Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (tv)

Part 3 in our series, the Hitchhiker’s Guide as a British TV show. And all the lovely production value that suggests. Why am I posting it so late? This must be Thursday…I never could get the hang of Thursdays…

Peter Jones …. The Book (voice)
Simon Jones …. Arthur Dent
David Dixon …. Ford Prefect
Sandra Dickinson …. Trillian
Mark Wing-Davey …. Zaphod Beeblebrox
Directed by
Alan J.W. Bell

Writing credits
Douglas Adams
Buy from Amazon.com

High Point

I hate to sound like a broken record, but the Guide sections really stand out – the pseudo-computer-generated graphics are especially impressive for having been done by hand, and offer a distinctive style that I really like.

Low Point

The casting for Trillian. Nothing against her acting, but a) she’s not supposed to be blonde, and b) she’s supposed to be a confident, strong, intelligent woman. Not a ditz who happens to have brains.

Review

Working our way through the incarnations of the Guide, we come to the redheaded stepchild. I don’t know anyone who considers this a work of high art – it’s usually just mentioned as a mistake, if it’s mentioned at all. Still, there are those of us that appreciate it for what it is, and know that, as bad as it was, it’s still probably better than what American film producers would do to it. Of course I speak out of turn – I haven’t actually see what American film producers have done to it. But I will. And you’ll get my opinions on that tomorrow.

Following, again, the same general (But not specific) plot of the story as reviewed here before, the discussion thereof would tax your attention not to mention my fingers. And so I move on to the scores – which I’m going to actually assign scores for.

The Scores

Originality? You’re kidding. I mean, granted, it’s a rip-off of a rip-off, but then again, it’s the first television adaptation of the source material by the guy that wrote it all in the first place…so….hm. 3? 4? I have to go with 3/6.

The Effect are what this otherwise decent production is fairly well torn apart for. While they use most of the sound effects from the original radio show and, as mentioned before, the Guide sections are quite impressive, the other effects are all horrible. Zaphod’s second head, most of the sets, and just about any other visual effect in the show betrays the abysmal budget they had. Still, the Guide graphics count for enough that I can give it a 3/6 instead of a 2.

The Story…is the same as before. Again. In previous instances, this was the problem area. But when it comes down to scoring, this one gets a high 4/6.

The Acting was, on the whole, good. Trillian was off, but I blame the casting and production for that (I hated the outfit too) Most of the actors were the originals from the Radio show, and you know how much I liked them. 5/6 – losing one point because the actors were very definitely more used to radio work.

Emotional Response: I giggled as much with this version as I did with each of the previous ones. Sight gags added to the guide sections kept everything fresh, and even my wife (who can’t sit through the radio plays and doesn’t feel like reading the book) laughed as hard as I did. 6/6.

The production is where I come down on their choices for Trillian – she alone knocks two points off (based on our ratings guidelines) and in the end I can only give a few points for the sound (which was good for a piece from the BBC during this time) and some other things, so I give it a 2/6..well…the DVD has a few really good, well produced features…3/6.

Overall, this is one of those things you should only really go watch if a) you’re a huge Hitchhiker’s Guide fan or b) you want to know about this Guide thing and don’t feel like reading or listening to an mp3. Or if tomorrow’s movie is horrible. we’ll see. So, 3/6.

In total, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (tv) recieves 27/42.

10 replies on “Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (tv)”

  1. Timeshredder says:

    They did well with little money…

    Save for a review of the radio show I read in… Heavy Metal? Epic?… This show was my introduction to the Guide and, having watched the entire thing three times in my life, I have to say, I find that it holds up. They do pretty good things within the limits of their Dr. Who budget. It’s not great, and I kept wondering what it would look like with actual money behind it.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: They did well with little money…

      …But those problems aside, the show communicates the concepts and the humour.

      • hitch says:

        Re: They did well with little money…

        …But those problems aside, the show communicates the concepts and the humour.

        indeed. this quickly becomes a discussion of the relative merits of dr. who style effects that just suggest what’s going on and, for example, B5 style effects that detail it for you. I always felt that the humor, coming from the situation and dialog, rather than visually, was always detracted from by the effects being off, rather than added to. You are, by the way, the first person I’ve ever known to have been exposed to *this* first.

        • Sprydle says:

          Re: They did well with little money…

          I always felt that the humor, coming from the situation and dialog, rather than visually, was always detracted from by the effects being off, rather than added to. You are, by the way, the first person I’ve ever known to have been exposed to *this* first.

          My first exposure to the HHGTG series was from a friend at school, who was laughing from reading the book. When I heard it was going to show up on TV, it was the first thing I ever recorded on my brother’s VCR. Mind you, this was when VHS first hit the market, and I almost wore out that tape from watching it so many times.

          One of the best times B5 for the humor and visuals right was in the episode where they opened up a B5 Shop in the Zocalo, which ticked off Sheridan so much that he eventually shut it down. The last scene was a StarFury out in space checking out an unrecognized object in the sector. He was flying along, when a teddy bear whacked the his canopy and slowly shot off of it. If you were paying attention, you’d also see that the teddy bear was on the pilot’s scanner, and the scanner showed the exact same motion of the teddy bear as it worked its way off the canopy.

    • Canthros says:

      Re: They did well with little money…

      Save for a review of the radio show I read in… Heavy Metal? Epic?… This show was my introduction to the Guide and, having watched the entire thing three times in my life, I have to say, I find that it holds up. They do pretty good things within the limits of their Dr. Who budget. It’s not great, and I kept wondering what it would look like with actual money behind it.

      This was my first introduction to tHHGttG as well: I caught the landing on Magrathea on PBS one night during middle school, I think. It was at least a few years before I got around to reading any of the books, and I didn’t finish the last two until I was in college.

      When I go see the new film, it’s actually going to be the TV show that they have to overcome in my mind.

      • hitch says:

        Re: They did well with little money…

        Save for a review of the radio show I read in… Heavy Metal? Epic?… This show was my introduction to the Guide and, having watched the entire thing three times in my life, I have to say, I find that it holds up. They do pretty good things within the limits of their Dr. Who budget. It’s not great, and I kept wondering what it would look like with actual money behind it.

        This was my first introduction to tHHGttG as well: I caught the landing on Magrathea on PBS one night during middle school, I think. It was at least a few years before I got around to reading any of the books, and I didn’t finish the last two until I was in college.

        When I go see the new film, it’s actually going to be the TV show that they have to overcome in my mind.

        on the one hand, my instant smartass wants to say “shouldn’t be hard”….on the other hand, from what I’m hearing, they probably won’t. I’m wondering how people will react if my review of the movie consists of “never speak to me of this again.”

        We’ll see.

  2. Captain_Avatar says:

    Marvin was Lame
    I wasn’t very happy with the way Marvin The Paranoid Android was depicted. The costume was pretty lame to say the least. Way to “Rockem-Sockem Robot” like.

  3. hitch says:

    Something I forgot to mention
    the DVD includes a very nifty function where it overlay’s, pop-up style, little interesting tidbits about the proudction – for example, where you can see the second set of legs that provide zaphod’s third arm, and where you can see the production van in-shot. worth checking out.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Out the airlock

      Ha! The TV Marvin makes a cameo in the film.

      Anyway, the series was cheap and slapped-together, but it was the guide. The movie is amusing, but about a half-hour in it starts treating the source material the way Kirk treated the Prime Directive.

  4. Trekkie says:

    Slightly OT Invsotext question
    Anyone else viewing this in Tiger and unable to highlight the inviso text and see
    what it is?

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