9 Pieces of Discworld We Need to See in The Watch

The situation may seem grim on Roundworld these days. But somewhere out there, on a disc resting atop four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle, things are looking up.

Yes, finally, BBC America’s adaptation of the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels is coming. Shooting started at the end of September on the eight-part series, which focuses on the misadventures of Ankh-Morpork’s wiliest, weariest most nobly downtrodden police force, the City Watch.

The Watch is slated to hit your small screen next year. And we’re having a hard time waiting to see the Disc’s harebrained version of civic duty come to life. So much so that we keep coming up with all sorts of things that just have to find their way into the show.

So grab a sausage inna bun and come along with us on a journey. Beware: Some light spoilers lie ahead for those who haven’t studied the Disc.

The City Watch
Obviously, we know the Watch is the focus of the show, but it feels important to underscore how unique this assemblage of characters is. It’s satisfying to think about how the show will highlight beleaguered Commander Sam Vimes’ weary countenance or Angua’s physical transformation from human to werewolf. How will it visualize Cpl. Nobby Nobbs’ vaguely human nobbiness, or Cheery Littlebottom’s forensic expertise? Can a mere screen capture Captain Carrot’s unspoiled wholesomeness? There’s a lot to work with when it comes to the characters of the Watch, which will be helpful as the writers condense sprawling Discworld plotlines into an eight-part series.

The Librarian
Quietly (save for the “ooks”) the most competent character of the novels—no offense intended to Granny Weatherwax—the Librarian darts in and out of most Discworld plotlines. Or, should we say, he swings in and out of them? Because the Librarian is an orangutan, you see, and also a member of the faculty at Unseen University. (It’s hard to say which of those facts is cause for greater concern.) Regardless, in the novels, his unique expertise earns him a role as, more or less, an honorary Watchman, and it would be good to see him get the respect his fellow wizards often fail to give him.

“L-space”
A running theme throughout the Discworld novels—especially in ones like Feet of Clay, a City Watch novel involving golems—is the magical capacity of the written word. With L-space, short for library-space, Pratchett takes the theme up a notch. More or less, the concept behind it is that large quantities of books have the power to warp space and time. Consequently, all libraries in the multiverse are linked in this separate dimension, navigable by trained librarians. (Ook.) We’d like to see L-space on the screen, if only so that we might get into practical questions like, what kind of cataloging system does it use?

Gaspode
Talking street dog riddled with various diseases (including chronic “licky end”) who occasionally fights crime, too. Pretty self-explanatory.

Swamp Dragons
There are real dragons in the Discworld multiverse—real, big, hulking beasts. And then there are swamp dragons, pint-sized companions who will love you and also set your end table alight. Lady Sybil Ramkin, love interest to Commander Vimes, is a storied swamp dragon breeder, so we know these little imps are bound to make an appearance. But what will be interesting is how they’re rendered, given that they’re rather tragic creatures whose frequent indigestion also frequently causes them to explode.

Death
You know a series is special when one of its fan-favorite characters is the literal grim reaper. While Death has his own series of Discworld novels, he pops up in the Watch books, too—because people have a habit of dying in Ankh-Morpork. While his part may be small, he makes an impression with every appearance. His fascination with humanity makes the moments when he must come to collect uniquely humorous and, almost as often, poignant. Bonus points if the TV series gives us a good look at Binky, Death’s flesh-and-blood white horse.

The River Ankh
Facts about the Ankh:

    • Central to the metropolitan area of Ankh-Morpork.

 

    • Rests in the center of the Venn diagram of “solid” and “liquid.”

 

    Contains more aquatic death than aquatic life.

The Patrician
Ever wondered what a city openly controlled by Mycroft Holmes would look like? Probably something like Ankh-Morpork under the rule of its latest Patrician, Havelock Vetinari. A trained assassin, a scheming diplomat, and the perfect foil/ally to Vimes, Vetinari is one of the series’ richest characters. He ranks at the top of the list of fantasy plotters, both wilier than George R.R. Martin’s Littlefinger and more overt than his Varys. Ankh-Morpork may not be pretty—may not even make sense—but it works, and that’s largely thanks to its Patrician.

Koom Valley Memorial Stamps
What an oddly specific item, you may be thinking. Yes, yes, it is. The two stamps issued in Thud! to commemorate the ancient Battle of Koom Valley feature two distinct designs: one in which the trolls are the aggressors and one in which the dwarves instigate violence. (Market segmentation, folks. It helps when your audience can’t agree on who ambushed whom.) While the stamps may not be all that important themselves, they embody the near-endless details that make a Discworld novel a Discworld novel. What we’re looking forward to, more than anything, in The Watch are these small moments that capture the absurdity and elegance of the world Pratchett created.

What’s your favorite bit of Discworld that you hope makes it onto the show?

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