How about this for devotion to detail: a corridor strewn with letters stretches into the distance.
Helmer Jon Jones reveals on an info-packed P-i-P commentary that each missive is individually addressed to someone located in Terry Pratchett’s altworld city-state of Ankh-Morpork. Impressive, eh?
And the great news is, this is typical of the care invested in Sky’s third visit to Pratchett’s Discworld series, following Hogfather and The Colour Of Magic. Being the 33rd of 38 Discworld novels, non-initiates might fret over Going Postal’s accessibility.
But Jones’s adaptation delivers in broad plot strokes, allegorical suggestion and finesse alike. The main redemptive arc sees Moist von Lipwig (Richard Coyle), a conman, rescued from the gallows by Ankh- Morpork’s patrician (Charles Dance) on the condition that he takes the job of Postmaster General.
It’s a tough gig: the post office overflows with abandoned mail, previous postmasters met nasty ends, the evil chairman (David Suchet) of competing telegraph system ‘the clacks’ wants the postal system closed, and the letters themselves emit a kind of ectoplasm at night.
Can Moist restart the mail and keep himself alive? The pacing may be a little languorous but the performances, production design and puns are so well packaged, you welcome the chance to linger.
Coyle charms, Claire Foy bristles sharply as the subject of Moist’s desires, Andrew Sachs sources reserves of energy as an aged junior postman and Ian Bonar is the most endearing pin-fetishist you’ll see on screen this year.
Design-wise, a ‘clacks’ system of ticker tape and semaphore towers – Pratchett’s steampunk spin on the internet – could have tumbled from Terry Gilliam’s brain. The picture blossoms on Blu and extras are also served with relish.
Pratchett offers a witty intro over a tub of popcorn, the cast gush warmly and even fans doubling as extras get a look in. Jones’s commentary, meanwhile, highlights fleeting, quirky, delicious details: anyone else miss the mushrooms decorating an OAP’s hat?
With so much to explore, this disc won’t be labelled ‘return to sender’.
This adaptation is as welcome as a dispatch from an old friend, lovingly packaged. Let’s have the next 35 Discworld tales, express delivery.