Sunday, May 18, 2008

Small Gods: Disappointed!

As I said four weeks ago, I was very disappointed in the adaption of Small Gods - my favorite Terry Pratchett book. (A very powerful book about the ridiculousness of religion (any religion), among other things.)

It has just completed this Saturday. (The episode will be available at BBC Radio 7 for the next 7 days.

I just listened - or rather tried to listen - to the last five or so minutes of it. In the book, it's a great scene, Om zooms up to Dunmanifestin, has a fight with the other gods who are using the humans as playthings, and convinces them to appear in front of their followers, and bring peace. They say, "This is not a game. Here and now, you are alive."

Okay..unless you've read the book -- (and it appears in several of Pratchett's works) -- you might not recognize the phrase, "Here and now, you are alive," but Pratchett revisits this concept again and again throughout his work - about the preciousness of an individual's life, of the "here and now," and the different paths that can be taken...and the different futures that will result. really needs a bit of expansion for a radio episode and - the adaptor has no problem rewriting Pratchett's text throughout this adaption - but he can't expand on those two sentences here at the end??

The voicework of Barlow at this point also is, I'm sorry to say, disappointing.'s not how I heard Om speaking in my own head while reading the scene, anyway! Also, they mess around with his voice...putting it in an echo chamber. That's not necessary - Barlow could have, and should have, done it all with his own voice.

At the very end of the book. ..... SPOILERS

One hundred years have passed, and as soon as Brutha is reminded of this -- and Brutha never forgets everythingm but he had forgotten this -- he dies, as Om had foretold.

"I forgot," he says in the book. He laughs, and says again "I forgot."

But the voice actor in Small Gods doesn't laugh. He's not amused that he forgot, he's surprised. That's not the way Brutha would react.

And then...the BBC version goes silent. There's got to be at least two more minutes of the program, where Brutha meets Death, walks into the desert, and finds Vorbis, who died a hundred years ago, but has not had the courage to walk across the desert. Brutha holds out his hand, Vorbis takes it, and they begin the journey.

It's not that the radio version cut this out... it just isn't there! Something happened to the tape or something, and all we get is silence! (It also happens in a 15-minute episode of something called Brian Appleton's History of Rock and Roll, on friday, so it's got to be somethign going on with the BBC7 website...)

Anyway...I've recorded all four episodes, but I doubt if I'll ever listen to them. Small Gods deserves a much better adaption than this.

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