This electronic book, published by Megadodo publications of Ursa Minor, has supplanted the Encyclopedia Galactica in many places as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom. Although it has many omissions, contains much that is apocryphal, or at least widely inaccurate, it scores over the older more pedestrian work in two important ways.
  • 1. It is slightly cheaper
  • 2. It has the words "Don't Panic" inscribed in large friendly letters on the cover.
The entry for Earth is originally "Harmless" but was extended by Ford (after editorial intervention) to "Mostly Harmless" which gives an idea of the scale of the Galaxy. This was also shown by the Total Perspective Vortex and its effect upon the a normal mind.

Originally a 6-part Radio series on BBC Radio 4 in March and April 1978 later extended to 12 with a Christmas special and a further 5-part second season. It was created by Douglas Adams. This has gone on to become a cult encompassing stage, book, record, television, and computer game.

The story centres around Arthur Dent (an Earthman) and Ford Prefect (not an Earthman) and their adventures after the Earth is demolished by Vogons to make way for a hyperspace express route. They meet Ford's semi-cousin Zaphod Beeblebrox (two-headed, three-armed ex-galactic president), Trillian (Tricia MacMillan, an unemployed Earth astrophysicist) and Marvin (the paranoid android). They all travel in the "Heart of Gold", a spaceship that Zaphod stole, with the shipboard computer Eddie. This ship is powered by the Infinite Improbability drive which leads to some interesting events.

Their adventures include:

This series is probably more more densly populated with quotable material than any other comparable series. In my youth my friends and I could quote entire episodes! It also gave us the Babel Fish, Vogon Poetry, and the importance of knowing where your towel is.

One of Neil Gaiman's lesser claims to fame is that he wrote a book called "Don't Panic" about the Hitch-hiker's Guide. Apparently a very good way to become totally fed up with something.

The radio episodes were named Fit the First, Fit the Second etc. in homage to "The Hunting of the Snark" by Lewis Carroll.

Legend has it that Douglas Adams came up with the idea while hitch-hiking round Europe, lying in a field in Spain staring up at the stars. However he says he has told the story so often that he cannot remember whether or not it is true any more.

A section from the original Fit the Third where Marvin hums like Pink Floyd and then "Also Sprach Zarathustra" was cut from later repeats and the commercial versions.

The theme music is "Journey of the Sorcerer" originally by The Eagles.


Thanks to TenMinJoe for grammar corrections
Thanks to baumbart for pointing out that Marvin the android is paranoid because people kept calling him an andriod (an insult not quite as extreme as Belgium). I am to spelling what Wayne Gretzky is to needlepoint.

Filk on Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
To the tune of Rolling Down to Old Maui

It's a weary life full of stress and strife
Hitchhikers have to bear.
When we cadge a quick lift from a passing ship
We're off to God knows where.
Didn't want to go, and I told Ford so
But I can't go home you see
For the earth is no more, so I'm trav'ling far
Hitching around the galaxy.

Hitching round the galaxy, my friends
Hitching round the galaxy
To make things worse there is Vogon verse
Hitching round the galaxy

I'm sitting here with a fish in my ear
List'ning to a robot moan
Up on the bridge there's a spaced out freak
And a girl I met back home
And in this hellish nightmare world
I just can't get a cup of tea
I'm stuck, I'm told, on the Heart of Gold
Hitching round the galaxy

Hitching round the galaxy, my friends
Hitching round the galaxy
And Zaphod's prose gets right up my nose
Hitching round the galaxy

And next we veer off to Magrathea
With missiles on our tail.
Then something strange, those missiles change
To a potplant and a whale.
I don't know what that damn drive did
I'm lost without a clue
Now two lab mice want to cut me up
What's a poor Earthman to do?

Hitching round the galaxy, my friends
Hitching round the galaxy
I wish I could , find just one thing good
Hitching round the galaxy

Oh for a jar, in the public bar
Of my local pub back home
The earth I left, seems much sweeter yet
As the further off I roam
Even now I yearn for a summer breeze
Blowing off the Irish sea
I want to cry as my days go by
Hitching round the galaxy

Hitching round the galaxy, my friends
Hitching round the galaxy
I'm just a bum , sticking out my thumb
Hitching round the galaxy

To give you a feel for the writing style of this so-called "trilogy", here's a parody I wrote just after Christmas in my freshman year at the University of Florida. It owes something to Douglas Adams' gag about money not being particularly unhappy. It also owes you an apology for its none-too-subtle references to the season and the final exams I had just survived.

Please believe me when I say that (1) Douglas Adams doesn't always write this way, and that (2) the real thing is considerably better than my attempt at parody.

The scene opens, as nearly as I can tell after some seven or eight years, on an editor for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the best travel guide anywhere...


Kankaffril Eight pondered slowly whether this particular entry was, in the way a peach cobbler wasn't, just a piece of paper with scribblings on it. He enjoyed pondering. And what was more, he was good at it. He had been called "Person Most Likely to Ponder" by some, which didn't mean so much when you considered what he had been called by others, especially others engaged in cutting him off in traffic at the time while pretending to be supremely offended by his taste in hanging air fresheners, but all the same he felt as if he had been made to ponder.

In fact, pondering had been made for him, if you asked the older travellers in the Galaxy, but nobody had yet asked them. Their reply was likely to be incomprehensible, since the older travellers had come from Troldanix Gamma, where incomprehensibility had been heavily subsidized as an important form of artistic expression. He pondered nevertheless.

He was pondering particularly in the direction of whether it would be fair to call anything "just a piece of paper". It certainly didn't matter to the author of the entry, since he had long since passed away while trying to get the post office to accept a package which bore a self-contradictory address. He had hired a team of lawyers to force the post office to accept it, and a new associate in the firm suggested pointing out that its mind-boggling self-contradictory nature qualified it as valid in anything having to do with the post office. He was fired. By the time the partners realized that it was, in fact, a good idea, their client was dead. A further hundred years or so passed while the subsequent generations of attorneys worked on whether their futility and irony might qualify them to receive the package themselves, but they were disappointed to find that not only did the package contain "just a piece of paper", it was not one of the many pieces of paper on their planet which were worth anything.

His idea to call the thing "just a piece of paper", however, would most certainly have appalled the piece of paper itself, for that is what it was. Pieces of paper, or Xantack Laas, as they called themselves, enjoyed only one pastime, and it is unclear whether they can rightfully be said to enjoy it, since it brings them no joy. Rather, they get a sense of contemplative resentment towards the Universe out of their pastime, which is to be appalled when other creatures pick up a Xantack Laas and scribble on it without so much as thinking what the paper's opinion of the situation is. "It's just a piece of paper," they protest. Or, rather, they would protest, since nobody has yet questioned these insensitive pink bipeds on the propriety of their actions.

