Once in a blue moon something so wacky comes around that it’s actually endearing. This ITV miniseries falls into that category. Something about it is completely crazy, making you wonder if it even has one ounce of sanity, but yet on the same side of that, its characters (somehow!) ground the production.
Life is just one big opportunity. When you are left to your own devices, and nothing but the clothes on your back and the “family nag,” things can look pretty bleak …unless you are Moist Von Ludwig (Richard Coyle), a budding con man. Following the death of his parents, Moist is left with next to nothing but with some boot polish, he transforms his sorry excuse for a horse into an impressive stallion and his career is born. In the years that follow, he tries (and succeeds!) every con in the book and when that runs out, he begins writing chapters himself. Finally caught by authorities with a whole litany of just the crimes they can prove, Moist’s spirits while imprisoned are kept positive at the thought of freedom, but alas when he does break-through all that is awaiting him is a sliver spoon. The next morning he is taken to the gallows but somehow escapes death when instead of waking up in the hereafter, he finds himself in a coffin – a little worse for wear. Waiting on him in the room is the formidable Lord Vetinari (Charles Dance). Vetinari gives Moist one of two choices: either open the now debunk post office… or suffer a painfully long death. Accepting, Moist knows all he has to do is pretend to follow their rules until he has a moment to himself, little knowing that his parole officer – a large clay-like creature named Mr. Pump is hot on his trail.
Moist isn’t the only one displeased at his new position as postmaster. Reacher Gilt (David Suchet), owner of the telegraph service – the Clacks – is less-than-thrilled with his nemesis recruiting yet another new postmaster. With a staff that is all but incompetent – a junior postman who is nearly as old as the post office and another employee who is obsessed with pins (the kind you sew with!), Moist has his hands full. When he meets the fiery Adora Belle Dearheart (Claire Foy), he is enchanted to say the least (despite her trying to kill him at their first meeting). If that weren’t enough, then there are the ghosts haunting the post office, the strange circumstance surrounding formers post men’s deaths… and Adora’s secrets.
Does just reading the plot outline wear you out? Imagine the range of imagination you’ll be experiencing on-screen! This 2-part miniseries is enchanting in its own right – but yet not in the traditional ways. It probably could be described as a dark fairytale because the description REALLY seems to fit – as if it were tailor made for just such a production, both literally and figuratively. Tones and sets are generally very dark during the better part of the series, so much so that when there is an outdoor shot, you will notice what a difference some natural lighting makes. It doesn’t really detract from the overall mood of the story, because it is supposed to be dark – it is morbid. This is thanks in great part to its author Terry Pratchett – or so I am told. I have not undertaken any of his novels, nor am I really interested in doing so, but this miniseries is priceless… hilarious… and just plain entertaining.
Apart from the script having some truly memorable witty one-liners, the series is impressively clever in both its execution and sets. I liked how nothing ends up the same. Almost everything has a different outcome than we would visualize it being, which takes a talented writer to carry something so wacky off and still be enjoyable or “normal” enough to “get.” Or that is my take. Moist is punished for his thoughtless behavior but yet at the same time he isn’t – he is given something more valuable: a second chance. Some of us do not get that opportunity so when it presented itself, it was actually very foolish of Moist not to take it – I realize he was selfish and probably didn’t even recognize what he was being offered. For the most part, I LOVED this series. It is quirky but in the best sense of the word. The ending is adorable and should BBC ever decide to bring the sequel to the screen, I’d be anxious and thrilled to see “part two.” What could possibly be going on in Moist, Adora and Mr. Pump’s lives this go-round that would top this original miniseries!? Care to share any guesses…?
If anyone who hasn’t seen this is interested in doing so, those of us in the U.S. are in luck: we finally got this series on DVD this fall after the Brits have enjoyed it for several months now.
(Cautions: resulting from such a twisted sense of humor, siblings and/or parents might want to think twice about showing this to younger viewers. There are a couple of frightening moments such as a weird-looking vampire creature that flies and nearly succeeds in killing Moist and a brief appearance by a werewolf. A man is hung twice [non-graphic]. Implications suggest one man was beaten to death plus there are countless underhanded dealings.)