["Hedwig's Theme" plays]
Micah: Because Pottermore is still having some problems, this is MuggleCast Episode 240 for October 2nd, 2011.
[Show music begins]
Andrew: This week's episode of MuggleCast is brought to you by Audible.com, the Internet's leading provider of audiobooks, with more than 75,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature, including fiction, non-fiction, and periodicals. For a free audiobook of your choice, go to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast.
[Show music continues]
Andrew: Welcome to MuggleCast Episode two hundred and... [laughs]
Andrew: I don't even have the Google Doc open. I don't know what I'm doing. 240, okay! There's been a lot of news actually, and we've only been away for a couple of weeks and yet so much has happened. DVD news has finally been announced, a LEGO release date, more Pottermore drama we get to complain about...
Andrew: ...and be accused of not being fans of. And then we're also going to bring back Chapter-by-Chapter this week and over the next couple of months, we're going to do a couple of installments. I'm Andrew Sims.
Eric: I'm Eric Scull.
Micah: And I'm Micah Tannenbaum.
Andrew: Micah, what's in the news this week?
Micah: You were talking about the DVD and the Blu-ray, and a lot of news coming out about the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 Blu-ray/ DVD, and all these features and special editions, and now is really, I think, when we're going to start to see WB maximizing all eight movies finally being released. But let's start talking about the release date, actually. It's going to be released November 11th here in the United States but then not until December in the UK, and a lot of people were upset about that, even people here in the US. I saw in the comments they were saying, "Well, these are British-based films. Why is the DVD and the Blu-ray coming out on December 2nd in the UK?"
Eric: So, British fans have to wait two weeks. Is that unprecedented, because haven't they always released on the same day in both countries before?
Andrew: Yeah, I think they've always released pretty close, but I think the reason that this is happening is because they ñ for some reason - I want to say it has to do with the holiday shopping season. For some reason, they release in December. I feel like we've been through this before, maybe with the Half-Blood Prince DVD.
Micah: Do you...
Andrew: But it does - I do agree, though. I mean, they are - if you look at the international release date list...
Micah: They're last.
Andrew: ...the UK is the [laughs] last country to get it.
Andrew: And - I mean, I don't know, does that encourage piracy or what does that do?
Micah: No, the only thing I can think of is that with the US, there's this huge event going on down in Orlando that's tied to the release of the DVD and the Blu-ray, and I'm wondering if they're planning something for the UK as well and maybe that's why it's on December 2nd. That's the only thing I can possibly think of to have that kind of a gap. I mean, you're talking about Belgium, Hungary, Brazil, Korea, all getting the...
Eric: And no offense to these countries. [laughs]
Micah: No, no, none at all. But it's just weird that the UK has to wait so long.
Eric: Yeah, yeah, it absolutely is. I don't really understand that.
Micah: But let's talk a little bit about the features that are going to be on the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 DVD/Blu-ray.
Eric: So this is not the box-set, right? This is just Deathly Hallows - Part 2?
Micah: Right. Let's focus on the Blu-ray first. They have "Maximum Movie Mode" which was successful on Part 1 with Jason Isaacs but now it's going to be done by Matthew Lewis. "A Conversation with JK Rowling and Dan Radcliffe" which there have been pieces that have been leaking out on the internet over the last couple of days. "The Goblins of Gringotts" which is going to be hosted by Warwick Davis. "The Women of Harry Potter."
Andrew: The inflection of Micah's voice changed, I noticed.
Eric: Yeah. He was like, got to be more...
Andrew: Micah is going straight to that feature when he gets the DVD.
Eric: You kidding? I am, too.
Micah: "When Harry Left Hogwarts." Sounds like a documentary. The "WB Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter," so I guess it's going to be a sort of behind-the-scenes look at how this is all coming together at Leavesden Studios. And then of course, "Deleted Scenes" which everybody is looking forward to. And I know that the DVD will not contain the "Maximum Movie Mode" just like last time, but also it won't contain the conversation between JK Rowling and Dan Radcliffe, but people can probably find that somewhere online after the Blu-ray comes out.
Andrew: It'll be on YouTube.
Andrew: All right, before we move on with today's show we'd like to remind you that today's podcast is brought to you by Audible.com, the Internet's leading provider of audiobooks, with more than 75,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature and featuring audio versions of many of New York Times Bestsellers. For listeners of this podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook to give you a chance to try out their great service. One audiobook to consider is The Night Circus, a book just released by Erin Morgenstern. Publishers Weekly calls it "a giant, magical story destined for bestsellerdom." I actually just started listening to it and I can tell you, I agree completely. And actually this book has two connections to Potter: for one, Jim Dale is the narrator of the audiobook. He narrates the US version of the Harry Potter books, and two, David Heyman who has produced the Potter films is reportedly very interested in turning this book into a film. So, to get a free audiobook of your choice such as The Night Circus, which I do really recommend, go to AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast. Again, that's AudiblePodcast.com/MuggleCast.