It is less clear how the scribblings felt. Their intelligence has never been properly measured, since the first psychologist who attempted to do so used a multiple-choice intelligence test. The scribblings were asked to indicate their answers by marking yet another piece of paper which had been painted with a silly pattern of squares beforehand. To the average human, this would not seem like a peculiarly insensitive request, since the average human has not in fact *been* the marks in question for eons.

The scribblings, however, never allowed a psychologist near them again.

The "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is a sort of hand-held encyclopedia which includes an entry for every planet of the galaxy, or as least every one that has been reviewed. The Guide puts out new editions periodically. Ford Prefect first ended up on Earth as a reviewer for the guide. (He was stranded here for a number of years.) In one alternate universe, his entire entry on our world was reduce by editorial intervention to the words "Mostly Harmless".

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a series of books about the Hitchhiker's Guide, by the insanely funny Douglas Adams. This five book long trilogy (as it is known) was first produced as a radio show, and part of it was later made into a movie. Here are the titles of the books in the series:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Life, the Universe, and Everything
So Long and Thanks for all the Fish
Mostly Harmless

Again, I cannot emphasize enough how DAMN funny these books are. I want to reread them just thinking about them...

The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Metanode

A Trilogy in Four and Sometimes Five Parts


Cast, Characters


Places


Races, Flora/Fauna


The Answer and The Question


Words, words, words...


Technology


General Mish-Mash


Songs


Quotes / Excerpts


"It is pitch black."


The Man (he's just zis guy, you know?)


Movie?



I'm sure I've missed plenty of stuff, so please /msg me or add your own writeup here.

The long-awaited DVD release of the original 1981 BBC series, chronicling the first two books of the "trilogy," was released on May 2, 2002 as a 2-disc set.

    Disc 2 contains the following:
  • The Making of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Kevin Davies' hour-long documentary from 1993. Packed with unbroadcasted and archive material, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Simon Jones (Arthur Dent), David Dixon (Ford Prefect), Mark Wing Davey (Zaphod Beeblebrox), Sandra Dickinson (Tricia "Trillian" McMillan), Douglas Adams (author) and Alan J. W. Bell (director).
  • Don't Panic!: Kevin Davies revists his footage from "The Making of..." documentary, to bring together a further 20 minutes of interviews and other material that didn't make it into the final program.
  • Douglas Adams Omnibus: A profile of the late Douglas Adams - creator of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Features contributions from many of his famous callaborators and friends, such as Stephen Fry, Terry Jones, Clive Anderson and Griff Rhys Jones.
  • Introduction by Peter Jones: The first episode was screened to a selected audience at the National Film Theatre, and features a specially recorded introduction by voice-of-the-book Peter Jones - his only on-screen appearance in his "Hitchhiker's" capacity. (The "laughter-track" idea was dropped after this one episode experiment.)
  • Communicate!: As part of a BBC Education program, cameras were given access to the radio studios of "Hitchhiker's" during the production of the second series, just in time to record things going not-terribly-well with the Nutrimatic Drink Dispenser scene... share and enjoy!
  • Original Trailer: The BBC2 trailer for the first episode of "Hitchhiker's."
  • Deleted Scene: A short sequence cut from Episode Two prior to transmission.
  • Behind-the-scenes: The final minutes of studio recording for Episode Two on Saturday, November 8, 1980 were a fraught affair, with time seriously running out. A 15-minute overrun was formally agreed to but it still meant lights-out at 10:15PM, whether the scene was completed or not. Watch the timecode as it counts down towards the cut-off point of 22:15:00 and you'll begin to feel some of the tension experienced by all concerned...
  • Tomorrow's World: At the time, Zaphod Beeblebrox's second head was at the cutting edge of robot animatronics. The February 12, 1981 edition of the BBC's long-running science program took a closer look...
  • Pebble Mill at One: An appearance by animator Rob Lord and producer/director Alan J. W. Bell on the January 23, 1981 edition of the program, talking about "Hitchhiker's" with Donny McLoud. This footage is sourced from the only surviving off-air recording.
  • Out-takes
  • Photo Gallery

The aspect ratio is the same as the original broadcast (4:3), as it was never shown on a movie screen and thus, no aspect ratio modifications have ever been made on the series.

Written by Douglas Adams
Produced and Directed by Alan J. W. Bell
Starring Simon Jones, David Dixon, Sandra Dickinson and Mark Wing Davey
And Featuring the voice of Peter Jones

All of the above refers to the Region 1 DVD release, as it's all I've got access to. The individual disc infos were gathered from the inlay card and the back of the case.

The BBC TV series adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first shown on BBC 2 from the 5th January – 9th February 1981 in the form of 6 thirty-minute episodes.

Credits
Simon Jones as Arthur Dent
David Dixon as Ford Prefect
Sandra Dickinson as Trillian
Mark Wing Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox
Peter Jones as The Guide

Written and produced by Douglas Adams and Alan J.W Bell
Incidental music by Roger Limb, title music by Tim Souster (a remake of The Eagles's song “Journey of the Sorceror”)
Guide animations by Rod Lord

The series itself is quite faithful to the books and radio series, the plot mainly deviates just to suit the medium. Casting is a sore point with many fans of the book – most would agree that Zaphod and Arthur were cast perfectly (Douglas Adams actually wrote the character of Arthur around Simon Jones’s persona for the script of the original radio series), though many people complain that Trillian is badly cast as a blonde American ditz, and that Ford is simply too spaced out.

Despite the fact that the production values for the series were relatively high, Marvin looks like a left-over Doctor Who costume, and most probably is. The ship models are terrible, as are the chroma-keyed shots – but hey, this was the early 80s. Zaphod’s extra head was inexcusable however. It didn’t just look bad; it looked like a dead fetus grafted on the actor’s shoulder, occasionally moving slowly and speaking in a manner which is intended to comedic but turns out to be rather creepy. It’s a challenge to watch it without hoping it will fall off and get kicked under a table somewhere.

In general the series was well-stylized and very original. The music is synthy, dreamy and gives off a great new-age futuristic atmosphere. Famed above all else are Rod Lord’s guide animations. These were entirely hand drawn, with pieces of black card covering up letters to be revealed one-by-one in a computer terminal style. The result leads to a very futuristic looking computer interface, extremely well executed and impressive even by today’s standards.

In total the series covers roughly the same material as the first two books (that is from Arthur and Ford first escaping Earth up until the cavemen spelling words on a Scrabble board).

An episode guide follows. Please ignore if you don’t want any spoilers!

