The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy part 1

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Stormaggeddon 8 years, 9 months ago.

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    Craig @craig

    We’re currently watching City of Death, which was largely re-written by Douglas Adams. It seems as good an excuse as any to also rewatch The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

    Arthur Dent wakes up to find that his home is about to be demolished to make way for a bypass. His slightly strange friend Ford Prefect tells him not to worry about it as the world is about to end so they should go down the pub and have a few pints of beer. Seems fair enough. Remember, “Don’t Panic”.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Ahhh. The story of a book. Or is it the overall story of the film of the graphic novel of the computer game of the TV series of stage show of the book of the record of the radio screenplay? There are so many versions of Hitchhikers.

    Even though I heard most of the first radio broadcast (I missed the first part, and it was a big “word-of-mouth” thing at School) and enjoyed the other versions, somehow this, for me, is the definitive version.

    Why? I think this first episode gives most of the answers. The theme music, carried forward and expanded from the Radio show is guaranteed to bring back happy memories. It’s really distinctive, and just seemed very unusual at the time.

    Then we have Peter Jones as Narrator and Voice of the book. The calm authoritative tones that scream “Don’t Panic”. Just lovely as he delivers some of the most absurd explanations ever devised.

    Simon Jones just is Arthur Dent. Our hero is parochial, closed down and possibly a bit small minded. That mind is about to be opened up.

    Some people were upset with David Dixons casting as Ford Prefect, but I think he works well in this. Examine Ford. I mean – the dress sense is truly appalling isn’t it? Even for that period in the UK, it’s extreme. Everything clashes.

    Ford is the lofty knowledgeable one guiding the ape descended lifeform around his world, and possibly delighting in baffling him. He has a dismissive attitude to guns. Ford is practically the Doctor. Even when he was first written a large amount of the fourth Doctor appeared in him. It’s easy to see why Adams scored the Script Editorship of Doctor Who based on his radio show. It would seem a natural compliment to Tom Bakers interpretation.

    Seeing Joe Melia as Mr Prosser (head of the demolitions team) has reminded me that I was going to write something about A Very Peculiar Practice for the Peter Davison rewatch. He seemed to crop up a lot in oddly pitched comedic roles. I think he just had that face and mannerisms. In Peculiar Practice he was Ron Rust, a satirical TV writer who was driven a bit odd. No matter how absurd his latest script was, actual events overtook them.

    Above all though, it’s the visual aspect of the book. The computer graphics painstakingly animated still have never been bettered. They take the words and expand on them throwing in bizarre little jokes of their own. Its wonderful work. You look at the Babel Fish sequence and its astonishing.

    Some of the visual effects look dated, but hell – still pretty impressive for the time. I love how they keep referring to the Vogon ships as flying saucers, when they bloody well aren’t saucers!

    Cleo Rocos who appears as the silver alien drinking the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster was really familiar to me at the time through work on the Kenny Everett shows. I love the sequence with the Vogon food. Of course it tastes appalling. It looks like a desiccated blue turd covered in mushy peas!

    A lot of the jokes railing against the bureaucracies (the location of the planning documentation) probably passed me by on first watching, but the comparisons are really well done. As some of my work involves the Planning Process on occasion, the legal right to view can certainly be “stretched” by certain authorities when it suits them.

    Any similarities between Oolon Colluphid and Richard Dawkins exist entirely in your own imagination when it was first written. Some may say though that Dawkins (who is married to Lalla Ward) wouldn’t exist without the inspiration of Colluphids output. 😉

    Craig @craig

    I thought I’d post this, which is pretty close to being a work of fan genius. (It may have been posted before, but this is where it belongs). It’s slightly too wordy but, apart from that, nails it completely.

    ScaryB @scaryb

    It still feels remarkably fresh. Agree that the casting is spot on, and the decision to keep so much of Adams’ original words as a voiceover works really well (with Peter Jones voice of course).

    Am also really impressed with the graphics – it’s a very close approximation of how the interweb works now (including lots of little detail you had no chance of seeing till freezeframing the slightly dodgy VHS recording later). In fact it looks more like a modern websearch than the internet did when it first appeared in the 90s (which generally tended to be flat and fairly unimaginative). You can forgive a lot of the other FX when they spent this much time and care on the Book itself.

    There’s a lot that seems to have seeped into contemporary culture that we take for granted eg babelfish (and agree with @phaseshift about the detail of its entry), the importance of towels etc

    And yes, the dalek tribute has been around for a while, but well worth a re-post

    Stormaggeddon @stormy72

    I loved the books and still read them from time to time. I’m laughing out loud about this genius non-sense.

