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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hordes of the Things - Hordes of Laughter!
Many years ago, in a land far far away, a Wizard named Tolkein published the book that defined the fantasy genre - Lord Of the Rings. In the years that followed, many many parodies have been made of this masterpiece. None have really worked, apart from 'Hordes Of The Things'.

Obviously inspired by the radio production of LOTR, to which it audibly bears a great...
Published on 20 Oct 2009 by Victor

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sporadically amusing but more often just silly
Of course, silliness is pretty much unavoidable when parodying the fantasy genre, which is often perilously close to unwitting self-parody itself, but this four part radio series from 1980 is never quite as funny as it could be. Only loosely spoofing Tolkien - there is a Dark Lord threatening the kingdom of MiddleSea but for the most part it's a generic hero on a quest...
Published on 22 Oct 2009 by Trevor Willsmer


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sporadically amusing but more often just silly, 22 Oct 2009
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hordes of the Things (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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Of course, silliness is pretty much unavoidable when parodying the fantasy genre, which is often perilously close to unwitting self-parody itself, but this four part radio series from 1980 is never quite as funny as it could be. Only loosely spoofing Tolkien - there is a Dark Lord threatening the kingdom of MiddleSea but for the most part it's a generic hero on a quest tale - it's at its best when Patrick Magee is delivering utterly nonsensical background narration worthy of Spike Milligan with a straight face or when Paul Eddington's hopeless king is obsessing over petty laws or appeasing evil overlords with trade agreements (trading all the kingdom's virgins for one walnut seeming a perfectly equitable arrangement in view of the kingdom's balance of trade figures). It certainly boasts a impressive cast - Simon Callow, Frank Middlemass and Yes, Minister creator Jonathan Lynn are in there too - but at times it feels like it's trying too hard to be a fantasy equivalent of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy without ever quite finding the right tone to marry the script's nonsensical wordplay to the occasional schoolboy plotting. The result is something that's sporadically funny but overall just too inconsistent to work as well as it wants to.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hordes of the Things - Hordes of Laughter!, 20 Oct 2009
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hordes of the Things (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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Many years ago, in a land far far away, a Wizard named Tolkein published the book that defined the fantasy genre - Lord Of the Rings. In the years that followed, many many parodies have been made of this masterpiece. None have really worked, apart from 'Hordes Of The Things'.

Obviously inspired by the radio production of LOTR, to which it audibly bears a great resemblance, it follows the trials and tribulations of Prince Vagenin (Simon Callow in grand blustering form), Agar the hero and Wizard Radox the Green (Frank Middlemass in good voice) as they try to save Albion from the ravages of The Evil One. Also notable is Paul Eddington as King Yulfric the Wise (with an odd habit...) and Jonathan Lynne (creator of Yes Minister) as the Dwarf who is a little sensitive about his height.

This works well for one reason - it shows us just how absurd fantasy can be. Remove three jokes and ask the actors to take it a bit more seriously and this would have been a decent swords and wizardry adventure. As it is, just a few comic twists and suddenly we have a laugh out loud funny two hours, which works it's way up to a great ending (it's worth listening just to find out who the six legendary heroes really are!)

It strikes me as odd that this work isn't better known, or accorded the 'cult' status that it deserves. Definitely worth a punt form all fans of LOTR (especially the radio version) and comedy fantasy like Pratchett.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Flat Satire, 17 May 2013
This review is from: Hordes of the Things (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
In 1981 the BBC presented a wonderful adaptation of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, voted in many polls as the greatest novel of the twentieth century (to the disgust of many critics) with an amazing all-star cast.

The year before, the BBC presented a satire of THE LORD OF THE RINGS called HORDES OF THE THINGS. Its authors were Andrew Marshall, half the writing team of the satiric classic radio series "The Burkiss Way"; and John Lloyd, who had co-written a couple of the funniest [IMHO] episodes of radio's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (Which went on to become a publishing phenomenon, with Lloyd's inclusions excluded from the books, whether because of rights reasons or Douglas Adam's humongous ego).

So the writing talent of HOARDS OF THE THINGS had an excellent pedigree. And while LORD OF THE RINGS has always been popular, in the late '70s it was really hitting its stride as a classic and as an inspiration for a growing genre. It was ripe for satire.

Unfortunately, satirizing THE LORD OF THE RINGS is kind of like satirizing James Bond movies. It's hard to do well because the subject of the satire itself knowingly skirts the ridiculous. Furthermore, the best satire has some respect for the original subject matter, otherwise it becomes nothing more than hate-mongering. A successful satire doesn't just sling mud, its strives to become its own creation as well. That's why the novels like COLD COMFORT FARM and NORTHANGER ABBEY make good reads in the twenty-first century when some of their targets (including and especially Mary Webb for FARM and the gothic novels preceding ABEEY) survive only as footnotes.

I don't know whether Andrew Marshall had any respect for THE LORD OF THE RINGS, but HORDES OF THE THINGS comes off more as mockery than satire. And it has several other flaws that are possibly unavoidable.