Episode 1

(First screened Monday 5th January 1981 on BBC 2)

Additional roles: Joe Melia (Foreman)
Martin Benson (Vogon Captain)
Micheal Cule (Vogon Guard)

Guide sequences: Ford’s Bio/Galactic map showing Betelgeuse, explaining Ford Prefect’s choice of Earth name
Pan Galactic Gargleblaster/Zaphod Beeblebrox teaser
Vogon Constructor Fleet/Getting a lift from a Vogon Babel fish (this was Rod Lord’s pilot animation, and perhaps the most famed of all. He was given quite a few awards for this short piece)

Synopsis: Arthur Dent wakes up to find a man and his nasty yellow bulldozer trying to knock down his house. Ford arrives and they strike a deal with the demolition men so that they can nip off to the pub where Ford explains to Arthur about his alien heritage and the fact that the world is about to end. Arthur’s disbelief is interrupted by the sound of his house being smashed to pieces. While Arthur directs a torrent of abuse towards the demolition men, a Vogon craft appears and announces the destruction of Earth. They follow through.
Arthur and Ford are ‘safely’ beamed aboard the Vogon ship, courtesy of the Dentrassi cooks working on board. After putting the translating Babel fish in his ear, Arthur hears a Vogon announcement warning that he and Ford are not at all welcome on the craft. After a short trip into hyperspace the pair are captured by a Vogon guard who has come to throw them into space – or if they’re unlucky, the Vogon Captain will want to read them some of his poetry first…

Trivia: Ford strikes the deal between the demolition foreman and Arthur rather than Arthur himself, unlike the original radio script.
The scenes at Arthur’s house were filmed at Edmonds Farm in Surrey.
Douglas Adams appears in the background of the bar scene. The tower from where some of the London aerial views were shot was later renamed to “Tower 42”.
The Vogon mask was crafted by a costume designer who often worked on Doctor Who.

Quote: “Barman: Do you really think the world’s about to end?
Ford: Yes, in just over 3 minutes and 5 seconds.
Barman: Well, isn’t there anything we can do?
Ford: No. Nothing.
Barman: I thought we were supposed to lie down, put a paper bag over our head or something…?
Ford: Yes, if you like.
Barman: Will that help?
Ford: No. Excuse me, I’ve got to go.
Barman: Ah, well. Last orders please.”

Episode 2

(First screened Monday 12th January 1981 on BBC 2)

Additional roles: Martin Benson (Vogon Captain)
Micheal Cule (Vogon Guard)
Rayner Bourton (Newscaster)
Gil Morris (Gag Halfrunt)
David Learner (Marvin)
Stephen Moore (Voice of Marvin)
David Tate (Voice of Eddie)

Guide sequences: Ford Prefect Bio (revised)
Worst poetry in the Universe
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book introduction/foreword Space: Survival Of
Sirius Cybernetics Corp
Various star charts appearing on the Heart of Gold screens

Synopsis: …unfortunately, the Vogon Captain does want to read them some of his poetry. Ford and Arthur suffer through it, but despite their attempts to offer up a flattering critique, the Vogon Captain to throw them into space.
Arthur and Ford find their selves in a dream world generated by the Infinite Improbability Drive, where Trillian announces that they are returning to normality. They learn about the power of the drive in the rec. room of the Heart of Gold as they awake, and are subsequently greeted by Marvin the Paranoid Android. Ford learns that an old acquaintance Zaphod Beeblebrox is aboard the ship, and also that he has stolen the ship from the government. As they meet, Arthur realizes that he has also met Zaphod before; and Trillian too. Is this sort of thing going to happen every time they use the Infinite Improbability Drive? Probably.

Trivia: Doug Burd, who created the opening credits and piloted the aircraft in this episode was killed in a flying accident a few months later in April.
Douglas Adams appears in a full guest role as the unhappy businessman who strips naked, throws his money on to the beach, and walks back into the sea representing primordial soup.
Fenchurch is shown in a shot of a café just before Earth’s destruction, although the script doesn’t actually reference her by name.
The trippy improbability drive sequence with Arthur and Ford on Southend Beach was mainly composed of matte paintings and digital effects.
Marvin is played by David Learner in the costume, and Stephen Moore as his voice.

Quote: “Arthur: Ford, you’re turning into a penguin! Stop it!

Episode 3

(First screened Monday 19th January 1981 on BBC 2)

Additional roles: Richard Vernon(Slartibartfast)
John Daire (Rich Merchant)
David Learner (Marvin)
Stephen Moore (Voice of Marvin)
David Tate (Voice of Eddie)

Guide sequences: Intergalactic Empire
Custom planet building
Stress reduction information (petunias, whales, bruise on mystery person’s arm)
Death of the bowl of petunias
Man as the 3rd most intelligent life form on Earth (So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish)

Synopsis: The Heart of Gold turns out to be orbiting Magrathea, a legendary planet and home of the incredibly rich custom planet builders. Slartibartfast hails the crew members and warns them about the nuclear warheads being aimed at their ship. Whilst the crew flail around wildly as the missiles threaten to destroy them, Arthur has the bright idea of activating the Infinite Improbability Drive. This has the fortunate effect of turning the missiles into a bowl of petunias and a sperm whale (unfortunate for the whale and bowl of petunias, however). One crew member however, has bruised his arm. In order to convey a sense of intrigue and mystery, the unlucky recipient of the injury will not be named until the end of this synopsis*. Safe again, the ship is landed on the surface of Magrathea. They find an opening and enter the interior of the planet, sans Arthur and Marvin who are left to ‘guard’ on the surface. Inside of the planet the rest of the team are knocked unconscious.
Slartibartfast meets Arthur on the surface and invites him inside of Magrathea to be reunited with the rest of the crew. They learn that the Magratheans made the Earth as part of a biological supercomputer used to compute the question belonging to the ultimate answer, “42”. An experiment conducted by… mice?

*Arthur has bruised his arm.

Trivia: Eddie was originally going to be a jukebox, but instead a full prop was commissioned. It looks uncannily like a Playstation 2.
Douglas Adams performed Eddie’s voice for the benefit of the actors, and the real voice was dubbed on later.
The revolving platform on the Heart of Gold’s bridge was borrowed from the game show “Blankety Blank”.
The whale is voiced by Stephen Moore, the voice of Marvin.
The BBC received letters of complaint about the whale’s death.
The planet surface of Magrathea was filmed at a clay pit in Cornwall.
Douglas Adams wanted Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” to be playing as they landed on Magrathea, but the copyright clearance was too expensive.
Richard Vernon (Slartibartfast) fell down a hole in the clay pit.

Quote: “Slartibartfast: It may disturb you… scares the willies out of me.”

