Imagine a world that is completely flat, atop four elephants that are standing on the shell of a giant space-traveling turtle.
Now, if you can deal with that, then "Terry Pratchett's Discworld Collection" is the next logical step. It brings together two cartoon adaptations of Pratchett's deliciously offbeat fantasy world -- witches, Death, evil kings, talking kingdoms, and music with rocks in. The animation is a bit rough, but the quirky characters and intricate fantasy plots make it all worthwhile.
"Wyrd Sisters" starts on a stormy night. And three witches are abroad -- upright Granny Weatherwax, tipsy Nanny Ogg and new-agey romantic Magrat. Elsewhere, the king is murdered by his scheming cousin Felmet, and remains a ghost haunting the castle of Lancre, and his baby son ends up in the hands of the witches. The witches immediately foist the baby off on a traveling band of actors ("He killed him! And right up in front of everyone!"), and keep an eye on the new royals, the mentally unstable Duke Felmet and his nasty, schemey wife.
Unfortunately, they also hate witches. As taxes rise and the witches are persecuted and blamed for everything that goes wrong, Granny starts hearing strange cries out in the night -- the land itself is unhappy with Felmet's reign. And to deal with this nutty usurper ("Is this a dagger I see before me?" "No milord, it's just me handkerchief"), it will take the most magic the Wyrd Sisters can summon up -- not to mention a ghost, Death, and a long-lost prince...
"Soul Music" also opens on a stormy night, when Death's daughter and her husband die in a fiery carriage crash. Her death nags at Death, leaving him wondering what the meaning of life is. And when Death vanishes, his young granddaughter Susan is summoned by the Death of Rats and a talking raven -- turns out she has the power to do Death's job. Meanwhile, a young aspiring bard, who renames himself Bud Y Celyn, leaves home for Ankh-Morpork, befriends a couple of other aspiring musicians, and ends up forming a rock band -- with a strange magical guitar that instantly turns him into a "music with rocks in" star.
But that powerful guitar is also messing up the normal death cycle, and is exerting a strange power over the people who hear it -- even the wizards of Unseen Academy are affected. And as Susan finds herself increasingly drawn to this tormented young musician, she finds that she may not be able to deal with the power of his guitar. But can Death himself do the job?
You can probably depend on anything written by or based on something by Terry Pratchett to be hilarious, well-written and deliciously unpredictable. "Wyrd Sisters" and "Soul Music" are no exception -- both are quite faithful to the original novels by Pratchett, and are crammed with tiny homages and well-loved characters, such as Nobby Nobbs, Ridcully, the Death of Rats, the Librarian, and many others.
And both stories take awhile to unfold, letting events gradually build up to a stunning climax, and weaving intricate storylines with lots and lots of supporting characters. At the same time, he interweaves a lot of deeper questions into his storylines about love, death and minding your own business. And Pratchett doesn't skimp on dramatic, intense scenes, such as Susan seeing what happened between her parents and her grandfather long ago, and the tragic results.
All this, and we get to see Nanny Ogg sing the song about how the hedgehog can never be "whassnamed" at all. Yeah, there's a lot of deliciously warped humor -- a ghost misplacing his head, Granny's undignified flight around the kingdom, the witches summoning a demon, Death's searches for meaning ("I've seen the infinite... it's nothing special"), and Granny's inability to grasp that the theatre is all pretend ("It's been a long time since I've seen a theatre played properly!").
Here's a warning -- the animation is quite rough and lacking in dimension. Some of the characters are kind of goofy-looking, particularly the wizards, but it's not the worst I've seen.
In fact, you don't notice the animation so much when you notice the brilliant characters. The witches are fun counterpoints to one another, and they have a castleful of deranged tyrants, weary Fools, whiny demons and one very bored royal poltergeist. And Susan comes across as a sort of younger Granny, while Buddy's bandmates provide a sort of "real-person" presence. And the wizards are just all crazy.
And Christopher Lee is simply perfect as Death, Discworld's endearing incarnation of expiration. He gets all the great lines too ("Oh BUGGER!" he exclaims as he drives off a cliff), and even a scene where he suffers from stage fright.
"Terry Pratchett's Discworld Collection" suffers from some rough animation, but it has vast casts of likable weirdos and strange magics. Definitely worth checking out.