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3.4 out of 5 stars60
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 31 January 2011
When HotT was first broadcast, I recorded it from the radio. Now, all these years later, I finally get the chance to listen to it without interference.

I remember listening to it and chuckling most of the way through, laughing out loud at some of the antics of Crown Prince Vegenin and Agar son of Athar. The acting (or, rather, overacting) by the strong cast (Paul Eddington, Frank Middlemass, Simon Callow, etc.) is great tongue-in-cheek stuff. Patrick McGee's 'narration' is nonsense, and the better for it.
Listening to these CDs, I am reminded why I found it so funny, though, with my adult sense of humour, I didn't find it quite as sidesplitting as I did when I was 18.

Yes, it is silly at times. Yes, many of the names are jokey parodies from a bygone era (the 80s) and have no meaning to many listeners nowadays. Yes, there is still much to chuckle at.
It isn't a gagathon in the style of Bored of the Rings, but that was never its intention.

I would say that HotT is reminiscent of early Terry Pratchett books - laugh out loud funny when they came out but still humourous on subsequent reading.

For the sake of a few pounds HotT was a good purchase. It isn't going to make you wet yourself but is a at least as funny as a modern series such as Elfquest.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Of course, silliness is pretty much unavoidable when parodying the fantasy genre, which is often perilously close to unwitting self-parody itself, but this four part radio series from 1980 is never quite as funny as it could be. Only loosely spoofing Tolkien - there is a Dark Lord threatening the kingdom of MiddleSea but for the most part it's a generic hero on a quest tale - it's at its best when Patrick Magee is delivering utterly nonsensical background narration worthy of Spike Milligan with a straight face or when Paul Eddington's hopeless king is obsessing over petty laws or appeasing evil overlords with trade agreements (trading all the kingdom's virgins for one walnut seeming a perfectly equitable arrangement in view of the kingdom's balance of trade figures). It certainly boasts a impressive cast - Simon Callow, Frank Middlemass and Yes, Minister creator Jonathan Lynn are in there too - but at times it feels like it's trying too hard to be a fantasy equivalent of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy without ever quite finding the right tone to marry the script's nonsensical wordplay to the occasional schoolboy plotting. The result is something that's sporadically funny but overall just too inconsistent to work as well as it wants to.
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on 25 October 2009
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I love fantasy, but have to admit it's not hard to poke fun at it, once it puts on its serious hat and starts talking in Thee's and Thou's, and giving things aggrandising names like the Mount Vazarpithur the Dark, or The Tower of the Kwarg (both from the Hordes of the Things map that comes with this CD). But to make a really successful fantasy spoof -- like, I think, the recent Radio 4 series Elvenquest (BBC Audio) was -- you have to give your listener more to stick around for than merely the next punchline. You have to give it story and characters. ElvenQuest did -- so what about Hordes of the Things?

Well, I'd say, yes and no. But more no. Certainly, Hordes of the Things has a lot of funny things going on in it. The Conference of All Wizards, where Radox the Green and his chums get together to discuss defeating evil rather than actually doing it, was certainly funny. And the Dread Sphynx of the Caverns with the head of a snake, the body of a snake, and the tail of a snake... which makes it just a snake, doesn't it? But elsewhere, Hordes suffered, oddly enough, from too much wit. How can that be? Well, to really work, the sort of verbal whimsy the show makes use of, needs to be read, so you can pause to roll the joke around in your mind for a bit and really get it. On the radio, it's often over before you've registered it (or, as is unfortunately the case with the narrator of Hordes of the Things, before it's been mumbled or muffled and lost to the listener). Radio humour needs broader strokes (or multiple listenings -- I suspect Hordes may be funnier the second time round, but haven't yet tried it), and it also needs to give the actors more leeway to bring character humour into it. Hordes' script didn't seem to leave the actors much room to bring anything of their own to it. (Which is a pity, as there's a lot of good names here, including Simon Callow, Paul Eddington, and a brief Miriam Margolyes (if there is such a thing as a brief Miriam Margolyes)).

