Finally got a few spare hours in which to watch this, thanks to Sky+.
I have to say, I was very impressed with the show and thought it was several orders of magnitude better then the previous two mini-series Sky have been involved in. I thought that Hogfather was a bitter disappointment and CoM/TLF could and should have been far better than it was, but was ruined by train wreck levels of bad casting.
Going Postal on the other hand, was the first time I've seen a TP book adapted to the screen wherein the actors actually capture the essence of the characters they're portraying (with one exception, more on that below). Richard Coyle played a man coming to terms with the enormity of his previous crimes perfectly, David Suchet was his usual exuberant self, Claire Foy was magnificent as Adora and Charles Dance was a revelation as Vetinari. Andrew Sachs was better than he's been in years as Groat and Ian Bonar was equally good as the awkward Stanley. I thought all of the main characters were portrayed with uniform excellence. Even the tweaking of Mr Pump made perfect sense within the way was story was told on screen.
As far as plot goes, there were some pretty obvious changes from the book. The Sorting Machine in particular was conspicuous by its absence, but I don't think that in any way detracted from the main story. The Sorting Machine was never more than a MacGuffin to begin with, the real story of Going Postal is Moist von Lipwig and his gradual transformation from selfish, arrogant thief, to principled, cocky smart arse who wants to atone for past wrongs.
In the books this takes place in a reluctant internal monologue; Moist can barely admit to himself, let alone others, that he's ready and willing to seek redemption. That sort of thing just doesn't work on screen, as anyone who's seen the original cut of Bladerunner with its droning voice over will tell you. Because of this, Mr Pump becomes a strange Jiminy Cricket style character, constantly prodding at Moist and reminding him of who he was previously and what he had done, while the letters become a sort of Greek Chorus on Moist's past crimes. Choices which I thought worked very well for a screen adaptation of a book which takes place mostly inside the head of a character whose internal monologues are totally at odds with his external actions. Moist is an unreliable narrator of his own behaviour in the novel, lacking the self awareness to fully understand his own feelings and actions. In order for him to be a believable lead character on screen, this process needs to take place externally. The telly is a visual and visceral medium, after all. That's why the X Factor gets higher ratings than Steven Poliakoff dramas.
There were other changes, bits and bobs of cutting and pasting. Moving the order scenes happen in, tweaking characters to better fit an entirely different medium of storytelling or their canonical physical appearance to suit the right actor to capture the essence of said character, keeping the budget at sensible levels, time restraints, pacing and so on and so forth. All of them made perfect storytelling sense to me, with one glaring exception... The fact that Angua changed in front of other people
. This seems to have been done purely to squeeze in a werewolf effects shot and leaves some glaring holes, should any City Watch book be adapted in the future.
Did it stick faithfully 100% to the book? Nope, but if you want the book, then read the book
. Did it actually bring to a thoroughly different medium the essence of the book's story and plot? With resounding success, I thought.
Overall, a 9/10 would be my mark. Far better than the 3 I would give Hogfather, or the 5 I would give CoM.