Happy Early Hogswatch
December 23, 2006 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Hogfather finally debuts a live action version of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. A two part, four hour mini-series that aired on December 17th and 18th on Skyone, it will re-air on December 25th and 26th. For you sad Americans not in Britain, you can sate your live action Discworld desires with The 12 Days Of Hogswatch {loud, annoying flash entry portal from Skyone's other show Project Catwalk}, the Skyone Skyone Website and The Making Of Hogfather podcast. And yes, The Grim Squeaker makes an appearance.
posted by smallerdemon (53 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Gr. Corrections:
Project Catwalk web site (above link doubles with The 12 Days Of Hogswatch link).
posted by smallerdemon at 12:30 PM on December 23, 2006

I tried to get Hogfather to read on a recent flight and the bookstore I work in was out of it! Sadness! Sad sad sad!

More sadness: I won't see the live action version because I don't live in Britain.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:32 PM on December 23, 2006

Have you people never heard of bittorrent?
posted by signal at 12:35 PM on December 23, 2006

signal: There's a lot of word on the street about bittorrent these days.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:39 PM on December 23, 2006

*gasp!* Not bittorrent! What will teh copyright kids think?!
posted by smallerdemon at 12:45 PM on December 23, 2006

Living in the US there would be no way for me to have seen this, but I've, uhh, "heard" that it's very good.

I've further "heard" that it's one of the best renditions of the Discworld universe so far. Particularly in it's depiction of Death, who is slightly more stylized than one would expect, but very well done.

I would suggest to any other USians who are fond of Pratchett's work to do everything possible to "hear" as much about this movie as you can.
posted by quin at 12:50 PM on December 23, 2006

I love Pratchett's work, but I would never watch any dramatized versions of his stuff. For me, Discworld is best seen in the theatre of the mind - what a director would come up with would never match what I've imagined.
posted by Zinger at 12:57 PM on December 23, 2006

Zinger, you might want to reconsider and watch the animated adaptation of Soul Music. The soundtrack is fantastic, and Death is voiced by Christopher Lee.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:34 PM on December 23, 2006

I thought it was good, but it was kind of fanservice. I find it hard to believe that anyone not familiar with the series would have been able to follow it very well.

As a fan, it was pretty fun.
posted by graventy at 1:37 PM on December 23, 2006

will they ever do Small Gods? (that's my fav out of his)
posted by amberglow at 1:43 PM on December 23, 2006

I watched this last night. It's good, and quite faithful.

My only two nitpicks are: 1) I never imagine Death's voice having any emotion or variance in intonation on account of speaking in UNQUOTED ALL CAPS. But I understand why you'd not want to do that in a TV show. And Death's voice actor is good, don't get me wrong. Just not how I imagine (and always will imagine) the character's voice to sound.

2) Nobby Nobbs is nowhere near disturbing enough. Admittedly, only a second Elephant Man could live up to the, um, colorful descriptions in the books.

Good stuff!
posted by sparkletone at 2:05 PM on December 23, 2006

graventy : My dear ol' mum enjoyed it, and she's never read Pratchett.
posted by kaemaril at 2:08 PM on December 23, 2006

they should have gotten Burn Gorman to play Nobby.
posted by amberglow at 2:13 PM on December 23, 2006

will they ever do Small Gods? (that's my fav out of his)

My favorite Discworld book, too, but I wonder about a movie version--you'd have to do a very, very good job with Om to avoid him seeming to be just a cheesy special effects tortoise. Although I grant there are few Discworld novels that wouldn't make serious demands on special-effects crews to render.

Anyone know if a region-1 DVD of Hogfather is a possibility? (Or tips on acquiring a code-free DVD player? I need a DVD player anyway.)
posted by Creosote at 2:37 PM on December 23, 2006

Oh, I also meant to mention that Tea-Time in this adaptation is perfect.
posted by sparkletone at 2:45 PM on December 23, 2006

I don't know if there's a region 2 release yet, nevermind region 1 ...
posted by kaemaril at 2:48 PM on December 23, 2006

Also when there is a region 2 release it will be PAL rather than NTSC so you'd need a player that can handle that conversion as well.
posted by Tenuki at 3:05 PM on December 23, 2006

I can't seem to find a torrent of it, but I'm probably not doing it right.
posted by bob sarabia at 3:11 PM on December 23, 2006

Incidentally, people who own Mein Kampf, are extremely unlikely to own Terry Pratchett, according to the LibraryThing Unsuggester. To quote Neil Gaiman: "It may be that all the people with both Mein Kampf and Guards! Guards! just aren't on LibraryThing yet, and once they join the anomaly will vanish. Or it may be that there's something to be learned from that."
posted by Kattullus at 3:23 PM on December 23, 2006

Mr. Pratchett himself makes an appearance in the production.
posted by Tenuki at 3:32 PM on December 23, 2006

smallerdemon, you've made my morning. I love the pterry with a love that knows no bounds.

sparkletone: Brisbane's Nash Theatre contains one very odd little man who manages to embody Nobby in all his glory without looking like the Elephant Man. I should know; he squatted on my couch for a few months unbidded, ate all the cheese and possibly took a spoon with him when he left. Terrifying, but true.