I'm actually most excited for the conversation with Dan Radcliffe and JK Rowling. It's an hour long. It's just Dan and Jo talking one-on-one to each other. There's no additional interviewer. If you've seen the footage it looks great, and Jo, I noticed, she looks a little mopey or something. It's kind of weird.
Andrew: But other than that I think it's going to be a really interesting discussion between the two. And I think it was a great idea, I'm really happy that they did that.
Eric: Yeah. When I read about that feature I thought, "Well, that's just wonderful," because here's JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, and here's Dan Radcliffe, who has portrayed Harry. Dan Radcliffe almost represents Rowling in sort of an unintended way. But, I think the grace with which Dan has used his role to establish a career for himself, in the same way that Rowling has built a career around these books - it just makes it so interesting to sit them in a room across from each other and to just talk, presumably unscripted or minimally scripted, about the series. And just the clips that have already been released have been very insightful, it seems.
Micah: Did you see the part where Dan started talking about Americans being cast, possibly - or I think it was filming, to take place in the United States. JK Rowling really doesn't like the idea of there being sort of any American component to Harry Potter.
Andrew: I don't blame her. I don't blame her. I mean, the books originated there, that's part of the reason, I think, they've resonated so well with fans, is that it does feel like a genuine British film. It is a genuinely British film series. I wouldn't have it any other way. I wouldn't want Americans in it.
Micah: Now, what about "Maximum Movie Mode"? Did you guys take a look last time with Jason Isaacs...
Andrew: That was really good because they had on the "Maximum Movie Mode" the last day of filming, I believe.
Andrew: It was around the scene, "The Ministry of Magic," and the movie paused and there was a little featurette in "Maximum Movie Mode" where you saw them filming the last scenes in the Ministry - or filming for the last time, and it was the scene in the Ministry. And it was really good. It was really emotional. And I imagine they're going to have little packages like that throughout the film again. Matt Lewis hosting it? All right. I don't know. No comment, I guess.
Eric: [laughs] I mean, I didn't - I still haven't seen it. I actually acquired the 7 - Part 1 Blu-ray. It came to me. But I haven't watched it yet, but I really want to. I like Jason Isaacs, but again Jason Isaacs isn't exactly a main character. He's got tremendous presence in the film, but - in the same way that Matt Lewis has tremendous presence in Part 2, right? But he's not one of the trio.
Andrew: [laughs] That's true. That is true. "When Harry Left Hogwarts," that is a documentary.
Eric: It sounds like it.
Andrew: And that should be interesting. I guess that's going to be - there haven't been any other details, really, but I guess that's going to be about them wrapping up the series. That's the only thing I can think of.
Eric: My impression is that it's about filming on location in the English countryside, because you're talking about no longer being able to stay at Leavesden and shoot the majority of the film in Hogwarts. So "When Harry Left Hogwarts," I assume it means going - basically finding all these locations for them to film when they're camping. That was my impression, was that it was about Harry not returning to Hogwarts. Instead they had to find a whole new way to shoot these films because so much of - well, all of Deathly Hallows - Part 1 happens outside of Hogwarts. So I'm looking forward to it being a documentary about filming Part 1, essentially, where it's - they had to find all these places because they couldn't rely on the walls of Hogwarts to spend most of their filming. That was my theory.
Micah: I thought it could even be about Dan Radcliffe post Potter, following...
Micah: ...what he's done after he's left...
Micah: ...the sets at Leavesden.
Eric: Because we know he's done several things since then.
Micah: So, the other thing listed here, just really quickly, was the kiss between Ron and Hermione. But where does that factor into what's being offered in sort of the Blu-ray package?
Andrew: That's in "Maximum Movie Mode."
Eric: Yeah, it's one of the cutaways, I believe. Is it David Yates who intros it?
Eric: So, I mean, Matt Lewis is hosting but I imagine they'll have some of the other actors come on and speak the same way that it was in Part 1. I think regarding the release date real quick, which we were talking about earlier, I like that it comes out on November 11th, because the date however you put it, even if you put it in Britain, it's 11/11/11.
Eric: So - and everybody knows that...
Micah: That was planned, of course.
