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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [DVD] 
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All the episodes from the popular BBC adaptation of the Douglas Adams' novel. Unbeknownst to its inhabitants, Earth is to be demolished to make way for an intergalactic highway. Arthur Dent (Simon Jones), an unassuming Englishman, is whisked off the planet to safety by his alien neighbour Ford Prefect (David Dixon), and launched on a dizzying journey through space and time (with only a towel, and a fish to help them), culminating in the discovery of the meaning of life itself. A 'Making of...' documentary included in this box set increases the original certificate from PG to 15.
The original BBC radio adventures of Arthur Dent (an ape-descendant whose anger at the apparently inexplicable destruction of his home planet Earth, situated in an obscure corner of the outer spiral arm of the galaxy, is expressed in frequent irritation at friendly automatic doors and vending machines) and his travelling companions, Ford Prefect (an itinerant towel-carrying hitch-hiker originally from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse), Zaphod Beeblebrox (the notorious ex-Galactic President and patron of Eccentrica Galumbits, the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon Six) and Marvin the Paranoid Android (who's still suffering from that terrible pain in all the diodes down his left side) proved to be such a success for the BBC that its transition to TV was (almost) inevitable. In 1981 several key members of the radio cast made the move to the small screen. Simon Jones' bewildered Arthur Dent remains the central character, shambling around in his dressing gown (a fact easy to forget on radio); Mark Wing-Davey's Zaphod Beeblebrox is the same as his boastful radio persona, even if the second head utterly fails to convince. Unfortunately, newcomers David Dixon (as Ford Prefect) and the irritating Sandra Dickinson (as Trillian) are no match for their radio predecessors.
The problem here is not so much the low-budget look as the script itself, which is lovingly faithful to the radio series in a way that Douglas Adams' novels aren't. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was a lucid, satirical, occasionally profound, utterly unique comic invention on radio. As such, it has nothing to gain from TV. The script needs no visual elaboration--that's best left to the listener's own imagination. Only the animated renditions of the Guide itself enhance Peter Jones' wonderfully dry narration; otherwise--paradoxically, perhaps--by supplying images the concept is oddly diminished here.
On the DVD: A suitably eclectic not to say eccentric collection of extra features makes this a wholly satisfying two-disc set, neatly packaged in a fold-out slipcase. On the second disc there's an hour-long "making of" documentary from 1992 featuring contributions from the cast and crew, including Douglas Adams; and then there's even more in a 20-minute section entitled "Don't Panic!". A fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at filming as the clock runs out on studio time and a look at the recording of the original radio series complete the first part. Then navigate to the "Outer Planets" to find outtakes, a deleted scene, Zaphod's animatronic second head on Tomorrow's World and Peter Jones's witty and shambolic introduction to the first episode, plus more besides. The series itself is presented in standard 4:3 ratio and Dolby stereo. --Mark WalkerSee all Product description
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This is the famed BBC original video version. I listened to the BBC radio version too.
The film versions I feel do not show as "everyday" as this BBC version.
If you only have the later film version please watch this too.
This is the 1980's version of the seminal story by Douglas Adams. Having really enjoyed the original radio broadcasts (in stereo!)some years before, I was bit concerned that the small screen would not do the story justice. It has to be said that the programmes were decidedly British; low budget, but with a focus on the content rather than the presentation. I felt that the end result really did the stories justice and the story is full of silly jokes, crazy ideas and slightly adolescent humour.
By today's standards, the filming will look a little dated; but it's still very worth while watching if you haven't seen it before, or have only just discovered the stories.
Okay, so the special effects are more 'Micky Mouse' than Spielberg, but that's part of the fun in this parabolic tale that will make you laugh and make you think about the parallels it draws. Highlighted by an excellent cast and the superb narration by Peter Jones this BBC version has absolutely everything that the more recent 'Big Screen' version sadly lacked.
I can actually see no reason to ever remake this, even with the hokey special effects the cast ARE the characters and I couldn't see any other actors coming close. Stephen Fry was a good replacement for the guide voice, but Peter Jones was THE guide voice.
The 4:3 picture quality is excellent, with only a few drop outs noticeable on a 42 inch screen, which it was likely never envisaged to ever be seen on in 1981. There is a stereo sound option, but I had trouble with this as I could not hear Deep Thought properly and overall it didn't seem to work, but that may be my DVD player or television.
The first disc is the series, the second an extras with various shorts from 1981 or 1992. OK and of interest, but nothing to write home about and I wouldn't really have missed them. Some of the episodes are 'director's cut', which I am not totally sure worked as some of the scenes did seem overly long, although they may not have been the extended ones.
For Hitchhiker fans - a must, for others I am not so sure. I thought of lending it to someone oblivious to it, but I am not sure they would get the humour nor be able to see past the aged effects. Maybe a something best left for those in the know and in that respect 5 stars minus 1 for 1980s special effects.
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