Episode 4

(First screened Monday 26th January 1981 on BBC 2)

Additional roles: Richard Vernon (Slartibartfast)
David Learner (Marvin)
Stephen Moore (Voice of Marvin)
Antony Carrick (Lunkwill)
Timothy Davies (Fook)
Devid Leland (Majikthise)
Charles McKeown (Vroomfondel)
Matt Zimmerman (Shooty)
Marc Smith (Bang Bang)
Valentine Dyall (Deep Thought)

Guide sequences: Arthur/Ford/Zaphod/Trillian history
Deep Thought
Scene cuts (Seven and a half million years later…)
Space Invaders-style alien war

Synopsis: Slartibartfast shows Arthur the history of Earth, telling of the computer Deep Thought which was built to compute the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything and which later commissioned the building of the supercomputer Earth. The entire crew then meet for a large feast, hosted by the mice. They proceed to sack Slartibartfast and explain that they need to buy Arthur’s brain to retrieve the ultimate question from it (no matter, they offer to replace the brain. A simple one will do). The arrival of galactic police enable the crew to make their escape, only to be cornered in a large bay of the planet. The trigger-happy cops demand to take custody of Zaphod for stealing the Heart of Gold, but lose track when a nearby computer blows up.

Trivia: As before with Eddie, Douglas Adams originally voiced Deep Thought before it was dubbed.
An animation was originally intended to be projected on to Deep Thought’s wall of smoke. This proved unsuccessful, but traces of the attempt can still be seen in the finished footage.
The warring aliens are both played by “Doctor Who” alien actors.
The aliens each score 1900 points each in the war computer-game sequence.
The mice share voice actors with Eddie and Marvin.

Quote: “Arthur: Now? To meet mice? You want me to meet mice now?”

Episode 5

(First screened Monday 2nd February 1981 on BBC 2)

Additional roles: Jack May (Garkbit Head Waiter)
Colin Jeavons (Max Quordlespleen)
Barry Frank Warren (Hotblack Desiato)
Dave Prowse (Bodyguard)
Colin Bennet (Zarquon)
Marvin (David Learner)
Voice of Marvin (Stephen Moore)

Guide sequences: Milliways (note how the letter tones fit the tune wonderfully)
Disaster Area

Synopsis: The team awake to find their selves in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Milliways. Ford meets a brain-dead (literally) friend Hotblack Desiato, and gets his arse royally kicked by the rock star’s bodyguard. The gang sit down for a spot of dinner and a short conversation with the main course. A phone call from Marvin leads them to meet him in the parking lot, and then to steal Hotblack Desiato’s ship. As they launch it they realize that it’s stuck on auto-pilot and heading straight for the sun...

Trivia: The ancient manuscripts about Deep Thought and the ultimate answer were drawn by Douglas Adams. The binary value for 42 appears amongst the graffiti.
The snooty waiter was played by the actor who voiced Igor in “Count Duckula”.
Hotblack Desiato’s bodyguard is the man who played Darth Vader, David Prowse (also seen in “A Clockwork Orange”).
Some of the audio of the audience applauding was recorded from the set of the talk show “Parkinson”.

Quote: “Guide: If you’re done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways?

Episode 6

(First screened Monday 9th February 1981 on BBC 2)

Additional roles: Rayner Bourton (Newscaster)
Aubrey Morris (Captain)
Matthew Scurfield (Number One)
David Neville (Number Two)
Geoffrey Beevers (Number Three)
Beth Porter (Marketing Girl)
David Rowlands (Hairdresser)
Jon Glover (Management Consultant)
David Learner (Marvin)
Stephen Moore (Voice of Marvin)

Guide sequences: Human’s stating the obvious to stop their brains from working
Earth scanning to book (fantastic!)

Synopsis: Zaphod suggests that they try to work out the question from Arthur’s brain. Marvin takes this is his cue to admit that he can read it from his brainwaves, but is interrupted as the ship turns sharply and careers towards the sun. They devise an escape route via the ship’s teleport which involves Marvin staying behind to operate it and meet certain doom.
Arthur and Ford appear on a strange ship, but Trillian and Zaphod are missing. They aren’t seen again in the series. Further investigation of the ship leads to a cryogenics bay containing a large collection of frozen crew, each labeled with their associated professions – telephone sanitizer, hairdresser…
A guard takes Arthur and Ford prisoner and brings them to the bathing captain. The ship turns out to be an ark full of middle-men and women, destined to crash into a small blue/green planet. After thorough exploration of the planet, Arthur and Ford find Slartibartfast’s signature on an iceberg, and come to the realization that this is Earth and they’ve cocked up the experiment.

Trivia: Simon Jones has kept Arthur’s dressing gown.

Quote: “Captain: Excuse me for not getting up. I’m just having a quick bath.”

Sources: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy DVD. Trivia is selected from the alternate subtitles on the DVD.

The original Radio Four series.

Some members of the main cast

The Book................................Peter Jones
Arthur Dent.............................Simon Jones
Ford Prefect and Deep Thought...........Geoffrey McGivern
Prosser and Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz......Bill Wallis
Eddie and the Vogon Guard...............David Tate
Marvin..................................Stephen Moore
Zaphod Beeblebrox.......................Mark Wing-Davey
Trillian................................Susan Sheridan
Slartibartfast..........................Richard Vernon

The Episodes

Here follows a list of the episodes from the original two series. There is, in existence, a third series and a forth and fith are planned. These are not covered here because they are not part of this original run and, more importantly, I haven't got them :-)

Interesting note: The episodes are called 'fit the nth' as a reference to the Lewis Carol poem The Hunting of the Snark.

FIT THE FIRST

In which the Earth is unexpectedly destroyed and the great Hitch-Hike begins.

First broadcast 8th March 1978. This first programme was originally the pilot episode. It was recorded at the BBC Radio Light Entertainment Department on the 1st of March 1977.

FIT THE SECOND

After being saved from certain death during the demolition of the Earth, Arthur Dent now faces a hopeless choice between meeting certain death in the vacuum of space or finding something pleasant to say about Vogon poetry.

First broadcast 15th March 1978. Marvin was heard for the first time, and was originally only intended for this one episode (Adams was of the opinion that he was a one-joke robot). Luckly, due to the fact that the scripts for each episode were being written as the series went along, his instant popularity convinced Adams to add him to the permenent cast. The phone number of the London flat in this episode (which are also the odds against being saved from certain death when thrown into empty space is a real phone number (or was at the time). It was actually the phone of the flat Adams was writing the script in at the time.

FIT THE THIRD

After being improbably rescued from certain death in the vacuum of space, Arthur Dent and his companions now face a missile attack and certain death

First broadcast 15th March 1978. An interesting note from this episode is how Adams came up with the name 'Slartibartfast'. He started with the name 'PHARTIPHUKBORLZ' (which was clearly unbroadcastable) and played around with the syllables until he came up with something which sounded rude, but wasn't.

FIT THE FORTH

It has been revealed to Arthur that the Earth has been built by the Magratheans and run by mice. Meanwhile his companions have been suddenly confronted by something nasty (probably certain death).

First broadcast 29th March 1978. This is, of course, the episode in which the answer to the ultimate question of life, the Universe and Everything is discovered to be forty-two.

