Sky 1 Goes Postal

Posted on June 9, 2010

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After the finale overload of last week, I was on the lookout this week for some new series to sink my teeth into and unfortunately fell a little short on the researching. So, possibly against better intelligence, I decided to take a look at Sky 1’s latest Terry Pratchett adaptation, Going Postal.

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Now before we go anywhere, it should be noted that while you will read other reviewers who know the history of Discworld, have read all the books and have even played computer games (though I do somewhat remember playing a Playstation demo that I couldn’t get my head around but thought the animation looked pretty. I may possibly have continued being perplexed by it had Broken Sword not suddenly appeared to kick the sh*t out of it…) I, on the other hand have little to no experience of Terry Pratchett’s work, save for attempting to read one of the numerous novels and giving up after ten or twenty pages for reasons unknown to me at the time. Possibly because I was supposed to be reading something else for college.

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Nonetheless, I decided to brave the odds and take a gander at GP, fully expecting to have to look up lots of things on the internet, or the ‘clacks’ afterwards.

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Going Postal tells the story of Moist Von Lipwig (Richard Coyle), a con-man who, after surviving a hanging, is given a second chance and the job of running the town post-office, in opposition to Reacher Gilt’s more lucrative ‘clacks’, which as far as I could gather was a telecommunications system comfortably straddling the fence between telegraphs and the internet. Throw in some haunted letters, a flying banshee assassin and a female love interest who’s portrayed with a hint a fantasy femme fatale and that pretty much sums up Going Postal. For the uninitiated anyway.

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As someone who has tried to read Terry Pratchett on a couple of occasions, I watched this show with something of an apprehension: would I get it if I didn’t read the books? The answer to that question is yes, you can get it regardless of whether you can spell Terry Pratchett or not. The show and plot is very accessible. And by the end of Part 2 I found myself really wanting to read the book and really wanting to be able to get through one of the books but I fear it may never happen. Fantasy series and films grab me as a child would a chocolate bar but somehow the books grate on me.

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Richard Coyle is excellent as Von Lipwig, an actor whom I only recently discovered in old sitcom series Coupling. He is fully believable as the charming conman but is also more than capable of pulling off the quieter soul-searching moments whilst being tormented by the vast quantities of undelivered letters in his post office. David Suchet as Reaper is perhaps a little too pantomime but that may be the way the role is written. The supporting cast are also excellent with names like Andrew Sachs (not playing a clumsy waiter), Claire Foy, and Tamsin Greig stumbling around the wonderful set in the background.

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But, as is ultimately the case in situations like these when a series is adapted and already has a huge fanbase in existence, the opinion are always going to be skewered down the middle. While I, a non Pratchett fan, could watch Going Postal, and admittedly, thoroughly enjoy it, there are undoubtedly fans out there who hated it. But that’s understandable, I have plenty of books and other series, films and whatnot that I would be very sceptical of seeing adapted, remade, etc.

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For what it’s worth though, as a non-fan, Going Postal is very entertaining, made all the more so by Richard Coyle’s lovable performance in the lead even if it is a bit strange watching him as a confidence trickster having previously seen him only as a bumbling, nervous idiot in Coupling.

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Posted in: Reviews