Going Postal (2010)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Going Postal

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 with 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.

In time, the authorities catch up to him with a whole litany of just the crimes they can prove. Thrown into prison, Moist’s spirits while imprisoned are kept positive at the thought of freedom. 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.

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 though should BBC ever decide to bring this back in some series format, I wouldn't complain.

Those in the US who are interested in this, who haven't seen this is interested in doing so are in luck: we finally got this series on DVD this fall after the Brits have enjoyed it for several months now.

(Parental review: 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.)


  1. The book sequel features Moist tackling the Banking System after his success at the Post Office. (... yeah.) I haven't read it, but I'm told by a friend it's just as funny and endearing and insane as "Going Postal" was, so hopefully ITV will take it on at some point.

    This was my introduction to Pratchett so it holds a special place in my heart; I think my morbid sense of humor enjoys "Hogfather" more but overall, I have a lot of fun with this film. If you ever read the books, they range from the delightfully absurd to the hold-your-sides funny to the blatantly satirical and at times even a touch risque, although it's always done with such a wink and a nudge that you almost don't know what just happened.

    If you ever have an inkling to read one of the books, try "Going Postal" (if knowing the end won't intrude too much on the narrative) or "Mort." I rather think "Mort" is my favorite at this point in time -- life just is never the same for Mort when he becomes Death's Apprentice.

  2. Hmmm... well, whatever the case, I knew Moist had to be up to something crazy! That plot sounds about right. =) While I haven't read Prachett's novels, I love, LOVED this miniseries. It was so weird, it was endearing. ;D

    Thanks for the book tips, Charity! I will remember them. Knowing the ending to "Going Postal" wouldn't deter me from reading it, and I think if ever I would get a book by Prachett, I'd go with something I know, and thus "Going Postal."

    (Oh, dear! Poor Mort, he does have a complicated life.)

  3. I rented this miniseries right after it came out and LOVED it -- and now I'm about halfway through the novel. All I can say about that at this point is that the film is remarkably faithful to the book, and the actors are spot-on with their portrayals of the characters. A thoroughly enjoyable, delightful surprise!

  4. I have never heard of this series either! But, it sounds fun!
    Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Ruth - glad to know that the novel is so faithful to the miniseries (or rather the miniseries was faithful to the book! Do I sense that there will be a "Going Postal" book review in the near future...?) The characters in the TV adaptation are way funny, and even without reading the book, I liked how they interacted with each other. For me, the series literally was a surprise because I just wasn't sure about it, but now I just may order if off Amazon during the Christmas ordering season. =)

    Rebekah - if your family likes wacky productions, then this fits that description to a T. It is just... crazy! =D

  6. I love this series. Moist and Adora Belle Dearheart are on my top favorite characters of all time. I need to read the book too.

    1. I really enjoyed it too, Seraphina. It's so clever and quirky, but that's what makes it good. I have a friend who loved Terry's books. I've never read them, but hear they're hilarious. :)


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