FIT THE FITH

Sent to find the Ultimate Question to Life, the Universe and Everything, Arthur Dent and his companions have been cornered by two humane cops who, nethertheless, have left them in a certain death situation.

First broadcast 5th April 1978. Adams came back to writing HHGTTG after taking a break in which he wrote four episodes of Doctor Who. For this episode, and the next, Adams was assisted by John Lloyd (who went on to produce Spitting Image and The Black Adder.

FIT THE SIXTH

Will the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything (to which the answer is forty-two be discovered?

Will our heroes be able to control their newly-stolen spaceship and the enourmous fleet of black battle cruisers that is following them?

Will all end happily or in the certain death that has threatened them so persistently?

First broadcast 12th April 1978. The last episode in the first series. David Jason of Only Fools and Horses (among many others) fame was cast to play The Captain of the B-Ark simply because he was regularly playing Dr David Owen (then, the foreign secretary) who was, for no good reason, always in a bath. Luckily, Jason later escaped from his man-in-a-bath typecasting.

FIT THE SEVENTH

The show that began with The End of the World continues with Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect stranded on a prehistoric Earth, and Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin thoroughly devoured by a carbon copy of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

First broadcast 24th December 1978. It was written as a one-off christmas special.

FIT THE EIGHTH

Zaphod Beeblebrox and his mysterious friend Roosta are being taken to the evil Frogstar, whilst Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent are stranded on pre-historic Earth. Some of them are getting hungry.

FORD: I don't believe it. It's impossible.
ARTHUR: But it's happening.

First Broadcast 21st January 1980. The first episode of the second series. This second series was broadcast one a night for a week between the 21st and 25th of January.

FIT THE NINTH

In which our heroes have the chance to chew the fat with some old enemies and Arthur Dent has an unpleasant cup of tea.

EDDIE: Man and Machines share in the stimulating exchange of... aaargh.

First Broadcast 22nd January 1980.

FIT THE TENTH

In which our heroes have some close encounters with others and themselves.

ARTHUR: It's not a question of whose habitat it is, it's a question of how hard you hit it.

First broadcast 23rd January 1980.

FIT THE ELEVENTH

In which our heroes do a lot of running and digging.

ARTHUR: Don't ask me how it works or I'll start to whimper.

First broadcast 24th January 1980. The shoe shop parts were written by an enraged Adams who had spent three days trying to buy shoes in an Oxford Street full of shoe shops; all of which carried the same range and were out of stock on the same lines.

FIT THE TWELTH

In which all is resolved, everyone lives happily ever after and pigs fly.

MAN IN SHACK: I have no idea. It merely pleases me to behave in a certain way to what appears to be a cat.

First broadcast 25th January. This episode very nearly didn't make it to air. The mixing was only completed twenty minutes before broadcast. This explains some of the lower-quality editing of the final scenes. These were, in fact, re-done for later repeats. It should be noted that Adams intentionally had an open ending ready for a third series (which was never commissioned) after having problems trying to get out of a very final ending of the first.

Hello. Let me introduce myself. I am a hard core Hitchhiker fan. I have been since the age of twelve. In college, I was lucky enough to interview Douglas Adams and my level of fandom reduced me to incoherency. Deep in my heart, I care about the Hitchhiker universe, about its singular vision, more than Middle-Earth, probably more than Sunnydale, maybe even possibly more than that galaxy far, far away, which I was pretending I was a part of before I could even read. So I was ready, if need be, to hate this film more than I hate my president, to label it betrayal and use it as an excuse to burn perfectly innocent inanimate effigies.

But this film is fucking wonderful. I'm sorry. It's so great. It's brilliant and epic and hilarious.

And everyone else in the theater clearly agreed with me. There was continuous roaring, and there was tumultuous applause. They can't all have read the book. I can only dream of the degree of joy the film must bring to those who don't already know four out of every five jokes.

This film has been in development at Disney for over twenty years. It was almost made by Terry Jones in the 80's, then almost made by Ivan Reitman, who decided to do Ghostbusters instead. Adams did several new drafts of the script for Jay Roach in the late 90's, but his untimely death from a heart attack pushed the project onto the back burner once more. Then it was offered to Spike Jonze, who didn't feel at all comfortable with an $80 million effects extravaganza, but instead recommended Garth Jennings.

This is Jennings' first feature. I can't think of a debut so impressive since Donnie Darko. His only qualifications were a handful of notable music videos for Pulp, Blur, and Beck. Plus, his actually being British.

(The nationalities of the film's characters seem a bit mixed-up at first: I had the most trouble getting used to Trillian as an American. Ford's vicinity of Betelgeuse is evidently Brooklyn, though thankfully not Joe Pesci's neighborhood, and Zaphod is Californian or Texan - though his slang in the book does make him come off that way. Across the pond, as it were, the Vogons, the Magratheans, the Guide itself, and Marvin are all British, so the galaxy at large retains its Python-in-Space feel.)

Jennings and Karey Kirkpatrick, the screenwriter credited below Adams, swear that all they did was cross-stitch Adams' different drafts into the funniest possible shooting script. That is, they're happy to admit that none of the new ideas are their own. I tend to trust that, only because the new bits fit so well into the world of the story. However, several of the actors below are known to be gifted improvisors, so we certainly can't say that every line belongs to Adams.

Cast rundown:

Arthur Dent == Martin Freeman. If you have never seen the mockumentary series The Office (please note that I am not referring to the recent NBC remake), it is amazing and this man is its anchor. He is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT as Arthur, and even if this film adaptation had taken several missteps it would still be pretty good due to him holding it all together. He's the befuddled straight man, yet it's only because no one acknowledges his caustic wit.

Ford Prefect == Mos Def. He can bust a funky rhyme, but can he pull off being The Brother from Another Planet? I had misgivings before seeing him in the role, but he's excellent - a deadpan reluctant mentor for Arthur who lapses into Hunter S. Thompson-style debauchery at the slightest excuse. Note his hilarious response to a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Zaphod Beeblebrox == Sam Rockwell. In my mind, this man can do no wrong. He was outstanding in Galaxy Quest, Charlie's Angels and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. He's chameleonic, and his comic timing is impeccable. His President of the Galaxy is smug and breezy, a lighthearted riff on Dubya - "I'm a busy guy, I don't have time to read!" His second head takes the place of his neck, and spastically emerges to growl the desires of his id, much like Dr. Strangelove's arm.

Trillian == Zooey Deschanel. She fits well into this role because you have no problem believing that she is a super nerd - that she would leave the planet given the slightest opportunity. She has an oddly deep voice and lamplike blue eyes that do not let up. I think we will be seeing much more of her after this.