Eric: Well, that's lucky. It's just lucky. It's a lucky date.
Micah: Lucky for sales?
Eric: I'll be purchasing my - oh, maybe they hope so, [laughs] although they've done - they have other tactics for making sure it sells which we'll get into. But I'm going to purchase my Deathly Hallows - Part 2 at 11:11 AM on 11/11/11 for extra, extra good luck.
Micah: There you go! Now, what about this Harry Potter: The Complete Eight Film Collection? This is also going to be released on 11/11/11, and there's a lot of stuff in here. And again this is WB marketing the films to the highest possible level, I think. What do you guys...
Eric: Would you say a lot of stuff, or a lot of options? Because there appear to be - because you can get all eight films, and then you can get all eight films with a pin, all eight films with a Christmas ornament, isn't it? Or am I confusing that with the DVD Part 2 releases? Because they're doing like five or six different DVD collections you can get, some with Hogwarts crest pins, some with a Christmas ornament. Have you seen WBShop.com where they have these sort of - the different versions?
Andrew: Yeah, it's a lot. Personally, I don't know why fans - at least people who listen to this podcast, for example, would buy a complete set when we already have all the DVDs in the first place.
Andrew: You just need Part 2 and you just want the special features. So they'll be good Christmas gifts for people who - maybe younger generations who are just about to get into the Harry Potter series, but otherwise I don't think those are going to be too big a bestsellers. But I agree, the Part 2 DVDs, they're going to be hot sellers. I mean, just like the movie - the ticket sales for when it was in theaters, it was so strong because it was the last one. I think it's going to be the same thing where WB, honestly, probably won't even have to try very hard. [laughs] People are just going to buy it because it is the last one and maybe they didn't see it in theaters, or they do want to see it again.
Micah: And how do these really different from - differ, sorry, from the Ultimate Editions, looking at having this eight-film collection? There are things in here but I'm wondering how much of it is cross-over with the Ultimate Editions.
Eric: I wish I knew.
Micah: Or is there a lot of new stuff here?
Eric: Yeah, I wish I knew. I mean, my impression is that it won't have the Ultimate Edition documentaries, right? Shouldn't they just be for the Ultimate Editions? And so, otherwise - or in other words - aren't the original - even if they are on Blu-ray, aren't they just going to be ports in terms of features? Like, menus the same as they were on the DVD?
Andrew: Yeah - oh exactly, and that's pretty much how the Ultimate Editions are. If you go...
Andrew: ...look on the Ultimate Edition - the DVD menus, the special features disc - that came with the original DVD when it first hit store shelves. So...
Eric: So, we're talking about eleven-year-old content here. Nothing has changed.
Andrew: Minus the documentary.
Eric: Minus the documentary. So...
Andrew: From the Ultimate Editions. So yeah, that's basically what these are. And, for some people, that is good. If you don't want to buy all eight separately and you're buying them for the first time, and you're a casual Potter fan....
Andrew: ...this is a good thing to have.
Eric: I mean, is it $79.95? Is it $89.95? One of those two? It's about $80, I think, on WB Shop to pre-order the eight-film collection on Blu-ray. I think it's $80.
Andrew: Yeah, Blu-ray is $100.
Eric: Oh, okay.
Andrew: And this is the one with the castle on the front, and the boats going to the castle. And the DVD is $70.
Eric: Okay. I am looking...
Andrew: On Amazon.
Eric: I want them to do like a holographic comparison between when the boats are going to Hogwarts in Year 1 and the Hogwarts on fire in Year 2, because those posters are so similar.
Andrew: That would be cool. There will be stuff. I mean, look at Star Wars. They are just releasing new deleted scenes now...
Eric: Yeah, yeah, there's like forty of them.
Andrew: ...with that complete Blu-ray set.
Eric: I mean, I haven't bought that set but I will.
Andrew: So you know WB is sitting on classic stuff. Maybe even stuff like bloopers and whatnot.
Eric: Well, it's just when you brand yourself - when you say "Ultimate Edition," "Collectors Edition," "Director's Edition," "Hogwarts set," "full set" - it's all noise. It's all just noise to me.
Micah: Yeah. Well, the one thing we did ask David Yates about when I spoke to him was...
Andrew: It is a lot.
Micah: ...bloopers and he said, rest assured, we do have bloopers but we didn't release them early on because we didn't want to put the child actors in a difficult situation.
Eric: Compromising situation.
Micah: But now I think that they're all in their twenties, you are going to see more of that kind of stuff be released. But my question is with additional scenes for all of these movies, are they new scenes, or are they just the scenes that have been deleted and inserted...
