King Theoden is one of my favorite characters. Granted, when I saw the films I hadn't read the books, and Bernard Hill's excellent portrayal is one thing that sold me on the character. When I finally read the books, I read about Theoden and about fell off my chair--he was the EXACT OPPOSITE of how he was portrayed in Two Towers. Fortunately, he got his redemption in ROTK, but man, he was a weak leader in TTT whereas in the book he was not. Heck, in the film's he's chastised for fleeing to Helm's Deep and not riding out to meet Saruman head on, whereas in the book that's EXACTLY what he wants to do but it's Gandalf who then counsels him to seek refuge at Helm's Deep (ironically, Gandalf is the very one in the film who criticizes Theoden for fleeing to the place that in the book Gandalf recommended he flee to).
I understand their explanation for the changes, but don't buy them. I mean, Theoden was going to be dead anyway before Aragorn took the throne, so while they said they didn't want another strong kingly figure to compete with Aragorn, there would be no competition. I may be remembering wrong, but I thought that was ultimately their explanation (similar to the one for Faramir), they basically had to weaken any otherwise strong characters so that our heroes stood out in contrast all the greater. If Theoden had been a strong king from the beginning, it would have lessened Aragorn's role at Helm's Deep. At least that's the impression I got from their explanation of things.
(This post was edited by jlj93byu on Tue, 8:44pm)