Marvin == Warwick Davis (body) + Alan Rickman (voice). Rickman's sarcasm brings more to the role of Marvin than I could have dreamed. And even though I am an Ewok hata, I have to admit Davis is a gifted mime. He can set off a laugh just by tilting that giant plastic head. The combination makes Marvin one of the film's most memorable characters.

Notable cameos:

Slartibartfast == Bill Nighy

The Guide == Stephen Fry

Eddie the Computer == Thomas Lennon (of The State and Reno 911!)

Hologram of Magrathean == Simon Jones (the original BBC Arthur Dent)

Gag Halfrunt == Jason Schwartzman

Humma Kavula == John Malkovich

There are so many beautifully realized places and creatures I want to rant about, but after Adams' words have been so well interpreted, it seems silly to convert them back into words. I will just mention that it is fantastic - it takes me back to my childhood - to see all aliens done as massive animatronic puppets by Jim Henson's company. Not a CGI critter in the lot. And the colorful 2d animations that illustrate the Guide's digressions are lovely. They remind me of some recent commercial, but I can't recall for what - anyone?

DO PANIC!

The section below assumes that you are familiar with the basic story points. If you are not, you can become so simply by reading the many pieces above. This is for hardcore fans who are dying to know exactly what has changed. It is NOTHING BUT SPOILERS. If you decide to read it, you will most likely be depriving your future moviegoing self of a large number of laughs. But what kind of internet reviewer would I be, if I didn't ruin everything I could?

ACT ONE, IN WHICH OUR HEROES DITCH THIS MUDBALL

A sampling of Omitted Gags (which I missed):

"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun." The very first page, which mentions digital watches, small green pieces of paper, and a girl in a cafe in Rickmansworth (who, in Book Four, will become known to us as Fenchurch)...gone.

Not from the book, but: The trailer (which I assure you I did not scrutinize every frame of, repeatedly) opened with Arthur turning off his alarm clock. Under it was a copy of Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut - Vonnegut being an obvious influence on Adams - and you could also see Arthur's laminated BBC badge. Anyway, this two second shot was cut.

"It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'". When Prosser tells Arthur the plans for the destruction of his home have been on display, Arthur merely repeats, "On display?"

"A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have." Although towels are most definitely in the film - Ford keeps his around his neck, ready to brandish it at any sign of danger - the Guide never explains why.

"Mostly harmless." The exchange revealing that Ford wrote the Guide entry on Earth, which Arthur greatly disapproves of.

"Infinity minus one." The ultimate improbability being not that Arthur and Ford were picked up, but their relationships to those who picked them up. Actually, this sort of thing just seems natural in a movie, and you have to admit it's a bit of a nerdy joke.

A sampling of New Gags (which I loved):

The section on dolphins has been moved right up front. It's the very first thing in the movie. As the opening credits roll, the dolphins sing a song - a classic Hollywood style big band cheery uptempo musical number - about how you are all going to die and they are getting the hell out.

Flashback of Arthur and Trillian's costume party meet-cute in Islington. He's dressed as Stanley. She's Darwin, and he's the only one who gets it. She likes him enough to invite him to Madagascar (which seems to be a reference to Adams' trip to the island, which inspired Last Chance to See), but he's reluctant to leave his job. That's when Zaphod shows up.

Flashback of the moment when Arthur and Ford met. Ford, who of course named himself after what he thought was Earth's dominant life form, tries to shake hands with a car and nearly gets run over.

The unfilmable pyschedelic madness that the Infinite Improbability Drive inflicts upon Arthur and Ford as soon as the Heart of Gold picks them up has been replaced by a single bit in which they are suddenly sofas. "Ford," Arthur says, rather ashamedly, "I think I'm a sofa." The Drive later transforms the whole crew of the Heart of Gold into adorable kindergarten style yarn puppets.

When Trillian sees Arthur on the ship's cameras, she rushes to put on some pants. Really, if you were just kickin' around a stolen spaceship, and the only other person aboard was your squeeze, why would you wear pants? Pants suck. A little while later, when she's catching up with Arthur, she brandishes a mini-lightsaber at him, only to reveal it's a bread knife that instantly creates toast. Dear Disney Store want one now plz kthx

ACT TWO, IN WHICH THE HEART OF GOLD BOUNCES RANDOMLY AROUND THE GALAXY NOT UNLIKE A GIANT PING-PONG BALL:

Zaphod, in this version, actually wants to discover the Ultimate Question (to receive even more fame and money than he's already entitled to as President of the Galaxy), and so it is Zaphod, not Slartibartfast, who shows Arthur the Deep Thought footage. (As for the hyperintelligent pandimensional beings aka white mice, Lunkwill/Fook, Loonquawl/Phouchg and Benjy/Franky have all been collapsed into just two characters spanning twelve and a half million years.) But Zaphod still needs coordinates to get to Magrathea, and to get them he must go to Viltvodle VI and confront Humma Kavula, his ex-opponent in the campaign.

Kavula agrees to give them the coordinates, but only if they deliver to him a certain hyperintelligent pandimensional gun, and he takes Zaphod's extra head as collateral (mounting it on a bobblehead doll for safekeeping). As the crew is leaving, Trillian is abducted by the Vogons (who are integrated throughout as The Bad Guys, but pitifully ineffective ones, as they cannot shoot straight, are afraid of towels, and must wait for the proper forms to be processed before they can give chase) and Arthur convinces the others to travel to Vogsphere to rescue her.

On the Vogsphere, where the massive constructor fleet simply slots into the ground to become a maze of foreboding skyscrapers, Arthur, Ford and Zaphod must cross a plain where they are slapped in the face by a machine every time they have an idea. Arthur steals Marvin's arm to pretend it's a Kill-O-Zap blaster (index and middle fingers pointed forward, ring and pinky curled under - what, that looks like a gun to you, doesn't it?) but no one is fooled. So this bit is a lot like the middle of the first Star Wars film, only instead of stealing some uniforms and blasting everyone, our heroes merely use Zaphod's star status to cut in line and then do some paperwork. (Arthur: "I'm British. I know how to queue.")

So Trillian is saved from devourance by the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, but she's not very happy to see Zaphod (who can't even remember her name), because she's learned from the Vogons that he signed the authorization for the destruction of Earth, but she's not happy to see Arthur either (who is mad about her) because he didn't tell her about the destruction of Earth. He tries to explain that was because Zaphod threatened him, but she isn't hearing a word of it.

ACT THREE, IN WHICH ALL IS DISTURBINGLY RESOLVED SATISFACTORILY:

After the wonderfully intact sperm-whale-and-bowl-of-petunias bit, the crew lands on Magrathea, which is an icy wasteland. Arthur can't summon up the courage to hurl himself through a dimensional portal and so remains behind with Marvin while the others travel to whatever the name of the place is where Deep Thought sits. Deep Thought is busy watching cartoons and apathetically lets them have the weapon Humma was after: The point-of-view gun, which, when you blast someone with it, instantly shows them things from your perspective. Trillian shoots Zaphod several times.