    I never had the chance to see any TV- or movie-production before the newest version with Martin Freeman, so I cannot compare, but I liked it (come on, Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast is a scream!).

    Never knew that it also was a radioprogramme. How is it???

    janetteB @janetteb

    @stormy72 Hitchhikers began life as a radio play. Douglas Adams then, rather reluctantly, wrote the novelisations. The TV series was made in the early 80s. I know fans of the radio play who wouldn’t go near the TV series and fans of the TV series who could not stomach the movie. (I probably belong to the later group.) I don’t know of anyone who has objected to the books other than the author himself, whose non-sense incidentally makes a hell of a lot of sense. I do recommend getting hold of a copy of the BBC TV series. Well worth it.

    @craig. Many thanks for that video. It was brilliant and shows just how well Dr Who and Hitchhikers mix. I would love to see the Guide entry for the Doctor.

    @scaryb. I agree absolutely re’ the casting. I was familair with Simon Jones from Brideshead Revisited playing a not dissimiliar character and I too love the graphics for the book. It has a lovely 80s feel so is only “dated” in the best possible way.

    Re’ the joke about the plans, like so many others in the series, it was rather spot on. I once quoted it in reference to some local council plans which were not exactly made publically accessible only to be met with a stony silence and I realised, much to my horror, that not one other person in the room had heard/read/watched Hitchhikers and that I think points to a fundamental problem with politics, it being a political meeting that I was at. My political allegiance was salvaged somewhat when a few months later I spotted a Dr Who tee-shirt at a State convention. There was hope after all..



    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Fabulous. It was only after watching it again that I realised how much of the dialogue has slipped into my own pattern of speech over the last 30 years. No wonder people respond to my conversations at cocktail parties the way they do. Mainly by moving away…

    The other thing about watching it now is how dark the premise of the story is. The obliteration of humanity. That is sort of dark. But at the time (I am, or would have been, had he lived, the same age as Douglas Adams) it captured perfectly the frustration and feeling of absurdity that seemed to typify everything about so-called civilisation. As the Vogon commander said: “Apathetic planet. I’ve got no sympathy at all.”

    Cannot wait for the next episode.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    I actually came to Hitchhiker’s Guide through the books, and then was able to get hold of an audiocassette of the radio show. I only ever saw bits of the TV version. I always enjoyed both radio and book versions for their own qualities, and so far, I’m similarly liking the TV show. They were wise to keep the structural similarities with the radio show, the lengthy guide entries, and of course the fabulous narration of Peter Jones. Comparing Geoffrey McGivern’s original performance of Ford Prefect with David Dixon’s is tricky, but I’m not sure I don’t actually prefer Dixon. He brings a particular alien oddity to the role that I quite enjoy.

    I agree that the thing looks pretty good considering when it was made, especially the computer book graphics. Seeing the physical book rather than hearing or reading about it reminds me that Douglas Adams was an early Apple adopter. The Guide doesn’t look nearly as exotic now as it would have back then.

    @phaseshift     I would suggest that while Oolon Colluphid wrote to prove the nonexistence of God (and presumably, to make a lot of money), Dawkins, although he would agree with Colluphid in every particular, is more concerned with proving the idiocy of God’s followers!

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    is more concerned with proving the idiocy of God’s followers!

    Yes. It must be so embarrassing when these blasted religious believers get a better degree class than he got. 😆

    Stormaggeddon @stormy72

    @janetteb See, that proves it,  Germany IS the white spot on the map of cool things! You hear rumours about things, but never ever get to see/hear them. That is some kind of torture!

    Stormaggeddon @stormy72

    Hmm, there went some of my post missing… 🙁

    I wanted to know if the TV adaptation was released officially?

    janetteB @janetteb

    @stormy72 I hate to disagree but Germany has Playmobil. Adelaide is the white spot on the map of cool things.

    I’m not sure quite what you mean by “released officially”. It was shown on BBC if that helps.

    @arbutus. The funny thing is that now the book looks huge and clunky compared to our smart phones. Must have been an amazing concept then, to be able to carry the repository of all knowledge in one’s pocket.



    Stormaggeddon @stormy72

    @janetteb I see what you mean. I found time to look into the first three episodes and I enjoyed them a lot, although I didn’t like Trillian that much. Thanks for the hint! 🙂

    With ‘officially released’ I meant if there are DVDs available. Are there?

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