Re: "even the movies often fail to get the genre right."
I tried to watch the first episode, but got bored and switched off after 10 minutes.
This was unoriginal Tokienian rubbish. If this is the best George "Ronald Ruel" Martin can do, I'll pass, thanks. If I want to watch a bunch of Shakespearean thespians chewing the scenery like an overacting Doctor Who villain, I can always watch Doctor Who.
Why in the name of buggeration do so many people equate "fantasy" with "orcs, elves, dwarfs, trolls, dragons, etc."? It reveals a distressing lack of imagination—not least because the very first recognised English novel* was not only a fantasy, but was also rather more original. It's bad enough that readers do this, but the sheer number of writers cranking out these undisguised rip-offs of Tolkien is astonishing. (And it's even worse in the games industry, where every feckless twit seems to want to make an MMORPG with the same damned list of highly unoriginal tropes.)
Tolkien wasn't as good a writer as his hagiographers make him out to be. He was an academic at heart, and it shows in his writing style. Pacing is all over the place. The plot—such as it is—wanders wildly. The protagonists don't act, but react to events that just happen to them. Gandalf is killed and resurrected for no adequately explored reason**. And, worst of all, his characters all sound very similar; he clearly didn't have the same ear for dialogue as many of his peers, like Wodehouse or Christie.
Meh. Wake me up when HBO spends their money on something a bit more original than a western, a cop show, or a Tolkienesque fantasy novel.
* "Gulliver's Travels", by Jonathan Swift. Terry Pratchett is arguably the closest modern equivalent, using his fantasy settings to send up Tolkien and society itself. Pratchett's earlier novels are very much straight parodies, but his later novels have cranked the satire lever all the way up to 12. And Swift was a lot more original about it too.
** The only way to get to their destination was to go through a dangerous disused underground citadel, full of nasty creatures? Presumably no trading was ever done between the two regions on either side of this mountain range.