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The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (1981)

Alan J.W. Bell , Martin Benson    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 81.18
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The production values aren't the greatest here, but this adaptation does capture some of the ebullient, hilarious anarchy of Douglas Adams's book. Arthur Dent discovers that his friend, Ford Prefect, isn't human at all but an alien on assignment, writing for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Many of Adams's delicious asides are dropped off here, like the woman who figures out the meaning of life right at the moment that she gets blown up with the rest of the Earth, but it retains what it can. Sure, the book was better, and the realization of Zaphod Beeblebox and Trillian are, well, just different, but it's a great introduction to the series for the uninitiated. --Keith Simanton

Special Features

A suitably eclectic, if not to say eccentric, collection of extra features makes this a wholly satisfying two-DVD set. 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 25-minute section entitled "Don't Panic!" A fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at filming as the clock runs 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 the BBC series Tomorrow's World, Peter Jones's witty and rambling introduction to the first episode, and more. The series itself is presented in standard 4:3 ratio and remixed Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo or the original mono. --Mark Walker

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I laughed myself silly Dec 2 2008
I love science fiction. In fact, I love it so much that I will even watch cheesy, low-budget, so-bad-it's-funny productions like the 1979 version of H.G. Wells' The Shape Of Things To Come. So when, flipping through the channels one fateful day, I came across a British production with shoddy props and laughable effects, I stayed to watch rather than flipping on. As it turns out, it was a PBS marathon of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and in fairly short order, I was laughing myself silly. Instead of something laughably bad, I had discovered something hysterically funny. You see, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a bit of that inspired, lunatic British comedy which many people love, and the rest just don't "get." It's not about the effects, nor about the production values. It's not even about the plot or the acting. What makes me laugh till it hurts is the utter deadpan attitude with which Adams skewers any target careless enough to cross his path:

"The Encyclopaedia Galactica defines a robot as a mechanical apparatus designed to do the work of a man. The marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as 'Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun To Be With'. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as 'a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be first against the wall when the revolution comes.'" (p. 73)

There are so many digs, at so many of the insanities of modern life, that it's simply not possible to do justice to the work. It overflows with wit, and even if you only catch one joke in three, you'll be holding your sides.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discover the secret to the number 42 Feb. 10 2002
Format:VHS Tape
The video is based on the TV series, which is based on the books and the radio play. The radio play is hilariously satirical and very creative. The TV series was on PBS years ago and pops up every so often. Great story. The characters in the TV series don't quite measure up to the radio play but are good anyway. The story does measure up and the cheesy special effects only add to the fun. It's a Monty Python-esque view of space and travel in general with great commentary on our society and its peculiarities. The Hitchhiker's Guide is all you need to travel the universe and is essential when your planet is destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass. The Guide is many things: a primer on Vogon poetry, a guide to using the Babel fish, and a calming influence with it's friendly "don't panic" on the cover. The best character in the show may be Marvin the paranoid robot but Arthur Dent, Ford, Trillian and Zaphod are just right for fans of the books and play. The restaurant at the end of the universe is the place to be seen. All this and mice make the world go 'round. Zany and original. A definite find! It really can't be fully explained within the limits of a short review. Now if someone will only put out the radio show on CD!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Adams Junkies May 13 2004
By Bruce
If you're already hooked on Douglas Adams's view of the universe, this set is a must-have. If you're looking for an intro to Adams, go with the radio series. As TV series go, this is no masterpiece. The effects are cheesy, the audio is nothing to write home about. At the same time, though, it's a lot of fun. A previous review states that Siman Jones was the only key cast member to be carried over from the radio series. This is not true. The voices of Zaphod, Marvin the Paranoid Android, Eddie the shipboard computer, and Slartibartfast all made it to the screen. Like a previous reviewer, I was disappointed that the radio series was not included, as promised by the Amazon ads. I had been hoping that the scene cut from episode 3 of the radio series might be restored here, but the radio series is most definitely absent. But, all in all, for Adamsians like me who have every conceivable format of everything Adams wrote, this is a must have and other than the radio show's missing, I was not disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Answer Is...42! Feb. 22 2004
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" started life as a radio series at the BBC, and quickly became a huge smash. Following that success, creator Douglas Adams found himself writing novel adaptations and the screenplay for this wonderful six part television show, which premiered in 1981. It was an instant success and has achieved a huge following worldwide. First seen in the mid 1980s on PBS in the US, its popularity grew greater still, and if any show ever called out for a DVD release this is it.
For those of you who aren't familiar with "Hitchhiker" it is the story of a human, Arthur Dent, and his extraterrestrial friend Ford Prefect who flee the Earth after it's destruction (to make way for a hyperspace bypass) and have mind-bending misadventures with compatriots Zaphod Beeblebrox and another human, the lovely Trillian. The series is filled with extremely quirky twists and turns throughout, and truly defies description. Suffice it to say that it is light years ahead of its time and never fails to provoke a laugh.
The good humor of the series is cemented by actor Simon Jones, playing Arthur, who tours the galaxy in his bathrobe (and always knows where his towel is.) Simon was the only key cast member carried over from the radio show, and he truly is made for the part. Likewise David Dixon is perfect as the wild-eyed Ford.
Remember that this was a low budget production, so don't expect special effects to rival "Star Wars." Most of the effects are adequate, although I think the producers would have done well to dispense with the robotic second head of Zaphod found in the radio show and book, as the contraption that Mark Wing Davey has to wear is extremely lame, and really doesn't further the plot. His third arm, though, is surprisingly well done.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars reminiscing
I saw this tv series when it played on CBC a long time ago...
It is a good example of the cheezy stuff produced by the BBC.
Published 7 months ago by Gordon Page
5.0 out of 5 stars Represents the book exceptionally well. Better than the later movie...
I usually review books so forgive the lack of detail, but I have the following bullet points...

* This version follows the book very closely. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Rob Slaven
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy
I first saw this in 1981 and it has only improved with age. Douglas Adams could really make one believe that you had ventured into space with his wonderful turn of phrase and... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Catherine A. Rawley
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT
Excellent dealings. Item shipped promptly; as described. Recommend dealing with. Excellent dealings. Item shipped promptly; as described. Recommend dealing with.
Published 17 months ago by Mike Sargent
3.0 out of 5 stars hmmmm...
show starts off real great- just like the new movie- just like the book but total lack of budget and just gross costumes really take this show down a notch. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mark D.
5.0 out of 5 stars A lot more entertaining than the movie
This "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2002)" DVD contains the original six-episode TV series first broadcast on BBC in 1981, not to be confused with the 2005 movie remake of... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Big Al (Alan Rivière)
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, revisited...
I was in university when this burst onto TVO and we were gripped by its originality... I would say that it has aged a bit, and the ending still leaves me as unsatisfied as I was... Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2012 by Bruggadung
5.0 out of 5 stars Geeky fun
A great item for the fans.
Technologies used in this are so much fun to see with our perceptions!
Amuzing to compare with the movie as well.
Published on June 22 2011 by Vanakyra
5.0 out of 5 stars Every bit as good as I remembered
This is the original BBC tv series and is every bit as good as I remember it. The effects may be a bit weak by today's standards but remember it was made over 25 years ago, before... Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2010 by Pete37
4.0 out of 5 stars The visual version of a pan-galactic phenomenon
First, to answer the questions i would ask about this item before buying it: The first disc (190 minutes) contains all 6 episodes from the original TV series; image and audio-wise,... Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2010 by Gary Fuhrman
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