I am also rejoicing in the ABC's habit of buying up BBC productions in a bit way. I have little fear us Aussies will be graced with Death next year.
posted by Jilder at 3:50 PM on December 23, 2006

bob : >
posted by amberglow at 3:51 PM on December 23, 2006

I am also rejoicing in the ABC's habit of buying up BBC productions in a bit way. I have little fear us Aussies will be graced with Death next year.

Hogfather was made by Sky One, not BBC One. Opposite ends of the spectrum.

I have both episodes unwatched on my PVR. It looks good, but I've read it's confusing for people unfamiliar with Terry Pratchett. Anyone whose seen it - is this worth 4 of my time?
posted by afx237vi at 4:03 PM on December 23, 2006

I liked it, not remembering the book at all.

I thought Ian Richardson (Death's voice) was mostly good, but not really deep enough. It's hard not to think of the voice as that of Francis Urquhart in a very good adaptation of a much worse book. Indeed, death even utters Urquhart's famous "You might think that, but I couldn't possibly comment" line.
posted by athenian at 4:27 PM on December 23, 2006

Dammit afx237vi, are you trying to make me hit the torrents for it? Cause, yanno, that's what I'll have to do otherwise...
posted by Jilder at 5:05 PM on December 23, 2006

itpc? I hope someone puts those podcasts in a format us unwashed Linux types can...acquire...

Many thanks, smallerdemon. Hogfather is my second favourite P'terry book (after _Feet of Clay_. Or the Tiffany Achings, maybe...).
posted by QIbHom at 5:08 PM on December 23, 2006

athenian writes "Indeed, death even utters Urquhart's famous 'You might think that, but I couldn't possibly comment' line."

I only discovered House of Cards this summer, when I was home recovering from an emergency appendectomy. I think I fell in love. He was so brilliantly, malevolently evil, and yet you still had a grudging respect and admiration for him.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:54 PM on December 23, 2006

Gosh, I, erm, wouldn't even, ahem, think of downloading this, uhhhh, illegally... And I most certainly haven't started it...
posted by Samizdata at 7:20 PM on December 23, 2006

I absolutely didn't download it illegally. What's more, when I wasn't watching it, I wasn't struck by Susan StoHott, nor did I think that they moved all the reveals -- why they wanted the teeth, the consequences for the sun -- far, far too early.

It certainly didn't seem to me that a why-dunnit became an ordinary thriller, which I didn't think was a shame.
posted by bonaldi at 7:42 PM on December 23, 2006

Creosote - look here.
posted by porpoise at 7:46 PM on December 23, 2006

porpoise, thanks, fact of the matter is I own the imp Azureus and know how to prod him into action (and had even dropped anchor in the Bay of Pirates and seen the Hogfather bathing there amidst a crows of seeds and leeches), but Terry's an author I actually enjoy spending money on when I can. Though "pirate now, buy later" is sometimes the only real option.
posted by Creosote at 8:32 PM on December 23, 2006

s/crows/crowd/ , sorry.
posted by Creosote at 8:34 PM on December 23, 2006

Creosote, I have exactly the same sentiment. It's looking pretty kick ass so far, and I would be proud to own a full legitimate copy when it eventually becomes available.

Oh, I also meant to mention that Tea-Time in this adaptation is perfect.

It's Te-a-ti-me.
posted by porpoise at 8:59 PM on December 23, 2006

very interesting adaptation.

I'll go have nightmares about Teatime, now. (He and Susan were startlingly perfect. Made up for Nobby Nobbs, although nothing there would satisfy me unless it was a particularly ugly chimpanzee, I think)
posted by kalimac at 9:39 PM on December 23, 2006

stares at his imp impatiently
posted by Samizdata at 9:39 PM on December 23, 2006

QIbHom : itpc? I hope someone puts those podcasts in a format us unwashed Linux types can...acquire...

I heard a lot of different sources on this; thankfully because I did my research on the internet, I found that tons of people had information on the topic and I just sat back and listened for a while, eventually I had gathered enough that I had a concise and complete description of the film. You could say I put it together bit by bit.

I felt fortunate that so many people were interested in sharing their opinions on the subject; so much so, that once the details came flowing in, I had a pretty good idea of the plot, characters, script, and framing of the film within a few hours.

And after having heard all that I did, I felt compelled to add my voice to the crowd. Now that I have fully contemplated the work, I'm happy to just sit back and offer opinions on the subject.

Which I'll probably do for a week or so.
posted by quin at 12:02 AM on December 24, 2006

Oooh, oooh, oooh.

First I discover that Heroes really does live up to the hype, now it looks like I might be delighted by Hogfather!

Is it just me, or has excellent serialized entertainment been on an upswing lately?
posted by five fresh fish at 12:18 AM on December 24, 2006

I'd complain about how this post is fucking up my holiday Clean Up The Hard Drive project.

If I was, you know, downloading it or something.
posted by Cyrano at 12:28 AM on December 24, 2006

Is it just me, or has excellent serialized entertainment been on an upswing lately?