Meanwhile, Slartibartfast finds Arthur and takes him to the factory floor, and then all the way down to the surface of the Earth Mark II. Past oceans being filled with hoses, past mushrooms being forcibly bloomed, all the way to... his non-demolished house. He goes inside to find the others waiting for him, feasting on the banquet provided by Benjy and Franky. When the mice are just about to saw open his cranium to extract the Ultimate Question from his quivering brain, he exclaims in frustration that the only question he ever cared about was "Is she the one?"

Arthur manages to squish the mice, but when he gets outside, he finds that they're surrounded by an army of Vogons led by the Vice-President. Marvin's enormous head takes a stray laser bolt, and he turns the POV gun on the Vogons, all of whom collapse in despair. Slartibartfast tells Arthur that the Earth Mark II is nearly ready for installation, but Arthur declines the offer to be part of it, and heads off to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe with Trillian on his arm.

It would be easy to say that this is the sellout ending, the predictable Hollywood Disney ending - but I can't deny that it felt good, that I always wanted Arthur and Trillian to have a fair shot at making it work. Is that somehow more artificial than the pesky malfunctioning teleporter whisking Arthur away to another regularly scheduled certain death cliffhanger? If there is a sequel (please Zarquon, make them do a sequel) and they do get arbitrarily separated, that can only be more affecting. I also respect Trillian more this way, since she doesn't remain completely passive about her crappy relationship situation until Book Three.

As much as I love the book, it doesn't end, it simply stops; the characters don't grow or change at all, they simply escape to get pissed and take the piss another day. The film could no more end that way than Fellowship could end without Boromir's death. The last thing we see is the Heart of Gold transforming into Adams' face, and there is no doubt in my mind this film preserves his ingenuity and spirit as warmly and well as any could.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
"Don't Panic"
2005, Disney (Touchstone Pictures)
Director: Garth Jennings
Writers: Douglas Adams, Karey Kirkpatrick
imdb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371724

To begin with, let me say that I am no Douglas Adams fanboy. Sure, I read most of his books in my youth, and enjoyed them, but by now I can only barely remember the plots, let alone quote passages from memory like some people I know. I'm telling you this so that you won't think it's just fanatic devotion, brooking no deviation from the original text, at play when I say that this movie fails.

In fact, I would argue that the movie fails in large part because it tries too hard to remain true to the books. Think about it: movies are relatively short experiences meant to be consumed in one sitting, without breaks. As a result, they mostly must focus on a single conflict, illustrating how the protagonist(s) overcome a problem, and how the experience in turn changes them. Over all, they are an audiovisual medium, which means that feeling, intention, motivation, and other internal character aspects must be expressed through the outward actions and dialogue.

In contrast, The Hitchhiker's Guide is about a bunch of people, essentially stock comic types who undergo little personality development, who wander around fairly randomly for quite some time, often moving from one scene to another by pure chance, experiencing a lot of things which neither especially help nor hinder their quest. They don't accomplish much, and eventually discover that the thing they are searching for - the authoritative Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything - doesn't exist. They are mostly there to serve as foils for the book's excellent sense of humor, usually based less around laugh-out-loud situations per se as its consistent use of irony, dry wit, and quirky phrasing.

Surely you can see the problems here, and apparently so did the filmmakers, for the script, which Karey Kirkpatrick modified from Adams' adaptation, changes some elements around to make the story less of a picaresque. These changes, however, are hamhanded and worse, ineffective. Yes, the Heart of Gold is now being pursued by the Vogons, but the "worst marksmen in the galaxy" rarely seem all that much of a threat, and mostly remain tangential to the rest of the movie, showing up where and when narratively convenient. They can end a scene, inspiring the crew to move on, but they can't really start scenes, having little effect on exactly what and where they move on to. Adams even created a new character - sneeze-based cult leader and electoral rival to Zaphod Humma Kavula - for the movie, but Kavula's sum contribution is to remove Zaphod's second head and issue him a fetch quest to somewhere he was going anyway, after which point the character never returns.

In the absence of much of a main plot arc, it seems to have been decided that it is Arthur and Trillian's job to make up the difference by falling in love. This subplot is astounding in its inconsequence: by the time they meet on the Heart of Gold, the two characters have already known and flirted with each other before, and get along fine, while Zaphod, the nominal competitor for Trillian's hand, rarely seems to acknowledge her. When the time comes for the inevitable declaration of love, we simply haven't been given enough setup for it to pay off either as a climactic moment or as an organic outgrowth of the characters' (nonexistent) development. It doesn't even advance the plot, but simply seems to have been highlighted out of a sense of obligation.

Well, like I said, the story was never the book's strong point, so how about the comedy? Again, the transition from the book to the movie did not come off well. A lot of it is that a lot of the book's humor was tied to the textual form, and simply can't be expressed through visual images. The film cheats a bit by narrating a few choice passages from the Guide, distracting the audience with animated illustrations that look something like the bastard offspring of an airplane safety card and an iPod commercial. These segments are fun and clever, the animation coming off well even when compared to Rod Lord's already solid sequences for the BBC miniseries, but you can't build a movie out of them.

Sometimes the visual nature of film isn't just uncomplimentary, but actively works against the gags. A Vogon poetry recital doesn't look that bad up on screen, which eliminates much of the tension of the scene, and undercuts the humor of Arthur's forced praise. Likewise, a whale contemplating existence as it falls through the atmosphere is funny precisely because it is so absurd. Presenting it as a realistic, computer-generated sequence complete with voiceover makes the idea more tangible and thus less absurd. The half-minute or so dedicated to this sequence is both too long to sustain humor on premise alone and too short to get anything out of the whale's philosophizing, while the constant reminder of the approaching ground reduces the impact of the tonal shift that is the joke's inevitable conclusion.

The filmmakers might have compensated for losing this text-bound humor by enthusiastically dedicating themselves to the visual. There are two brief sequences that show that the filmmakers did know how to do this right - one, early on, portrays the Infinite Improbability Drive's side effects through the use of, um, yarnmation, while another, where the crew must run through an area inhabited by animated shovels that whack them in the face whenever they have an idea, represents exactly the kind of physical comedy where film has an edge on text. However, the rest of the movie seems marked by a curious aversion to going over the top. Perhaps the filmmakers avoided doing so in fear of accusations that they had dumbed down Adams' humor into silly "gimmicks", but whatever the case, the movie suffers for it.