Eric: The additional scenes - you're saying like the additional scenes that have already been made available as additional scenes on previous sets?
Eric: Okay, so...
Andrew: They're not new.
Eric: Yeah, I assume they are just the...
Micah: I mean, I'm just going through here.
Eric: All the films have typically had - yeah. What's it say?
Micah: It doesn't say anything more than additional. And are the shrunken head interviews something that's already been put out there on the Prisoner of Azkaban Ultimate Edition?
Andrew: Yes. Maybe not even the Ultimate Edition, probably on the Prisoner of Azkaban DVD.
Eric: See, that's such a shame. They could certainly be more descriptive here. I mean, if they're just re-packaging content I can understand their hesitation. But that's just what it seems like, is re-packaged content, and I just get angry when that happens, that's all. I just - a little twinge, a little twang in my temple of my head. There's a vein there.
Micah: Let's move on to LEGO Harry Potter. That's also going to be released now on November 11th. A good move on the part of WB Interactive and TT Games to coincide it.
Andrew: And not delayed this time.
Micah: No, not delayed. It's - well, for right now.
[Eric and Micah laugh]
Micah: I think the release date was rumored to be November 15th, so not too far off, but ultimately what they decided to do was market this game with the Part 2 DVD and Blu-ray. And from what we've seen so far, I think people are really excited about the game. They really enjoyed the first one, Years 1-4, and Years 5-7 closely follow the movies. And the difference, though, is that they do have a lot of book components to them. So, they follow the general storyline of the movie, but a lot of stuff from the books has been added in to kind of compliment it.
Eric: For - yeah, for content.
Micah: And so I'm sure we're all looking forward to that game, and we'll have to review it once it's out.
Andrew: Yeah, kind of.
Eric: I think I'll probably - I do want to try it, I do want to play it, but probably not on Wii. I played the first one on Wii and I just - I couldn't get very far. Actually, I own it, but I couldn't - never really got really far and I feel like the Wii is limited to a certain kind of gameplay, where you're using the Wii. I'm going to try - when I get Years 5-7, it'll probably be on Xbox.
Micah: All right.
Eric: Just to try something new.
Micah: Sounds good. Well, next story, the dog who played Padfoot is looking for a new home. This was a big story for the fans, I think.
Andrew: Awww. Yeah, everybody was really moved.
Micah: And his trainer or his owner for some reason - I think mostly due to work and other responsibilities, just felt that he couldn't take care of Berry, which is the dog's real name, not Padfoot, and...
Eric: Or Sirius.
Micah: Yeah, or Sirius. And he had to give him up, and he gave him up to a shelter along with Porridge who is I guess Berry's counterpart, his friend, the white German Shepherd. And both of them have been involved in films throughout the years, not just Prisoner of Azkaban, and I'm sure we'll hear a story in the not-too-distant future where one, if not both, of these dogs ends up getting adopted.
Andrew: I'm sure they got a huge amount of offers. I don't even know how you would decide who... [laughs]
Eric: Who gets the dog?
Andrew: Yeah, exactly.
Eric: Yeah. Based on some of the responses on the web to this news story, you can just tell - I mean, people were - people not living in the UK were like, "How do I get him? Can I ship him overseas? How does this work?"
Eric: They were just ready to take him. I mean - and I think part of that is awareness. Could this guy, for instance, the trainer, have reached out to the fans? I think he could have. I mean, I'm sure that's probably - would be more of a hassle that he didn't want to get into.
Micah: Well, I'm sure that's why he did the story, if you look at it. Why even bother doing a story? Nobody's going to really know that you gave up the dog from Harry Potter unless you go to a paper and do an interview about it. And it blew up. I mean, it's all throughout the Internet. All different news outlets were covering it...
Micah: ...so it wasn't just some random paper in the middle of England.
Eric: Yeah. And I think Sirius is many people's - I mean, it's mine - favorite character in the series, so it's not like its collecting memorabilia here, but okay, this dog does need a home and he's so recognizable. Even that photo we found of him, you could totally tell it's the same dog, and it's a piece of special Potter and it's also a great opportunity for this pet whose owner could not take care of him anymore.
Micah: All right. Last piece of news here, and I'm sure we'll spend a couple of minutes on it. It relates to our favorite old-man-on-a-porch topic, and that's...
[Eric and Micah laugh]
Micah: ...Pottermore. And...
Eric: No, I have nothing to add because I have not been into Pottermore since we recorded the last episode, so fortunately I will not delay this conversation.
