tek's rating: ½

The Colour of Magic, on Sky One (UK) / ION (USA)
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Caution: spoilers.

This miniseries was based on the first two books of Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series, neither of which I've read, so far. But I'll say it seems kind of odd to me that the story was split into two books (published three years apart), considering the end of the first part of the miniseries (and of the first book, I suppose) is such a cliffhanger, with no resolution whatsoever. Anyway, I should also say this is the second TV adaptation of one of the Discworld books, the first being Hogfather. Um... I watched Hogfather on ION, and I recall seeing this miniseries listed on ION, but I'm pretty sure it didn't air at the time it was scheduled, but did air some other time, when I didn't get to see it. Anyway, I eventually watched it on DVD, probably a few years after it aired.

So... there's this disc-shaped planet called Discworld, which rests on the backs of four giant elephants, which are standing on an even gianter turtle, which swims through space, I guess. There's actually a lot of different stuff going on in the story. For one thing, there's a group of people who want to determine the sex of the turtle, which requires a sort of expedition off the edge of the world, in what seems like a sort of 19th century-style submersible capsule, or whatever. Meanwhile, there's this university of wizards- Unseen University- where a perpetual student named Rincewind gets expelled, having failed for 40 years to pass a single exam. Also it seems like the only means of advancement up the chain of different wizard rankings is for someone of higher rank to die, which leads some wizards to try to kill their superiors. In this particular story, there's a wizard named Trymon (played by Tim Curry) who kills several wizards, and ultimately tries to do the same to the Archchancellor, but repeatedly fails. Unseen University is set in the city of Ankh-Morpork, where a tourist from another land shows up. Apparently this guy, Twoflower, is the first tourist ever on the Discworld, tourism being a concept he himself thought up. I guess. Anyway, Rincewind ends up becoming his guide, which he doesn't want to do, but he has no choice, for reasons I won't get into. Also I should say that Twoflower has a trunk which is full of gold, and the trunk has legs, so it can move around on its own, and is fiercely loyal to its owner.

Anyway, lots of weird stuff happens in Ankh-Morpork, but before long, Twoflower and Rincewind have to leave, and have lots of weird adventures elsewhere. Meanwhile, in like the basement of the Unseen University, there's this book called the Octavo, which is chained down. It's supposed to contain the eight greatest spells in the world, I guess, though we soon learn that one is missing (and awhile after that, we learn where the missing spell is, but not what it does). Anyway, the Octavo has recently started acting strangely, like it's trying to break free of its chains, or whatever. I should also mention that Death occasionally makes appearances throughout the miniseries (he seems to be anxious for Rincewind to die, but Rincewind keeps escaping from near-death experiences). Death, btw, is voiced here by Christopher Lee, rather than Ian Richardson, who voiced him in "Hogfather."

Um... anyway, as I said, there was a cliffhanger (or technically more of a spacehanger) at the end of part one. Part two quickly resolves that, and Rincewind and Twoflower soon get back to their crazy adventures. Meanwhile, the turtle that carries Discworld is moving steadily closer to a star, which worries many people. And by the end of part one, Trymon had finally managed to kill the Archchancellor, and now assumed the position of Archchancellor, himself. He sent some wizards to try to capture Rincewind and bring him back to Ankh-Morpork, for reasons I won't get into. The wizards failed, so he sent a hero (or actually a heroine) named Herrena to capture Rincewind. I should say that heroes on Discworld don't seem quite the sort we'd call heroic, here on Earth. Not nearly as nice. But um, Rincewind and Twoflower end up being joined by a very old, but still formidable, warrior (whose name I won't reveal because I think it's a bit spoilery), as well as a young woman named Bethan. I don't really want to say any more about the plot, though I've actually left out a great many details. I'll just say that it ends relatively happily.

Anyway. There was plenty of stuff I didn't entirely follow, perhaps. I mean, in general Discworld stories aren't really meant to make sense, they're meant to be ridiculous and highly amusing, and so the miniseries succeeds. But I felt like probably some of the lack of sense-making was unintentional, possibly a result of changes that had to be made from the books. I dunno. I don't think I liked the story as much as I did "Hogfather," or the one Discworld book I've actually read, "Moving Pictures." But I'd like to read books upon which the miniseries was based, someday, as well as all the Discworld books. And I definitely did like the miniseries. You know, because it was ridiculous and funny, and reasonably interesting. (And of course, Herrena and Bethan were both easy on the eyes, as was a "dragonlady" named Liessa, who appeared briefly in part one.) I feel like there are things I'm forgetting to say, or things it hasn't occurred to me to say, but should have. But whatever. It's probably not important. It was just fun to watch, that's all that matters.

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