Henry radio interview with some key quotes.

Willow does have its fanbase, and this planned new series could be good.

The Wheel of Time is coming and we await with interest...

Dune, yes. We quite like it. (Tolkien himself did not.)

Letter 246 to Eileen Elgar, which has a lot of background information on Sam and other characters and their motivations and personalities.

You can find plenty of Sean Astin clips of him portraying Sam out there. As for the others? Some samples: Roddy McDowall for Rankin-Bass, Bill Nighy for the BBC, Michael Scholes for Ralph Bakshi and Lucille Bliss for NPR/The Mind’s Eye (skip ahead to 7:15 in that one).

The famed Tolkien/Sam Gamgee correspondence. Who knew, indeed?

Shakespeare’s rustic characters were something stock, and indeed were often termed ‘clowns’ rather than fools or jesters. Here’s a little more about that.

The Marx quote was from the Communist Manifesto, and indeed, ‘the idiocy of rural life.’

Our episode on friendship.

More on that hand-holding moment.

John Garth’s Tolkien and the Great War is well worth a read.

Batmen are a thing, and nothing to do with DC.

Sean Astin’s autobiography There And Back Again is a very key read for anyone interested in the Jackson films.

There’s RP, there’s Cockney and there’s a whole LOT else.

You know the potatoes meme. And you know the Sean Bean meme too.

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