Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hogfather (Shitmas Hangover #1)

“Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom.”

― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

Hogfather is a mini-series first aired by the Sky One in the UK in 2006, concerning the residents of Discworld and their yearly tradition of “Hogswatch” where all the children wait for the Hogfather to slide down their chimney and deliver presents. Based on Terry Pratchett’s 20th novel set in his parrallel universe of Discworld,  the Hogfather is obviously the Discworld residents’ version of Santa Claus, and he is a constant presence in many of the other books in the series.

Discworld is a land drifting onwards through space, atop four elephants on the shell of a planet-sized turtle named The Great A'Tuin. Their culture has similarities to our own, but magic exists as a normal element of the world, and the stories set there involve clever characters and funny situations, in the gleefully satiric Python-esque style only the British can get away with. Speaking of Monty Python, alumni Eric Idle voiced Rincewind the Sorcerer in the 1995 video game adaptation,“Discworld”.

(Hogfather intro embed from Youtube)

The storyof Hogfather  goes that “The Auditors”, a sort of group of governing gods of Discworld, have decided that  their citizens would be easier to control if there were less creativity in the world. They believe that a lack of imagination makes for a population that is much easier to control. These “civil servants of everything” acquire the services of the eccentric and elegant assassin, Mr. Teatime (pronounced Tee-ah-time-eh) in their quest to rid Discworld of fantasy and magic.

According to “very old magic”, if one possesses the hair, nail clippings, or teeth of another, these items can be used to control and manipulate the previous owners. Mr. Teatime brilliantly exploits this magic by kidnapping the Tooth Fairy and taking over the beautifully-designed Tooth castle, using generations worth of old teeth to insure that children all over Discworld stop believing in the Hogfather, effectively “killing” him, and completing his contract with the Auditors.

To me, the things that make Hogfather work are the little flourishes and the dry British humor. Small scenes  like the one where the camera pans back to quickly show “Rat Death” claiming one of his victims, give the show it’s charm. The tongue-in-cheek humor is great, and often insightful gems are hidden within seemingly silly (and well-written) dialogue.
The story involves a great and colorful cast of fantasy characters, including the original Bogeyman, the God of Hangovers, a grand group of wizards (including one played by Nigel Planer, Neal from The Young Ones!), Mr. Teatime’s group of misfit assassins, and Death’s own grand-daughter, Susan.

My favorite scenes are those revolving Death himself, who dresses in the Hogfather’s red and white robes, and goes about attempting to keep the belief alive by delivering presents for the children. Some very funny scenes revolve around Death taking the children’s wishes too literally, especially in the case of one great scene near the climax of the first part, where he replaces the fake Hogfather in a department store.

The show is a fun fantasy-filled story, a definite recommended addition to any holiday collection. The story of the Hogfather may be confusing and slightly scary for little ones, but is generally pretty family-friendly, a good Christmas Eve watch (on Netflix Streaming right now!) for the whole fam. Humans need fantasy to exist, is the message of this story, a theme I am sure we can all agree with.
In the words of Death himself, “We need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become?”

I hope you guys enjoy the Hogfather as much as I did, and thanks to Shit Movie Fest for letting me be a guest on the countdown this year. 
Happy Hogswatch!
 Grade : A 

Faithfully submitted by Darth Biscuits

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