Micah: Well, the big news is that the Beta period has been extended and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that really Pottermore wasn't prepared for the volume, the traffic, that was going to hit its site.
Micah: And so...
Micah: ...this period has been extended into October and the official registration period for those who are not Beta testers I think will open in the end of October, right? It's probably right around Halloween would probably be my guess, just coinciding with events in the series. But people have to be a little bit upset. If you're somebody who's been waiting, let's say who didn't get one of those one million e-mails, and now you're trying to get in and you go, oh man, I've got to wait another month to even register, because - and registration - here's the problem, registration is not going to guarantee you immediate access to the site. You may have to wait weeks or months to get in. And my question to all this is, why? Why is this such a big issue? Is it server cost? Is it not having the resources to support the amount of people who want to go to this website?
Eric: At the risk of repeating myself, I just don't feel like anybody was - they must have forgotten to bring somebody on board and that somebody would have been the person to tell them what people are actually going to want out of Pottermore because when we did get on through the - to be Beta testers, our biggest complaint I think on the previous show was that there just wasn't more to do, that there was sort of the capacity - there was stuff that you're shown but you can't click, you can't see more, you can't learn more, and it was really a vast wasteland of empty Flash animation. That's my opinion, that's my summary of it. But basically just talking about how they've handled this Beta process, where even in the Magical Quill Challenge which wasn't initially announced by JK Rowling, it seemed like she was taking something away then because not just everybody could sign up immediately. They had to be on at a certain time of day. Now it feels like they're taking even more away and I just feel like very early on - the only thing they said initially was that there would be a million Beta testers and because they set that limit, they drew the line in the sand about that, they've had to stick with that. But I just don't feel like that was a wise decision, given how much - how often the site is crashing or - how often has it happened for you guys where you go try to get on Pottermore and there is - it has to reload and fifteen seconds, fifteen seconds, server overload due to overwhelming demand. And I'm saying "overwhelming" is the wrong word here because they said they'd let a million people in, so there should be nothing overwhelming about it if they control the access from day one.
Andrew: The other issue is that if you go look in the Great Hall - we know there is a million people in Pottermore now. If you go in the Great Hall, you'll see that only 586,000 people have been sorted. So, that means there's 420,000 accounts that have not either been used or gotten sorted yet. And now that either means people got really bored once they got into Pottermore and couldn't even make it to Chapter 7, or they...
Andrew: These are multiple accounts and I think both maybe an issue here, because when the limited registration period was open, the Magical Quill process, there was tons of people - everybody was really anxious about being one of the first to get in and I think a lot of people created multiple accounts just thinking it would increase their chances...
Andrew: ...and I guess they did. But now a million people really aren't within Pottermore. And the other issue to this story, to talk about something new here, is that now the - they've decided to delay the e-books until 2012, which I'm sure Sony is not happy about because - or the Pottermore higher-ups are happy about because, I mean, this is really the reason that Pottermore exists, and now it's being delayed. And...
Eric: Which is to launch - you're saying to launch...
Andrew: The e-book store, yeah.
Eric: ...the e-book platform?
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, it was supposed to launch in October when Pottermore opened up, and it's not coming out until next year now. And this probably also means that Chamber of Secrets is going to be delayed as well.
Micah: Right. Well, and that's a huge issue...
Eric: It would have to.
Micah: ...for, like you're saying, the higher-ups at Pottermore as well as Sony because they're missing the holiday window to sell all these e-books.
Eric: Yeah, they had to have - exactly, and they probably had in their financial projections - that probably took into account this huge - this is the first time the Harry Potter books are available on e-book, officially, is through this up and coming Sony e-book store, right? So, I mean, all the projected earnings from that - we're talking about - say everybody who has ever owned the Harry Potter books now wants it digitally, which - it's not that many people, but still, I mean, that's - if half the people want it on e-book now, look at the sales that they're now not going to get until first quarter 2012 as opposed to final quarter 2011. That messes a lot of things up.
Andrew: Yeah, it's bad. It's a mess. [laughs] So - and yeah, I mean, so now when registration does open up to everyone later this month, you're not even going to get in immediately. It's going to be just like the Magical Quill process. I mean, the Pottermore Insider said it could be weeks or months...
Andrew: ...before you get in.
Micah: And that's where I agree. Eric brought up a great point saying, when you control the number of people that are going to have access to the site and then you're not prepared for it, that's just a really poor job on the part of the people at Pottermore and the ones behind setting all of this up, because how can you not be prepared for what you're expecting?