It doesn't really work on the story or character level. This might sound nitpicky criticism for what is, after all, a spoof comedy, but the best comedy works as much as drama as it does as a series of jokes. Having listened to Hordes, I don't really feel I've been in the presence of any real characters (apart from Radox the Green, who I warmed to), nor has the story been much more than a framework to hang gags on. The ending is, when it comes, a non-ending, making me wonder if they were hoping for a second series to be commissioned.

Having said all this, I'm feeling I've been a bit harsh. There were enough funny moments to make it worth a listen and, now I know not to expect too much of it, perhaps even a re-listen, to try and catch some of those more whimsical jokes.
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VINE VOICEon 26 January 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I remember listening to this on the radio way back in the 80's and was keen to relisten. At the time I thought this was an hilarious mickey-take of Lord of the Rings, and I seem to remember it followed hot on the heals of "The Hobbit" being repeated.

Alas it has not aged well. Whereas Douglas Adams could write parody and still make a compelling and realistic science fiction story, this develops quickly into schoolboy farce. Peurile and childish at times (not that that is always a bad thing) I was suprised, especially as John Lloyd has made a name as an intelligent and humourous writer, and Andrew Marshall has done likewise, although at the time he was writing childrens TV programmes (which may have spilled over).

It is worth a listen. I recently rewatched The Young Ones for the first time in 10 years and found it had waned and then grown funnier, so maybe you have to be in a certain frame of mind, but right now it is a disappointing curio and nothing more.
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VINE VOICEon 16 October 2009
Sorry to poop the party folks, but this was lame in 1980 and age has not improved it. From the prologue to the end, the humour is tired, the jokes, as such, are stale, the characters are uninteresting and you can see the ending coming at least one episode away. There is none of the sparkle or inventiveness of Pratchett or Adams (just slightly shifting genres there). This was worked in the wake of the BBC Lord of The Rings Radio series and probably wouldn't have reached the airwaves without it. All productions have their devoted fans, and the only good thing I can say about this is that its release will at least make them happy (and give me a chance to have my say about this clinker)
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 27 October 2009
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Andrew Marshall and John Lloyd wrote this parody which was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 4 parts (of 30 minutes each) from 25th November 1980 until 16th December 1980. It has been re-broadcast recently on Radio 7 without the opening narration and it is this version that has been released on CD.

It is a 2-disc set (1 hour of the story on each disc). The front cover opens out into a map of Middle Sea along with a reproduction of the original article from the Radio Times of November 1980.

The story takes place in the land of Middle Sea and was inspired by Lord of the Rings. Being a fan of Tolkien I was looking forward to a well written spoof of his work (especially because of the pedigree of Marshall and Lloyd), regrettably I was very disappointed. I listened to it all, after the first disc I nearly gave up, but I hoped it would get better so I continued on to the end.

I have the BBC Lord of the Rings audio discs (The Hobbit: AND The Lord of the Rings (BBC Radio Collection)) and the straight narrated version (The Lord of the Rings (Complete and Unabridged Gift Set) [AUDIOBOOK]), and I do enjoy a good spoofing of my favourite stories, nevertheless this fails to raise even a smile.

All in all it is a disappointment if you take it as a parody/skit of Lord of the Rings - however, if you take it as a stand alone fantasy (with little or no comedy) then it's not truly horrible, but it's not for me.

The jacket advertises it as "one comedy to rule them all" - unfortunately, it fails to deliver. Even the ending is unsatisfactory and unfulfilling and leaves you wondering what happened next.

I really wanted to like this - I just couldn't.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There's no doubting the pedigree of this radio series, with Geoffrey Perkins producing it not long after the massive success of the "Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy" radio series, and John Lloyd on co-writing duties. Unfortunately while "Hitch Hiker's Guide" stands the test of time (mostly), "Hordes Of The Things" doesn't, and anyone who didn't hear it back in 1980 will find it a quaint time-piece rather than a laugh-out-loud comedy.

