Tuesday 1 June 2010

Reviewlet: Terry Pratchett's Going Postal

Going Postal is Sky One’s third Terry Pratchett adaptation. The first, Hogfather, seemed a bit of an odd choice, jumping into the middle of the Discworld series with a story about belief featuring an anthropomorphic Death as a hero, and though impressively put together it was a tough place to start for someone new to Pratchett. The second, The Colour of Magic, was rather more logically based on the first two books in the series, but they’re not my favourite of his.

Going Postal is a later Discworld book and features Moist von Lipwig, a con artist offered a choice between death and cake. Wait, not cake, I meant sorting out the Ankh-Morpork post office, fallen into disuse with the advent of The Clacks, an optical telegraph system. The Clacks exemplify the technological aspects that have steadily been introduced to the Discworld universe alongside its more magical origins, making it a more accessible analogue for our world, and the self-contained and comparatively straightforward plot of plucky underdog triumphing over corporate greed kept my non-Pratchett-reading wife interested where she’d wandered off during the previous two serials.

The production is lavish, with great attention to detail in the sets topped off by judicious use of CGI; apparently two million envelopes were addressed by hand to dress the Post Office, and even a minor location like a pin shop is transformed into an emporium to delight the most ardent pointy-fastening enthusiast. The performances are very good as well, Richard Coyle’s Lipwig holding things together (though I still can’t help but think of him as Jeff from Coupling) well supported by Ian Bonar and Andrew Sachs as Stanley and Groat in the Post Office, Charles Dance lends considerably more gravitas than a Culture ship name to Venitari, Claire Foy is a suitably threatening Miss Dearheart, but David Suchet slightly steals the show with a scenery-chewing anti-Poirot performance as Reacher Gilt, the villain of the piece. There’s a particularly lovely cameo from Sir Pterry himself right at the end as well. All in all an excellent way to spend a Bank Holiday, even for a newcomer to Pratchett.

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