First, J.R.R. Tolkien was a philologist. Words are not just arbitrary sounds whose meaning we agree to in a tacit language conspiracy. Words not only have meanings, they have derivations and connotations. Even when they may change gradually over time, words come from someplace. Tolkien constructed Middle-Earth and its tales as a home for a language he developed, as only a philologist could. This is a failing of HOARDS -- as well as many modern fantasy novels that attempt to doggedly follow in Tolkien's footsteps: not being written by philologists, they fall back on making up arbitrary sounds for names and places. It may be very pretty, but it sounds phoney. )

Most of what humor exists in HORDES comes from its catalog of silly-sounding names and places. Otherwise, for long stretches, HORDES commits the only crime of comedy: viz., it isn't funny. It sounds like there's a wicked satire hidden somewhere in its heart that wants to burst free, but it doesn't know how.

On the plus side, HORDES has a pretty good cast, if not as stellar as the cast of 1981's LORD: Simon Callow (apparently trying to sound like Brian Blessed), Frank Middlemass, Miriam Margolyes, Paul Eddington (doing a version of his "Yes, Minister" schtick). Patrick Magee admirably performs the dark narration.

If you're a Tolkien fan (or an aspiring comedy writer) you might enjoy hearing an attempt at satire gone very wrong. If you hate Tolkien you might enjoy hearing Marshall and Lloyd's attempt at pounding him into the ground. However, I doubt either group would care to hear the show more than once (and I can't imagine anyone else having any interest in it at all) so it's hardly worth buying. Wait until it pops up on its regular repeat schedule on BBC radio.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fading classic, 31 Jan 2011
By 
gururob (Wellingborough, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hordes of the Things (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
When HotT was first broadcast, I recorded it from the radio. Now, all these years later, I finally get the chance to listen to it without interference.

I remember listening to it and chuckling most of the way through, laughing out loud at some of the antics of Crown Prince Vegenin and Agar son of Athar. The acting (or, rather, overacting) by the strong cast (Paul Eddington, Frank Middlemass, Simon Callow, etc.) is great tongue-in-cheek stuff. Patrick McGee's 'narration' is nonsense, and the better for it.
Listening to these CDs, I am reminded why I found it so funny, though, with my adult sense of humour, I didn't find it quite as sidesplitting as I did when I was 18.

Yes, it is silly at times. Yes, many of the names are jokey parodies from a bygone era (the 80s) and have no meaning to many listeners nowadays. Yes, there is still much to chuckle at.
It isn't a gagathon in the style of Bored of the Rings, but that was never its intention.

I would say that HotT is reminiscent of early Terry Pratchett books - laugh out loud funny when they came out but still humourous on subsequent reading.

For the sake of a few pounds HotT was a good purchase. It isn't going to make you wet yourself but is a at least as funny as a modern series such as Elfquest.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Sillymarillion?, 25 Oct 2009
This review is from: Hordes of the Things (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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I love fantasy, but have to admit it's not hard to poke fun at it, once it puts on its serious hat and starts talking in Thee's and Thou's, and giving things aggrandising names like the Mount Vazarpithur the Dark, or The Tower of the Kwarg (both from the Hordes of the Things map that comes with this CD). But to make a really successful fantasy spoof -- like, I think, the recent Radio 4 series Elvenquest (BBC Audio) was -- you have to give your listener more to stick around for than merely the next punchline. You have to give it story and characters. ElvenQuest did -- so what about Hordes of the Things?

Well, I'd say, yes and no. But more no. Certainly, Hordes of the Things has a lot of funny things going on in it. The Conference of All Wizards, where Radox the Green and his chums get together to discuss defeating evil rather than actually doing it, was certainly funny. And the Dread Sphynx of the Caverns with the head of a snake, the body of a snake, and the tail of a snake... which makes it just a snake, doesn't it? But elsewhere, Hordes suffered, oddly enough, from too much wit. How can that be? Well, to really work, the sort of verbal whimsy the show makes use of, needs to be read, so you can pause to roll the joke around in your mind for a bit and really get it. On the radio, it's often over before you've registered it (or, as is unfortunately the case with the narrator of Hordes of the Things, before it's been mumbled or muffled and lost to the listener). Radio humour needs broader strokes (or multiple listenings -- I suspect Hordes may be funnier the second time round, but haven't yet tried it), and it also needs to give the actors more leeway to bring character humour into it. Hordes' script didn't seem to leave the actors much room to bring anything of their own to it. (Which is a pity, as there's a lot of good names here, including Simon Callow, Paul Eddington, and a brief Miriam Margolyes (if there is such a thing as a brief Miriam Margolyes)).

It doesn't really work on the story or character level. This might sound nitpicky criticism for what is, after all, a spoof comedy, but the best comedy works as much as drama as it does as a series of jokes. Having listened to Hordes, I don't really feel I've been in the presence of any real characters (apart from Radox the Green, who I warmed to), nor has the story been much more than a framework to hang gags on. The ending is, when it comes, a non-ending, making me wonder if they were hoping for a second series to be commissioned.

