Sam Vimes might be the last good man in a distant, second hand set of dimensions where crime is legalised, criminals can travel through time, and dragon attacks are a pressing concern. Still he’s got a few friends, half a bottle of booze, and plenty of eye liner to face the problem in ….
With the book revealed to be able to summon dragons it seems that there are now enough pieces on the board for the show to settle down a little and try and find its feet. It doesn’t help that thanks to the breka neck pace of the first episode we know that not only does Carcer have the stolen nook but the book itself it what has allowed them to summon dragons to attack the streets. Heck compare this to the book where they didn’t even believe that their was a dragon attacking the streets for some time. It ruins the underdog downtrodden nature the series wants. Carrot has already managed to gee the force into action to investigate the matter and you’re already closer to the later books than the first. It plays a little too hard into that old t.v trope of lone wolf bad arses who care for nowhere choosing to fight for the side of good over the space of an ad break.
The person they’re chasing is Carcer but also Wonse who has picked up some of the traits of Eskarina Smith as she now works at the university not allowed to practice magic as a member of the weaker sex. This helps flash out a fairly weak villain from one of the earlier books; back when laughs and puns ruled the day. Heck this could be seen as true for Carcer who was a simple man in the books out to kill and hurt others for his own sick enjoyment. This is not that man by any stretch of the imagination. The thing is that the bad guys in the books were often a little under served to give plenty of time with our main cast and crew and none of them have really come o the fore yet to justify why we’re following them instead of Carcer. Wit the slower pace this week we do spend some time with them and you end yp seeing that Cheery appears to be fearing the ‘summoning dark’ in a slightly forced and foreshadowing kind of way and Angua seems to have at least a bit more to say about her werewolf nature though I’m aware we’re only in episode two and these are being forced to the front as opposed to coming up more naturally meaning I’m aware they may not be able to make these last. The most telling point for this will be the episodes biggest spoiler and the biggest diversion from the books. Vimes was talking to Death last episode as he was about to die but he is saved at the last minute by Detritus. Now you may think that a towering rock man would be fine against a crossbow bolt or two but it isn’t and he is taken down and killed in the opening minutes.
First off I should say that I assume Cheery carrying a lump of him round is going to come into play at some point to bring him back but I think the bigger thing is that I didn’t care. I’m not going to claim I’m a huge fan of the character from the book but I guess even as someone coming to this fresh I should feel a little bit more than I did. Worse is that it feels like the show didn’t care much either. We open with Vimes in a bar drowning his sorrows over the death of a friend and then it’s on with business as though he never existed. I’m gonna guess this was supposed to shock new comers by saying that nobody was safe but in truth it felt like one of those wishy washy trope versions where we’ll kill off someone at the start to make you think that we could kill anyone at the drop of a hat but in truth their all safe with locked in contracts. It may even be a way of telling old book fans that this isn’t the source material and they’re willing to try new things but we already saw that from the trailer alone.
This episode is far better than the last. As I said they have slowed down somewhat and I’ll even admit there were more than a few moments where I did laugh at an intentional joke or two. The plot itself unfolds a bit more but it does so in a way that suggests that they are struggling to balance their duties. This episode centres on Unseen University and there is a fair amount of world building from this with the explanation that the more advanced tech, than we would be used to, is the result of the arch chancellor. However we also need to slip in some references and jokes such as round world and Ridcully being unable to swear due to a backfired spell. On top of this we need to get in some plot and thus you end up with a bunch of police officers who don’t really do any police work no matter how much they try and show the relationship between Carrot and Vimes developing over the subject of paper work. Instead of any real work, on behalf of the officers and the writer, there is instead a magical room in the library that allows you to read people and this is used to give our leads their next bit of the plot rather than any investigations.
If you’re a die hard Pratchett fan you’ve probably already turned off and I couldn’t say I blame you. Nor are you missing that much. For everyone else I can see this being one of those series that takes a season to find it’s feet. Like shake out all the references and in-jokes and realise what works and come into series two fresh faced and ready to go. The fact that I think this was dead on arrival. Pushed out the door for soaking up too much money on it’s ten, or so, year journey from office to office, department to department until someone just said they wanted it done and over with so they can try and get something back on the bargain bin DVD sales.