Eric: You control the limits, essentially. But then the other thing is, too, this time that they're taking, I really hope they fix stuff. Take all the time you need almost before official registration. I'm happy with no new content as long as once I get new content, it's with the insight of the feedback that they've gotten. You know what I'm saying? I would really love if they would go back to Book 1 and add more stuff based on what we've seen so far. If they could add some stuff or...
Micah: Well, they do say enhancements and simplifications have been promised, so they are going to make changes.
Eric: Yeah, and that kind of thing is what I would like to see moving forward. It's like fine, nothing like this has ever been done, so can we cut them a break? Yes, absolutely. I feel like many a breaks can be cut to them for taking on this massive project. But they did take it on, and they have a certain dignity to keep in terms of this. So, when they're taking this extra time and delaying registration and all of this stuff, I really want to see something good come out of it, which is a really awesome site, better than ever, but also with the ability to handle the type of capacity that they should have always known to expect with Pottermore. But my question, too, to Andrew is, how new is this news story that they delayed? Did the Pottermore Insider - when did the Insider blog about this?
Eric: Yesterday? Because that was what, September 31st...
Eric: ...that they're - 30th, that they're telling people that you can't actually get in tomorrow?
Micah: [laughs] A little late on the notification for those who are waiting for normal registration.
Eric: That's what I'm saying and many people, I guess, assumed - because it was never mentioned when in October registration would officially open, but people assumed it was either the 1st or the 31st. I feel like that was a discussion that we had on the show, too, would it be Halloween or would it be October 1st? Because she said, "come October." Well, now we know but also they just waited until the last day of September to tell us that we weren't going to get in on October 1st? What's going on here?
Andrew: All around, it's just disappointing and...
Micah: The whole situation - and yes, it's a Beta period for a reason but I think the whole process up until this point - it doesn't seem like something that JK Rowling would be in charge of or behind. I mean, I understand it...
Eric: Or want to even be a...
Eric: ...part of.
Micah: ...she's providing the content and that's really her role but I just think that this whole situation from back when you had to discover what it was that she was revealing, and then the Magic Quill, and now getting access and getting that screen all the time - I think part of what they've done, too, is they will restrict it to certain - for people who have just gotten access to Pottermore. I think in some cases, they restrict people who have previously already entered the site so that these people can now experience it without the site crashing on them.
Andrew: Now we're going to get into Chapter-by-Chapter. It's been a few weeks or a couple of months, but if you remember we were last reading Order of the Phoenix and did Chapter 6 of the book, so that leads us to Chapter 7 now and Eric is going to take that chapter.
Eric: Great! So, where we left off - basically, Harry's disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic is coming up and in Chapter 6, which is the last chapter we did, at the very end of it, Harry discovers that Dumbledore actually was at Grimmauld Place. Harry has been sort of missing Dumbledore. Dumbledore has not been around that much. He finds out that Dumbledore actually came to Grimmauld Place and essentially put the nix on whether or not Sirius could accompany Harry, because Harry is dreading this upcoming hearing. But Harry just kind of doesn't know why Dumbledore would show up and not say hi to him, or even be more supportive of Harry in this difficult time. So, that's sort of what Harry is feeling. He is obviously very, very worried and of course the next day is when his hearing is. So, Chapter 7, "The Ministry of Magic," is actually a pretty short chapter and reading through it, it's just very, very funny because she is introducing us finally to the main place where wizards work, essentially going back to the boat ride that Hagrid took with Harry, and he was reading the paper and Harry said, "There's a Ministry of Magic?" Well, five books later, now we get to read it - or now we get to meet it. So, that was really exciting.
My first question comes from - in the morning when they set off, basically Harry wakes up, he doesn't sleep very well, everybody's already awake, they said they didn't sleep well, he tries to have some breakfast, can't eat, and he begins to go with Arthur towards the Ministry. Now, he asks Arthur if he normally walks to work in the morning, because they are actually taking Muggle transportation to get there. And Mr. Weasley's reply is, "No, I usually Apparate, but obviously you can't." So, essentially his reasoning for them not just Apparating into the Ministry is that Harry can't Apparate. But isn't there something in the books called Side-Along Apparition? That's my question, because in the beginning of Book 6, Dumbledore and Harry Apparate and it's a Side-Along Apparition where essentially only one person actually needs to know how to Apparate. So, is this a book mistake, or did JK Rowling maybe not create that at the moment when Arthur and Harry are walking to work, do you think?