Having said all this, I'm feeling I've been a bit harsh. There were enough funny moments to make it worth a listen and, now I know not to expect too much of it, perhaps even a re-listen, to try and catch some of those more whimsical jokes.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't age well, 26 Jan 2010
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This review is from: Hordes of the Things (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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I remember listening to this on the radio way back in the 80's and was keen to relisten. At the time I thought this was an hilarious mickey-take of Lord of the Rings, and I seem to remember it followed hot on the heals of "The Hobbit" being repeated.

Alas it has not aged well. Whereas Douglas Adams could write parody and still make a compelling and realistic science fiction story, this develops quickly into schoolboy farce. Peurile and childish at times (not that that is always a bad thing) I was suprised, especially as John Lloyd has made a name as an intelligent and humourous writer, and Andrew Marshall has done likewise, although at the time he was writing childrens TV programmes (which may have spilled over).

It is worth a listen. I recently rewatched The Young Ones for the first time in 10 years and found it had waned and then grown funnier, so maybe you have to be in a certain frame of mind, but right now it is a disappointing curio and nothing more.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good idea but doesn't quite work, 20 Jan 2010
By 
Ren (Newcastle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hordes of the Things (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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I do like a good spoof, and this sounded like it would be very entertaining. It wasn't awful by any means, but it did feel a bit lack-lustre.

First off, I thought the sound was quite poor, admittedly it was originally recorded in 1980, but the volume was quite low. Initially I tried listening to the disc on my stereo, but found it so hard to make out much of the dialogue I had to transfer it to my MP3 so I could use a set of headphones, which is a pain when you just want to sit and listen, although I did find the show much more entertaining tucked up in bed with headphones, so it wasn't all bad.

For a fantasy spoof, it wasn't terribly funny on the whole, there were a lot of fairly tired humour, but that may just be down to the age of the show, but very few parts that were actually worth laughing at.

The idea of the show made me expect a Terry Pratchett style programme, but it never quite managed to get there.

It's probably better suited to existing fans rather than new listeners.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Laugh-free, 8 Dec 2009
By 
elmsyrup (Cardiff, Glamorgan United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hordes of the Things (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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I've enjoyed radio comedy before along the lines of Hitchhiker's Guide, Red Dwarf and so on, and like a bit of sci-fi/fantasy, but unfortunately I just could not enjoy this, much as I wanted to. I'm not sure why the BBC have brought it out after so long (or rather, why they didn't bring it out a few years ago during the height of LOTR frenzy). But anyway, it's dated and embarrassingly studenty. I find the susurrating voice of the female narrator really irritating, which is a big problem for an audio production. The plot, such as it is, is a confusing mess. Much of the humour seems to just be silly voices, obvious puns and character names- wizards called Radox and Badedas? Please don't bother.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tolkien the mickey, 18 Nov 2009
By 
Paul B "-pb-" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hordes of the Things (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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There's no mistaking that this project probably came off the back of the successful Hitchhikers radio plays.

Instead of sci-fi, though, this is a parody of Lord of the Rings at heart, but seems to try too hard. The voice acting is good, the script, at times, is quite funny and the whole thing should really be quite entertaining if it wasn't for the nagging feeling that someone is about to come in dressed as a pantomime horse.

In trying too hard to be funny they've created something which at times feels that it's playing for a forced laugh and at other times is just silly. It's not quite Rentaghost (to use a similar comedy style from the same era) but almost stoops to those levels to get a laugh.

I can't really think of the audience this would appeal to either. Terry Pratchett fans would look down on the low level humour, Lord Of The Rings and fantasy fans might take offence at the humour in general and people who are just interested in radio plays in general have much better sources of enjoyment.

That said, it's still good enough to listen through and enjoy to some extent and the packaging comes with a nice map and notes on the series, so it gets 3 stars for presentation and the odd bit of enjoyment it might give.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I was glad when it ended, 13 Nov 2009
By 
G. Thomas (Canterbury UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hordes of the Things (BBC Audio) (Audio CD)
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There really isn't that much I can say without just repeating "nearly" everyone else's reviews.
This is an ill judged and poorly written comedy which is only ever barely amusing. There are a few good one-liners but overall it just sounds very amateurish, embarrassingly unfunny and incredibly dated. I found the whole thing an absolute chore to listen to..hence the relatively late review.
The performers do as well as they can, given the material, but even Paul Eddington's wonderfully hapless king routine starts to wear thin before you're halfway through the whole set.
I did almost enjoy the highly-predictable downbeat ending but honestly couldn't say whether it was actually just because it was the end.

On a positive note the packaging shows a little more effort than usual which should always be commended.
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Hordes of the Things (BBC Audio)
Hordes of the Things (BBC Audio) by Andrew Marshall (Audio CD - 8 Oct 2009)
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