This time, the mini-series adapts Terry Pratchetts 33rd Discworld novel Going Postal (2004). Where the other two Discworld tv adaptations kept general faith with the books and were enjoyable if uneven, Going Postal disappoints. For one, Jon Jones plays the story as a standard adventure. He is aware that there is a comedy element to the story but most of this is played out at the clunky and obvious physical level of a 1970s British tv sitcom the acting is broad and over-obvious in a way that seems to be waiting for a laugh track to kick in. This is at contrast to Pratchetts humour, which mostly comes out of a dry sarcasm or a series of droll margin notes. Part of the problem is that Pratchatt started to suffer from Woody Allen Syndrome and his later books move from light knockabout comedy to more serious works with a greater emphasis on story. As a result, Going Postal seems unsure whether it wants to be a straight adventure, a fantasy comedy, or even if it is intended for adults or children, all of which appear to be the case at various intervals. There are times that Jon Jones lets things become silly most notably the scene with a possessed Richard Coyle trying to locate the treasure. At other times, Jones indulges his pretensions like staging the flashback scenes as silent movies right down to the intertitle cards.
The mini-series feels overlong and with too many subplots being wheeled around. You suspect the story would have worked better if it had been cut down to feature-length, some of the subplots dropped and the pacing of scenes tightened. Despite Terry Pratchetts preference for writing in a fantasy milieu, much of the mini-series oddly takes place as a mundane work with only occasional fantasy elements that are peripheral to the main story. It would not take too much, for instance, to rewrite the golems and ghouls as soldiers and assassins and tell the story as a standard Mediaeval historical piece with no fantasy elements. Certainly, one of the more imaginative creations is a perfectly polite golem (an appealing character voiced surprisingly by Nicholas Farrell), which is rather nicely brought to life as a CGI clay creature. In one of the more amusing pure-Pratchett moments, Claire Foy inspires the golems to go on strike for tea breaks even though they insist they do not want them.
One of the problems of the mini-series is that it allows some of Terry Pratchetts more complicated plot points to go astray. I never fully understood the process of how the hackers manage to disrupt The Clacks with their code, for instance. Also at the very end, you are not sure if the letters delivered are another of Von Lipwigs scams such as when he located the treasure or if they are the voices from the undelivered mail. For that matter, the ghosts in the Post Office are a subplot that gets scanty explanation and are forgotten about in the second half following the fire.
The mini-series has a fine cast line-up. Charles Dance adds a good deal of class as Lord Vetinari. It is also nice to see David Suchet trading in Poirot for a villainous role in black cape and eye patch. In the central role, Richard Coyle plays with an undeniable likeable charm even if he seems too well polished to be the rogue that the role is meant to be. Claire Foy has cool and acidic presence opposite him Jon Jones is more than aware of such and in one of the series sillier moments indulges himself by momentarily placing her into a whip cracking dominatrix fantasy.
Mini-series available online in several parts beginning here:-