Andrew: Hmm, I don't know. Maybe Arthur wanted to give him the traditional entrance to the Ministry of Magic, being the phone booth. I mean, to me, it was more of an exciting - it was kind of like a classic Jo - like learning how people can enter through a phone booth that brings you down into the Ministry of Magic. I don't know, I thought it was cool, and maybe that's why Jo wanted to do it, too. It's more interesting than the Side-Along Apparition.
Eric: Yeah, I agree. It's probably more elegant, too. And there's no question that Arthur, who had never used this entrance himself, would be fascinated by it, and I think that's part of what sets the tone for this chapter, is that they're walking through the Underground, and Arthur is commenting on the turnstiles and how everything is just fascinating.
Micah: Yeah, but isn't it part so that it sets up what happens later on in the book, how the group of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville, so on, get into the Ministry? They wouldn't have known how to get in otherwise if this doesn't take place.
Andrew: Oh, good point.
Eric: That's actually - that's a really good point. So, there's that. And then I guess the other half of Mr. Weasley's sentence is that he also wants to use the Muggle way because Apparating into the Ministry would not look as good based on Harry is going to the Ministry to be disciplined for using magic. So, that made sense, but I just - it struck me that he said, "You don't know how to Apparate," as being one of the reasons.
Micah: It doesn't make sense, though, because he's with another wizard and he's within a wizarding household, so why would it be an issue for him to use magic?
Eric: Mhm. So, at least for the reasons we described, I think it's probably best the way it is in the book, but that was the question. Next, the minister - the visitor entrance to the Ministry of Magic is located in a shabby old telephone box on a street with a few shabby offices, a pub, and an overflowing dumpster. That's my summary. So, Mr. Weasley - he picks up the telephone when they're in this box. They're crowded into this red telephone box, and he dials the number 6-2-4-4-2. And I'm asking - do you guys know that - there's actually a special significance to this sequence of numbers, and do you guys know what it is?
Andrew: Of course! We - it used to be MuggleCast's number, don't you remember? 11-218-206-2442.
Eric: Oh my God. I forgot.
Andrew: Yeah, it means MAGIC, right, and Jo did not spell that out in the book, right?
Eric: Right, she doesn't. He - it's done in dialogue and Mr. Weasley says, "Okay, it's a six, and then a two, and then a four and another four, and then a two." So, you have to basically - you have to decipher because you're reading it in dialogue and you're not reading the numbers with hyphens.
Andrew: Yeah, that's awesome.
Eric: So, it was a coded way of doing it. It's brilliant, and yes, on a - not a touch tone phone, but on a phone that has an alphanumeric...
Eric: I guess it's called keys, 6-2-4-4-2 is MAGIC and that's the number you dial to get down into the Ministry of Magic, so I thought that was...
Micah: Well, you can also do it on her site. I forget what it reveals...
Eric: Oh, right!
Micah: It reveals some hidden content.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah.
Eric: So, that was just sort of one of those moments of brilliance that I thought I would remind everybody, but you guys are old pros, and of course...
Eric: ...our MuggleCast number was that. So, whatevs. Once inside the beautiful atrium of the Ministry, Harry has to present his wand and his self for inspection. A badly-shaven wizard takes Harry's wand, he puts it on some kind of a scale, but there's only one scale as opposed to two, so it's not balancing. And the instrument spits out a piece of paper that this badly-shaven wizard then reads. It says the core of Harry's wand, and the length of Harry's wand, and how many years the wand has been in use, because the wizard reads the paper and he asks Harry, "It's been in use four years, is this correct?" But I'm just wondering what the importance of this examination is, if you guys had any thoughts on that. Why is years of use important, and what's the purpose of figuring out how long the wand is? What does that matter?
Micah: Isn't it just like a security check?
Andrew: Yeah, and it's sort of like...
Eric: So, is it just...
Andrew: It's you. I mean, the wand chooses the wizard. It's a very important aspect of yourself, sort of like on a driver's license in the real world where you have your weight, your eye color, your height. This is just another one of those things, I think, that they take into consideration when checking you in. It's just a part of you.
Eric: So, that's interesting. And that wizard's name is Eric, by the way.
[Andrew and Eric laugh]
Eric: Which is cool. Except he's kind of a jerk. He notices Harry and then Mr. Weasley is like, "Thank you, Eric," and pulls Harry away. So anyway, they go on an elevator ride at the Ministry and this is where the majority of the chapters - because basically as they go on each level, JK Rowling writes what's on each level...
Eric: ...because the voice announces it, which is really, really cool and it's - again, it adds to sort of the humor in light of all this anxiety that Harry has...
Andrew: Yeah, I was fascinated by...
Eric: ...towards his...
Andrew: ...just learning...
Eric: ...court date.
