Terry Pratchett's Going Postal
Acorn Media // Unrated // $39.99 // September 20, 2011
Review by John Sinnott | posted September 13, 2011
Highly Recommended
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Graphical Version
The Movie:
"How dare the Gods work against me! I don't remember giving them permission." - Reacher Gilt

Though little known on this side of the Atlantic, over in the UK Terry Pratchett is a well known author.    He's best known for his on-going series of humorous fantasy books chronicling life on the Discworld.   In 2006 the British network Sky One adapted one of these novels, The Hogfather, into a two-part TV miniseries and followed that up in 2008 with The Color of Magic. Last year they aired their latest adaptation, Going Postal, an amusing and clever tale of fraud, murder, and the post office.  This mini-series has now made its way to Region one thanks to Acorn Media, much to the delight of Pratchett's fans.   
The Discworld is just like it sounds; a flat, giant disc that travels through space on the backs of four mighty elephants that, in turn, are standing on a giant turtle, the Great A'Tuin.  On it's surface humans, dwarves, elves, and other creatures go about the business of keeping body and soul together.
This story centers around the wonderfully named Moist von Lipwig (Richard Coyle).  Orphaned as a young man, Lipwig only had two things:  an old nag of a horse, and a talent for deceit.  Painting the horse to make it look healthy, he sold it for a tidy sum, which he used to buy other old horses.  Soon his cons and schemes grew bigger and more daring, culminating in a forging a series of bonds that nearly caused the city of Ankh-Morpork to go bankrupt. 

Unfortunately Lipwig didn't realize that the chief of police in Ankh-Morpork was a werewolf, who easily tracked him down based on the scent he left on the forged bonds.  He was sent to prison and summarily hanged... and that's when his story get really interesting.
It's really hard to hang a man so that his neck doesn't break but so that he does pass out.  Luckily Ankh-Morpork has an expert hangman, and that's exactly what he did with Lipwig upon orders of Lord Vetinari (Charles Dance).  The Lord has a problem.  He likes to play a chess-like game with an opponent in another city, but with the post office closed he has to rely on the Clacks, a sort of non-electric telegraph with lights and lots and lots of string.  With the Clacks frequently down, playing chess can be quite irritating.
So Lord Vetinari offers Moist von Lipwig a choice:  he can either die a horrible death, or take over running the post office.

Arriving at his new employment Lipwig discovers hundreds of thousands of undelivered letters, a staff of two slightly deranged postmen (one who collects pins... as in needles.  But definitely not nails), and a Golem who is assigned to both protect Lipwig and make sure he doesn't leave the city.
That would be more than enough problems for anyone, but it's just the start for Lipwig.  The CEO of the Clack company, Reacher Gilt (David Suchet from the ITV Poirot series) doesn't like the competition, especially since Lipwig is really good at convincing people to return to the post office, and decides to have him killed, and barring that, disgraced.  Poor Lipwig also falls for the owner of the local Golem store, Adora Dearheart (Claire Foy), who cannot stand the slick and conniving postmaster.  Still, Lipwig thinks he has a chance with the girl until he realizes that one of his cons indirectly ruined her family.
Terry Pratchett's are filled with amusing scenes and ideas and this production did a great job of bringing those to life.  The story isn't an outrageous comedy like The Hangover, rather it's a series of cute and accurate send-ups of modern life that will leave you smiling for most of the film's running time.  I particularly enjoyed the whole Victorian-era Internet, the Clacks, and the group who try to befuddle the system, self-described clacks-crackers named "The Smoking Gnu."  The whole subplot on pin collecting is a hilarious satire on collecting in general.  Just the names of the magazines released for pin-enthusiasts are wonderful:  Practical Pins, World of Pins, Pins Monthly, New Pins, Modern Pins, Pins Extra, Pins International, Talking Pins, Total Pins, Pins and Pinneries, or Extreme Pins which features women in leather outfits all holding pins.  Of course the 'genuine collector' goes for Strictly Pins.

The actors all do a fine job and manage to bring the characters to life without chewing the scenery of dramatically overacting, which would be very easy to do given the material.  The play their parts nicely, especially Claire Foy who stands out.
The one aspect that really brings the novel to life however is the sets and scenery.  They went to a lot of trouble to make the city of Ankh-Morpork looked like a real, lived-in city.  This attention to detail really paid off and made the show much, much better than it otherwise would be.

The DVD:

This film, which consists of two one and a half hour segments, comes on two DVDs (the second is reserved for extras) in a standard keepcase.
The stereo English soundtrack was clean and clear, though I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't a 5.1 mix like the previous Discworld adaptation.  The dialog was clean and clear and the background sound effects were mixed at a nice level.  There really isn't anything bad to say about the audio.
Filmed (and broadcast) in HD, this DVD version of the movie looked wonderful with a very good level of detail and nice strong colors.  The blacks were spot-on and the whole image just looked great.  A nice looking DVD.
Unlike the previous two Region One DVD releases of the Discworld movies, this one has a good amount of extras.  First off there's a five-minute introduction by author Terry Pratchett where he tells about the filming in Hungary and the problems he had with his one scene.  There's also a commentary track with director Jon Jones who discusses the problems of adapting a book in a popular series.
Jumping over to disc two, there is over an hours worth of interviews with the cast and crew (and Discworld fans) several deleted scenes, and a gag reel.
Final Thoughts:
This was a funny, touching, and all around clever adaptation of a great book.  The Discworld really comes alive in this quality adaptation of Terry Pratchett's book.  Highly recommended.

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