12/17/07

Edward the Less Guide

Elf enthusiasts everywhere venerate J.R.R. Tolkien as the progenitor of modern fantasy, and his creation The Lord of the Rings as the inspiration for innumerable desperate quests to save googolplexes of magic kingdoms from sorcerous annihilation. (Of course, Tolkien based large portions of his work on North European mythology in general and Beowulf in particular, but they weren’t popular in quite this form before he got a hold of it.) And they are good books, still thrilling to read despite being slow and wordy by today’s standards.

But, like all fantasy, the thin veneer of serious drama conceals a deep, rich core of silliness that has inspired parody and mockery since its publication. In the fall of 2001, for instance, in anticipation of the latest film adaptation, the cast and crew of Mystery Science Theater 3000 teamed up with the SciFi Channel to produce Edward the Less—a fanciful tale of the eponymous pudge (an even more irritating variety of hobbit) on a reluctant quest to destroy a magic token before it falls into the clutches of the evil Dark Person.

Production values aren’t great, but the artwork is sharp. I’d call the format “animation,” but that would imply that the pictures “move” rather than having the camera pan across a series of still images. Still, it’s written and voiced by members of the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and they do not disappoint in these departments. Even better, for the price of a Silent Hill 2 commercial (and allowing RealPlayer to infect your computer), it’s free...

...or was free, anyway. The official site hosted at SciFi.com is rather slow, but still functional for now. Unfortunately, the links to the videos don’t seem to go anywhere, leaving the MST3K-hungry masses without any legitimate* means to see this forgotten bit of Tolkien fandom.

101 — A Long, Annoying Party
102 — The Odor of the Past
103 — Where the Hell Are We?
104 — Finally, Someone Tall
105 — Fight Like a Pudge
106 — Riders on the Bus
107 — The Bus Stops Here
108 — Table for Two?
109 — The Lair of the Lorekeeper: Collector's Edition
110 — Getting Soapy
111 — Stand by Your Pudge
112 — Many Minutes
113 — Of Course, You Realize This Means War

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*Edward the Less is the property of the SciFi Channel and is supposedly available for free on their website, but, due to technical issues, isn’t really. Repeated requests to SciFi.com to either fix their links or give me permission to repost them here have been stalwartly ignored. I recommend you ask your Lake Video cousins if you can borrow their copy. Your favorite cousin, Google "Edward The Less" Torrent would probably be particularly helpful in this regard.


**Super Special Extra-Crispy Update 7/31/08: An alert commentor (see below) has pointed out that some kind soul has uploaded the videos in question to Youtube. Entering the words "Edward the Less Youtube" into any search engine ought to point you in the right direction.