There have been a lot of mixed reactions to this, as suspected. Purists are upset about this, some are scratching their heads wondering why this even was considered since nothing will ever top the films, while others are tentatively curious. I, myself, was rather skeptical when this was first announced, although it's been said that this will be a prequel and not a remake of the films, which made me relax a little. In truth I've come to the conclusion that, in the right hands, a television series that explores different areas of Middle-earth that we didn't see in the films would be interesting. I've always believed that television gives more room for exploration and development than films do, and if done right it can give us so much more content taken from that world and universe and expand it further. I do agree that when it comes down the faithful adaptations, Peter Jackson's films are the closest we'll ever get and nothing else will ever compare. But even his films were a mere interpretation of Tolkien's world, which was a risk at the time when he was starting making them. Who is to say that nobody else should take a chance at it as well? True, it could end up being completely disastrous, or it could surprise us and actually end up being really good. This is the gamble with adaptations. At the moment we don't know anything about the series yet since it's still in the early stages and was just announced, but I do have a couple of qualifications of things I want to see happen with this series.
Don't make it grimdark. We don't want or need another Game of Thrones-style show. Lord of the Rings is the antithesis of that series anyway, so there is no need to make it something that it isn't. I know that this series will probably be made to fill in that void once Game of Thrones has ended and no doubt it will be compared to it, but it should not follow in its footsteps. Fantasy, particularly high fantasy, doesn't have to be "dark and gritty" in order for the audience to be engaged.
Have more women be included in the story. One of the things I appreciated was Peter Jackson trying to include women in the films (Arwen having a more included role, the creation of Tauriel and the women of Laketown picking up arms to fight alongside the men in The Hobbit), though I do wish there could have been more inclusion. So having more women characters in various roles is something I want to see in a television series, no doubt about that. Also, I want more women to be involved with the production of the series, this means women writers, directors, and producers.
Actually hire and have significant roles for minorities. Speaking of inclusion, this should be a no-brainer. There needs to be more representation of non-white actors portraying fantasy characters, something that neither film trilogy did which was disappointing.
Film in New Zealand. Or, at least film somewhere that has gorgeous scenery and landscapes.
As a whole, this is going to be interesting to watch unfold. I'm still a tad apprehensive, but at the same time I'm also intrigued on where this could potentially lead if done well.