All in all, I fear that those responsible for the film placed too much emphasis on reproducing the book. Most of the major set pieces and plot points remain, but are diluted by the necessity to keep moving to get them all in before the movie ends. The humor comes too rarely, as the film spends more time setting up exposition that doesn't really pay off, and when it does come it too frequently underwhelms, in large part due to the lack of regard to the nature of the medium. Characters like Ford and Questular hang around even though they have nothing to do, while others like Marvin, limited by the form to plodding and whining, actively suck energy from the film. Even where the film creates new material, as in the Guide's animations or the "Point of View gun", an invention which forces its wielder's outlook upon its targets, thus giving characters an excuse to deliver (each other's) monologues on what they are feeling, it seems to be doing so as a way to insert the book's literary sensibility into the film, rather than adapting the book to the new medium.

In consequence of all this purism, the movie becomes buried under its own weight and eventually collapses. Is it even possible to do a Hitchhiker's movie "right"? I'm not sure, but I know that to even be in the same ballpark would require some pretty deep and painful cuts, which would alienate a lot of the fans of the book. Keep in mind that when I call the movie "failed" I'm speaking from an artistic perspective - all this might well be an acceptable tradeoff from a business standpoint, if the accuracy drives dedicated fans of the book to buy the DVD, which is where all the money is these days.

What I think would have been a better idea, one that given all the forms this story has taken I'm surprised nobody's tried, is adaptation as a cartoon series. The disjointed, episodic narrative and minimal character development are a perfect match for television conventions, and at a conversion rate of one book per thirteen-episode animation season, the show would have enough time to explore each situation fully, wringing out all the humor before moving on. The animated format would allow for the depiction of even the most absurd or grandiose images without an excessive effects budget, and enable the visual exaggeration the material calls for. We can hope.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Movie has been slowly gestating in various stages of development on an insignificant little blue-green planet for at least twenty years, possibly even longer. In any case, for the longest time, it seemed that no amount of green paper, no number of nifty digital watches, nor even all the towels in the known Universe were going to get Douglas Adams's sci-fi novels to the silver screen.

After the 1979 release of the first book and the subsequent critical praise and public celebration, like most good things, people immediately began coming up with ways to turn it into something else. This is, of course, much like those who felt nothing would be better for the various sound effects, vocal performances and musical themes of the radio show than to remove them entirely by turning it into a novel.

As for a movie, it seems not entirely unlikely that interest in the series was not in some way due to Star Wars, which was generally considered to be a phenomenon by those who feel the need to classify that kind of thing. Of course, while some cannot see the connection between Star Wars and Hitchhiker's Guide, given the entirely different storylines, subject matter, tone, character arcs, style and purpose, they are both set in space, which is the kind of connection movie producers look for when looking for reasons to make movies, explaining why, for example, the makers of the Super Mario Bros. movie felt gamers would appreciate the inclusion of monkeys, flamethrowers, police car/bulldozer hybrids, explosions, and fat women instead of anything resembling the actual video game.

In 1982, producers Ivan Reitman, Joe Medjuck and Michael C. Gross optioned the novel to be made into a movie. Douglas Adams wrote three drafts of the movie for them, but around that time Dan Aykroyd turned in his screenplay for Ghostbusters. This film, of course, went on to be awfully successful for Columbia Pictures, grossing over $200 million dollars, although the profit was evened out by another bad choice by a movie producer, who deduced incorrectly that the status of Lawrence of Arabia as one of filmmaking's greatest accomplishments was a good reason to make Ishtar.

During the 1980's, Monty Python member Terry Jones also expressed interest in directing the film, but it seems that didn't happen. Of course, later, Adams and Jones would work together on the CD-ROM game and novel Starship Titanic, the book of course proving that not all great novels with 'Douglas Adams' in the title need to be actually written by Douglas Adams.

Throughout the mid-90's, not much was going on, most likely because people were busy with a spreading problem known as "MTV", creating a fuss over more advanced digital watches, and slowly pretending that the clothing and hairstyles of the 1980's were all some sort of terrible mistake. But near the end, HG2G was again suggested as prime fodder for a major motion picture. It is unsurprising that during this time Star Wars was also receiving a lot of attention due to a theatrical rerelease, this time capitalizing on the popularity of video games by including what appeared to be actual video game graphics.

Jay Roach, director of the Austin Powers films and Meet the Parents was set as a director, with the movie this time being made at Disney, through their subsidiary branch of Touchstone Pictures. During this time, communication problems occurred between Disney and Adams, prompting Adams to send Disney a letter including 34 separate ways to reach him. Unfortunately, despite the resulting improved partnership and an approved budget, the film as it was then was not to be. Douglas Adams tragically passed away on Saturday, May 12th, 2001.

Following a few months of mourning by fans across the planet, general sadness, loving tributes, and lots of respect for a great man, the movie was left up in the air. It is darkly ironic that only after the man who was working hardest on getting the film finally made had passed away, that following months of indecision and the murmurings that it was definitely not going to happen, it was all of a sudden swiftly put together, going off without any problems whatsoever.

The final film contains about as much of Douglas Adams's original novel as you could expect something created by movie producers to contain, plus there is a rousing and funny song called "So Long & Thanks for All the Fish," and wonderful visuals inside Magrathea's planet factory. The movie is dedicated to Douglas Adams. The film opened at number one during its debut weekend, defeating the sequel of a terrible film merged from the success of action films, rap music and pornography. Whether or not there will be a sequel to the Hitchhiker's Guide movie is yet to be seen, although it is certainly set up, so that Disney is prepared in case it turns out that they will be able to make even more money.

In a somewhat improbable (or, on the other hand, entirely unsurprising) coincidence, the last film in the Star Wars series is scheduled to come out a mere 20 days after Hitchhiker's Guide was finally released.

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Additional Notes

Usually, part of the fun of recounting the history of things such as movies that have been long in the making is pointing out all the famous people involved with it at one point or another. It's not entirely clear why this is, because it is akin to conversing about people you don't know and likely will never meet, using the context that the one time you almost met them, it didn't happen.

In any case, Douglas Adams's well-known choice for the role of Arthur Dent was actor Hugh Laurie. After Adams's death, producers also considered Jack Davenport but rejected him for being too good-looking. Hugh Grant was probably rejected for the same reason. It seems unlikely, however, that this was for either Mr. Davenport or Mr. Grant as depressing of a rejection than such an event usually is. Lastly, the thought that at least one devoted fanboy didn't suggest Simon Jones for the role is simply rubbish.

The only other role that had consistent buzz was Zaphod Beeblebrox, which sparked the interest of Bill Murray, Will Ferrell and Jim Carrey. However, despite Zaphod being two-headed, none of the above actors were ever suggested to play Zaphod at the same time. Murray and Aykroyd were also suggested for Ford Prefect. Sir Nigel Hawthorne was to play Slartibartfast while Jay Roach was to direct, but unfortunately, he, like Adams, has passed on.

Another draft of the film, written by Josh Friedman was leaked to the internet, but ultimately not used, which may or may not be due to the fans' somewhat negative reaction to it. No less than three studios had the rights to the film but let them expire before it was made.

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