There is even a warning on the back of the CD which says "some of the humour on this recording reflects the era in which it was first recorded". I guess this is a gentle warning about some of the anti-dwarf humour but it also manages to suggest that "this would have seemed a lot funnier 30 years ago than it does now".

There are flashes of 'alternative comedy', particularly from Patrick Magee as the Chronicler ('the voice of the Book' if you like), but a lot of it just seems a bit too pantomime-like by today's standards. Simon Callow sounds like he's trying to impersonate Brian Blessed throughout, and gets a few good lines, but you always feel that any minute now it's going to break out into "he's behind you!" "oh no he isn't!"

I think the writers may have gotten a little carried away with the plot and forgotten to put enough jokes in it... the plot itself is a standard fantasy run-around, although it does do a very interesting twist in episode four.

Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, as there are some quality gags in it, some of them quite Douglas Adams-esque (such as the wizards holding a conference and getting caught up in office bureaucracy).

The CD packaging is lovely, and includes a big fold-out map of the 'world', which actually spoils a couple of the gags for you if you look at the map before listening to the CD.

Funny in parts but not a classic.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There's no mistaking that this project probably came off the back of the successful Hitchhikers radio plays.

Instead of sci-fi, though, this is a parody of Lord of the Rings at heart, but seems to try too hard. The voice acting is good, the script, at times, is quite funny and the whole thing should really be quite entertaining if it wasn't for the nagging feeling that someone is about to come in dressed as a pantomime horse.

In trying too hard to be funny they've created something which at times feels that it's playing for a forced laugh and at other times is just silly. It's not quite Rentaghost (to use a similar comedy style from the same era) but almost stoops to those levels to get a laugh.

I can't really think of the audience this would appeal to either. Terry Pratchett fans would look down on the low level humour, Lord Of The Rings and fantasy fans might take offence at the humour in general and people who are just interested in radio plays in general have much better sources of enjoyment.

That said, it's still good enough to listen through and enjoy to some extent and the packaging comes with a nice map and notes on the series, so it gets 3 stars for presentation and the odd bit of enjoyment it might give.
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VINE VOICEon 24 October 2009
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was an avid listener to the both "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" when they were first on the radio; I still have the audio tapes from both that I recorded back at the start of the 1980s. Yet this programme, also from Radio Four at the start of the 1980s, completely passed me by at the time.

It does not stand comparison with either of those two giants of the airwaves, and removing such expectations is probably the best way to appreciate the four thirty-minute episodes. There are a number of excellent sections, particularly the conference of the Wizards who would rather not dwell on all the "heavy stuff", but overall the number of jokes that fall flat far exceed those that hit home. The story is more a series of set-pieces than a coherent whole, and while the second half is superior to the first, at times it more annoying than amusing.

The production values are excellent, the two CDs are lovingly packaged with a map of the land the parody takes place in, but I honestly cannot recommend it as a whole.
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on 20 January 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I do like a good spoof, and this sounded like it would be very entertaining. It wasn't awful by any means, but it did feel a bit lack-lustre.

First off, I thought the sound was quite poor, admittedly it was originally recorded in 1980, but the volume was quite low. Initially I tried listening to the disc on my stereo, but found it so hard to make out much of the dialogue I had to transfer it to my MP3 so I could use a set of headphones, which is a pain when you just want to sit and listen, although I did find the show much more entertaining tucked up in bed with headphones, so it wasn't all bad.

For a fantasy spoof, it wasn't terribly funny on the whole, there were a lot of fairly tired humour, but that may just be down to the age of the show, but very few parts that were actually worth laughing at.

The idea of the show made me expect a Terry Pratchett style programme, but it never quite managed to get there.

It's probably better suited to existing fans rather than new listeners.
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