Men at Arms: Hehe, see what I said about "middle Discworld" novels? Theres plenty more of the good stuff to come.
I adore this book - I'd still rank it below Guards Guards and Night watch in the Watch series, but it has so much stuff I love. I don't think its the strongest story; the Gonne changes hands a bit too often, and I never quite got why Vetinari didn't dispose of it- but it is connected by some of my all time favourite scenes and characters. Feet of Clay is a bit in the same vein; not the best story he's ever done, but some really really good themes and moments.
The Detritus/Cuddy relationship is, as you say, amazing, and definetely set Detritus on the path to becoming one of my favourites. Stuff about overcoming prejudice and hatred? Can't help but love it. And the Freezer scene was good fun.
Vimes continues to evolve, and yeah, the scene where Angua misinterprets his "list of women"...Vimes is a right cynical bastard, but he's an absurdly loveable one.
Hey man, Its been a long time-out, but I suddenly got stuck in the Exam- Trap, and kept postponing the lengthier forum posts. At your rate you're probably already at Hogfather or more, but anyway, my thoughts on the last few you mentioned:
Lords and Ladies: Yeah, the elves are the real standout in this one; it was so refreshing to see them outside of their usual Noble Tolkien-style presentation. Their reappearance in Wee Free Men is part of what makes it the best Tiffany Aching book, and I remember them being good fun in Science of Discworld 2. Other than Magrat kicking ASS, I most remember it for the Ridcully/Weatherwax shipping, which I thought was very 'Dawwwww. Along with Carpe Jugulum, its certainly the more "action packed" and tense of the Witches' novels, and it goes to show the importance of interesting antagonists.
As for Toby, the actor has said this and I agree with him... his entire final season ONLY makes sense if Toby is covering for someone. Toby never would have done that... not without arguing about it with the president for five episodes first.
So, it's never stated outright in the show. But... just assume Toby is taking someone else's blame. To protect them. There's a couple theories that make a lot of sense.
It would have made far, far more sense if Toby or Will had taken Leo's place. The reasons for Will are even stated in-episode, his father was military and thats something they needed with war gearing up. I could understand not picking Will if they'd also planned to have him stuck on the road at length... or Toby if they had already picked him out as the information leaker and not wanting to do that switch up twice, but here's the thing...
The WRITERS DIDN'T KNOW who the leaker was at the end of season 6. They didn't, its been stated in behind the scenes stuff. So really, the entire decision for CJ just makes... zero sense beyond a "well let's shuffle around the television drama some. It should have been Toby.
Though I guess maybe he and Bartlett would have argued too much.
I started watching the show when it was still airing, probably around season 3. So I watched it for years as it was going, rerunning on tv... and now watch it as background about once a year while I work. I've been with those characters a very long time.
As for why CJ? Well.. like I said, they wanted to do the "Josh runs a campaign" story, and they also wanted to do a really dramatic Leo story... and after those two had gone up and running, I assume they didn't want to have to get another main cast member never before mentioned to fill in the role when it was basically going to be pushed to the back for the remainder of the show. Made more obvious by the fact that after they promote CJ, they then have Toby, and then Will doing her former job! Absolute nonsense, none of those people would be in those roles, but it was something for the signed cast to do while the story focused on the road.
They did good with Leo, all things considered. He got a long, dramatic (if unintentional) farewell.
Though CJ as Chief of Staff makes absolutely NO sense at all... since thats the job Josh was TRAINED for and CJ had no idea how to deal with most of that stuff... but I realize they wanted to do the "Josh goes on the presidential campaign story." The real squandering however is what they did with Toby. Save THAT discussion for when you finish the series tho.
They DID mention him several times in the course of his final episodes. He actually died fairly early in the season of filming, and they moved some footage around so that there would be even *a* scene between his final appearance in running mates and the one where the character died. They did pretty good considering the limitations they had to work with. (Though obviously it completely cut short the story of him interacting with the KGB agent... and they...luckily? hadn't included him in the flashforward at the start of the season)
The tragic irony is he DID die of a heart attack in real life... and I'm sure the writers felt awful about having done that to the character just a year beforehand after that. if you consider the entire last year of episodes his farewell, however unintentional it may have been, he got a long lengthy sendoff. And he still has a presence over the funeral and the final episodes.
Yeeeah. thats about how everyone feels. There's things you can do when you know you're in your last season you can't do earlier.
But yeah, the show starts neatly wrapping things up from there.
That episode was actually broadcast live (and they had to film it twice for different time zones.) the thing is, while I always felt that Santos was kicking his ass, other people I've talked to feel that Vinnick won the debate. Just like the real thing, opinions are going to vary a lot... it wasn't scripted to give either of them a clear advantage. (Acting wise I gotta give it to Alan Alda... but then I have a super soft spot for his awesome after all those years of MASH)
And yes, it's a little crazy how closely it mirrors Obama/McCain considering it aired 2 years before that election... but maybe not *too* surprising since the characters were, coincidentally, loosely based on those politicians. (Obama had just started coming into some spotlight at the time... though he was nowhere near running when they started.)
Small Gods is something else. Upon my first read I was quick to dismiss it as "okay, but not featuring any recurring characters so eh". But upon rereading it...its potent. I don't want to spoil anything if you're not done, but I absolutely adore it.
A shallow glance might give the impression that Pratchett is anti-religion, but in truth, he's anti-Vorbis. Vorbis, who uses religion as his tool, Vorbis, unquestioningly followed by the sheepish masses, Vorbis, one of the vilest things Pratchett has created.
If theres a recurring message in Discworld, it is: Think for yourself. For the love of God, don't just blindly obey. Religion, traditions and authority can be fine, but do the world a favor and QUESTION THEM. Don't accept everything you're told. As far as messages go It doesn't get much better, and as a scientist it hits right home for me. And the great thing is, it makes for very inclusive and humanistic writing. Unfounded, irrational bigotry is called out on the Discworld.
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