Andrew: ... all the floors and what is covered. I remember reading this for the first time.
Eric: Yeah, there is so much. There really is so much and it's relevant to either this book or other books. There's the Department of Magical Games, which obviously had a huge handle in the Quidditch World Cup the previous year. And speaking of level four of the Ministry, it "houses the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, incorporating Beasts, Being and Spirit Divisions." And I know a couple of episodes ago on MuggleCast, we had a question - I don't know how long ago it was, but we did have a question about Moaning Myrtle, because in one of the books she expresses to Harry - it's actually during Goblet of Fire, I think it is, when she's in the bathroom. She says to Harry that she had haunted Olive Hornby after dying but that the Ministry made her return to Hogwarts and we wondered, "How would they do that?" Well, apparently - maybe the answer lies in this department, which is the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, because as we see in this chapter of Book 5, it has a Spirit division. So, the Regulation and Control of Magical Spirits is obviously - they would have a hand in telling ghosts where to be and somehow controlling them. So, I thought that that answered a long-time MuggleCast question.
Andrew: Hmm, interesting.
Eric: Yeah. But things like that, they are just peppered in this chapter, and later on in St. Mungo's the same thing happens where all sorts of important stuff in the Harry Potter world - or unimportant stuff, but it just fleshes out the world. So, then Harry gets to visit the Auror office which seems like a really cool place. Everybody has a cubicle in there. It's either a bunch of wanted posters or some Quidditch teams, I guess, on everybody's cubicle, which I thought was a really cool thing. Kingsley hands Mr. Weasley what turns out to be The Quibbler, actually, which is kind of a book too soon in a good way.
Andrew: Oh! A little foreshadowing, kind of.
Eric: Yeah, I think it's about Sirius Black. Essentially they're tracking Sirius Black, I think we find out later, but they obviously - Kingsley and Mr. Weasley, in this whole conversation that they have in the Auror office, have this sort of fake conversation where they don't really know each other that well, which I thought was really interesting to read because Harry sees that they have to put on this face to be safe, essentially. Like I think at one point, Kingsley and Weasley - they're there finishing their conversation and Mr. Weasley mutters, "Oh, if you can make it out of here by seven, Molly is making meatballs tonight." So, it's just very funny. And also they go to Arthur's office and apparently - there's these [laughs] Muggle artifacts, as there should be, but Arthur says that he and his roommate or cubicle-mate, Perkins, have been trying to get a window in the office but that the Ministry doesn't think that they need one. Essentially there are these enchanted windows, he says, which is kind of cool because they're underground, and I feel like real businesses - don't - Micah, do you know this? Like real businesses have windows underground just to - because doesn't it - it builds morale if you see sunshine, right? Have you ever seen any...
Andrew: I don't think businesses are ever underground. You always have an office with a window because you do need that - you do need to feel like you're not trapped in a cave or a dungeon or something, so - I mean, it's definitely a good idea...
Andrew: ...that they did it and of course with magic it is possible, so...
Eric: Yeah, with fake lighting I feel like it creates more - psychologically if you have light in your - what looks to be sunlight or imitation sunlight, that it builds morale. So, then...
Micah: Well, one thing that I did notice on the last job that I had, they were redoing a lot of the floors and what they tried to do was create it such that more natural light was coming in, and I think that's something that a lot of businesses these days do look to do, so that - it does boost morale, it is more positive on most days when there is sunlight. So, not to kind of go off on a tangent, but yeah, they do look to do those types of things.
Eric: So, finally, Perkins rushes into Mr. Weasley's office and tells them that Harry's hearing has changed both its time and its venue. The new location is in old Courtroom 10, which hasn't been used in years.
Andrew: Uh oh.
Eric: So, to get - yeah, this is odd. Arthur's like, "I don't even know - it doesn't make any sense." So, apparently the elevator doesn't even go as far low as these old courtrooms, and Arthur and Harry have to take the lift down to Level 9 which is the Department of Mysteries, comes into play a little later in the book, and they have to take - they actually have to walk down corridors and stairs from Level 9 where the Department of Mysteries is to get down to these old dungeons. And then the corridors are lit by torches, it's very medieval, archaic, and Harry mentions that - or Harry feels as though he's going down to Snape's dungeon. So, sure enough - they're actually already late for the meeting because the time has changed and they say they have to be there five minutes ago. So this is not a good way to start the hearing here and Harry - at the end of the chapter, he's basically pushed in, shown the right door by Mr. Weasley who says he cannot accompany him, and Harry is finding himself all alone.
Click here to go to page two