It's not just you. Insanely, even the O.C. has been good lately. Shrinking audiences and increased competition seem to be producing some gems.
posted by srboisvert at 3:24 AM on December 24, 2006

A technical observation or two ...

(Before getting bogged down in the whys and why-not's of bittorrent let me just add that I'm a UK native and saw it last week, when it was broadcast :)

The production was relatively low budget -- I gather it was filmed on about 163;3 million, which for four hours is high quality TV but an order of magnitude cheaper than midrange Hollywood theatre product -- and Terry had a big hand in it (not just the cameo at the end, but he was consulted on the script and design side). I suspect it therefore represents Terry's vision of Discworld on film pretty closely, to a similar extent that the Harry Potter movies reflect J. K. Rowling's vision.

Moreover, the audience figures were very good indeed (2.6M for a Sky drama mini-series?), which bodes well for its DVD sales and the probability of sequels being funded.

Terry has had a chequered history with the film business in the past: a previous Hollywood attempt to mutilate "Mort" allegedly resulted in Terry picking up his toys and walking out on them. Hopefully this production means that he's now got enough creative control to see that his books are filmed the way he wants them, and we'll see a whole bunch more Discworld mini-series in due course.
posted by cstross at 6:20 AM on December 24, 2006

cstross - thanks for the optimistic analysis of the situation. I for one thoroughly enjoyed this Hogfather mini and am looking forward to more along the same vein.

I like Death, especially the voice, from the animated discworld movies (Wyrd Sisters & Soul Music) far far better than Death in this one, though. The VOICE isn't low and flat enough. When Death does use inflection, it should be rare enough so it shows something significant is going on. I was also a little disappointed in the depiction of Death's domain, it turned out more "black and white" than the "shades of black" I envision when reading the books.

Susan and Teatime, on the other hand, were dead on. Except for the scythe and the sword - they were wholly too material. Seeing live-action wizards was pretty satisfying, too.

I want a Rincewind movie!
posted by porpoise at 10:59 AM on December 24, 2006

I just watched the first half. Fantastic. Another brilliant mefi recommendation.
posted by srboisvert at 11:09 AM on December 24, 2006

Is it just me, or has excellent serialized entertainment been on an upswing lately?

Yes, it has been for quite a few of years now. I kinda want to pick Buffy as the start of the trend, but I'm not so sure about that. Certainly the success HBO's heavily serialized shows (Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Cocksucker, et al.) have a lot to do with it.

But we're swimming in good TV. I mean, yeah, Sturgeon's Law still applies. For every great show, there's 3-5 crappy reality shows. But there's not just one or two good shows on anymore. There's more great stuff in current production than at any time I can remember. And the stuff you don't catch makes its way to DVD pretty quickly.
posted by sparkletone at 1:35 PM on December 24, 2006

I will admit to being quite charitable to the efforts they made to get things as right as possible, but I went into Hogfather with the view that movies and books are different mediums that require different methods of communication to their audiences. Thus, I enjoyed Death's slightly more inflective voice in this adaptation as well as the somewhat different layout of the story in order to make a filmed, visual storytelling version of the story more appealing to a wide variety of viewers, including those that may not have read the books.

I know my limits for charitable, though. *cough cough x-men 3*
posted by smallerdemon at 4:03 PM on December 24, 2006

The world definitely needs a Discworld Movie.
posted by darkripper at 4:20 PM on December 24, 2006

I very much enjoyed the show, despite having basically never read a Discworld novel in my life. Somehow I've managed to completely avoid them, while reading just about everything else in the same genre.
Susan was absolutely fantastic, and I do hope to see that actress in more roles of a similar nature.
posted by nightchrome at 5:40 PM on December 24, 2006

And Susan was, ummm, hot...

scurries away to hide in a corner
posted by Samizdata at 12:07 AM on December 25, 2006

Yeah, that's pretty much what I was trying to say without coming off like the total perv I usually am.
posted by nightchrome at 12:30 AM on December 25, 2006

Susan's pretty damn smokin', that's for sure.

I'm only about an hour into it, but they had me at David Warner and haven't disappointed yet.
posted by Cyrano at 5:02 AM on December 25, 2006

posted by rhythim at 7:40 AM on December 25, 2006

watched the 1st half--excellent!

is that Elton from the Doctor Who ep as Tea Time?
and the hippie from The Young Ones??? where's he been?
posted by amberglow at 7:05 AM on December 26, 2006

amberglow, indeed that is Elton from Doctor Who as Teatime. And yes, that's Nigel Plane, a.k.a. Neil from the YOung Ones. :)

Ian Richardson does the voice of Death. Susan is a total newcomer, as it turns out.

The guy playing Ridcully was the bad guy in Lethal Weapon II.
posted by smallerdemon at 9:20 AM on December 26, 2006

Thanks, smaller--that was a weird mishmash of an episode, but he was just incredibly excellent in it.

Susan is perfect--it's so rare to see how you picture characters while you're reading matching how they are depicted that closely. I'm not thrilled with Death, but that's costuming i think more than acting. (i love little ratDeath tho).

TeaTime is much creepier in this than in the book, i think--it's that accent maybe.
posted by amberglow at 10:26 AM on December 26, 2006

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