Hogfather on Sky One (UK) / ION (USA)
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Caution: potential spoilers.
Once upon a time, I chanced to read a Terry Pratchett novel called "Moving Pictures" (it was in a grab bag I ordered from SFBC), one of many fantasy books he's written that are set on the Discworld. I loved it, and always have intended to read the whole series eventually, but to date, I haven't read any more, I'm sad to say. The series is quite strange and amusing, in a Douglas Adams-y sort of way. In any event, one of the books is Hogfather, upon which this TV miniseries is based. Since I haven't read the book, I can't say how close the adaptation stays or far it strays from the source material, though I'd certainly like to read the book someday. I don't doubt I missed out on some things. And to be honest, while watching the movie on ION, I didn't really follow absolutely everything that happened. But I shall do my best to summarize.
It is set on the night of Hogswatch Eve, which is much akin to our own Christmas Eve. (I expect I could put links to this review in more than one of my review sections, but because of this similarity to Christmas, I put the primary link in the Christmas TV movies section.) In fact there are a great many similarities between our world and Discworld, but I won't dwell on that now. Um... there is a guild of assassins, and on this night, a supernatural entity, one of a group of "Auditors of Reality," approaches Lord Downey, the head of the guild, offering a contract to have the guild kill the Hogfather (who is much like our own Santa Claus/Father Christmas). Of course, being an anthropomorphised personification, rather than a real, living mortal, the Hogfather would be hard to find or kill by normal means. Still, Lord Downey assigns the job to Mr. Teatime (pronounced Tee-a-tah-may), who's quite crazy, and had already given some thought as to how to kill various imaginary beings such as the Hogfather.
Well, Teatime gathers a group of thieves, plus a rogue wizard, and they capture a tooth fairy named Violet. Then they infiltrate the Tooth Fairy's castle to enact Teatime's plan. He's trying to get to the main Tooth Fairy, who is behind a big locked door, I guess. Meanwhile, they get together a big pile of teeth and use magic on the teeth to, I guess, control the beliefs of the children the teeth came from. I guess the way to do away with someone who only exists because they are believed in, is to stop people from believing in them. But really, I didn't follow absolutely everything Teatime was trying to do.
Meanwhile, Death discovers that these people are trying to kill the Hogfather, who has apparently disappeared already. I didn't really catch what happened to him, but he wasn't dead... he was just... gone. Anyway, there's something about the origins of the Hogfather; in ancient times, he was responsible for making the sun rise, apparently. And then there's something about how his disappearance could lead to the end of humans believing in anything fantastic, which would be terrible. And as Death has come to like humans, he dresses as the Hogfather, and goes around the world delivering presents, along with his servant, Albert, who's dressed as an elf. (Which kind of reminded me of The Nightmare Before Christmas.)
Meanwhile, two children named Gawain and Twyla have a governess named Susan, who fights off the occasional monster that wants to eat the children, I guess. The parents believe this is just pretend, but of course it's not. In any event, it eventually turns out Susan is the granddaughter of Death, and has a few supernatural powers, such as walking through walls. When she learns what her granddad is doing, he forbids her to get involved, but of course she does, anyway. She tries to find out what's happened to the real Hogfather, and does what she can to put a stop to Teatime's plans.
Meanwhile, there is a group of wizards with problems of their own, as it appears that suddenly, imaginary personifications they talk about jokingly, start popping into existence, most notably Bilious (Billy), the God of Hangovers, who um... I guess Susan rescued from the Hogfather's castle of bone, as it was crumbling. And so she took him to the Unseen University of wizards, so they could sober him up. And after that he tags along with her to the castle of the Tooth Fairy, where they meet Violet.
Well, I don't really want to say too much else, I think I've remembered all the major players. But there are plenty of lesser ones, and um... I'm leaving out plenty of stuff, some of it which I didn't quite follow, and some which I more or less did. But it's all rather complicated. Still, it's interesting, and amusing, and nicely weird, and there's all sorts of stuff mixed in, much of which is directly from our Earthly folklore, and much which is only slightly tweaked for Discworld. And Death explains some things to Susan, toward the end, about the nature of human belief, which is actually rather moving, I thought. (That scene was perhaps my favorite of the movie. Although I liked quite a few bits, including a line of Death's, who is voiced by Ian Richardson, a line similar to one of Richardson's lines in the completely unrelated BBC miniseries "House of Cards.") In any event... of course things ultimately turn out well, but that's all I can think to say, especially without spoiling anything. But, yes, definitely an enjoyable show.