“The Hobbit” 101: A quick guide to the major characters in Peter Jackson’s upcoming adaptation

“The Hobbit” 101: A quick guide to the major characters in Peter Jackson’s upcoming adaptation (photo)

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Peter Jackson made an unexpected appearance at Comic-Con last weekend to discuss how things are progressing on “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first chapter in his two-part film based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 story.

A prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Hobbit” follows a group of dwarves and a hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, as they set off on an adventure to slay the dragon Smaug. The group is accompanied at points by the wizard Gandalf, and interacts with a long list of Middle-earth inhabitants — good and evil — as they travel across the land toward Erebor, the mountain the dwarves once called their home.

Over the weekend, “Hobbit” fans were treated to the first full image of all 13 dwarves — a reveal that occurred after being teased with a series of photos depicting small groups of dwarves or close-up shots of the characters.

While the big debut of Thorin Oakenshield’s traveling party was big news for Tolkien fans, not everyone is savvy to the people and places that make Middle-earth so popular. No need to worry, though, as I’ve put together a quick guide to who’s who among the dwarves, as well as some of the other major players in the story of “The Hobbit.”


When the dragon Smaug invaded the mountain kingdom of Erebor, he forced the surviving dwarves into exile. Among them was Thorin, heir to the throne. He earned his surname when his shield was broken during a battle and he was forced to use a piece of a tree to protect himself. Years later, Thorin and twelve of his most trusted warriors accompanied the wizard Gandalf to the Shire, with the intent of recruiting a Hobbit to be their group’s scout and thief.


Joining Thorin on his quest are twelve other dwarves: Nori, Ori, Dori, Oin, Gloin, Fili, Kili, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Balin, and Dwalin. Among them are several members of the dwarf nobility, including hardened veterans Balin and Dwalin, as well as Oin and Gloin. They’re also joined by Fili and Kili, a pair of young dwarves raised by their uncle, Thorin. It’s worth noting that Gloin also has a son, Gimli, who will join Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring on another, even more important quest years later.


A resident of the Shire, Bilbo Baggins always had more of an appetite for adventure and news from the outside world than his fellow Hobbits. Gandalf eventually convinces Bilbo to join Thorin and the dwarves on their adventure, and he sets off on a quest that will later become the subject of his book, There and Back Again. Bilbo later adopts his nephew, Frodo, who inherits the One Ring and sets off on an adventure of his own with it.


An ancient wizard, Gandalf helps to orchestrate Bilbo’s involvement with Thorin and the dwarves, and accompanies them during certain portions of their trip to Erebor. Much like his role in “Lord of the Rings,” Gandalf is a friend to the Hobbits — and Bilbo in particular — and watches over the party during their travels even when he’s not present.


A major player in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the creature known as Gollum first appeared in “The Hobbit.” His encounter with Bilbo in a dank cave will forever change the course of Middle-earth’s history, and play a significant part in the events of “Lord of the Rings.”

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.