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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)
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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

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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Rob Slaven TOP 50 REVIEWER
I usually review books so forgive the lack of detail, but I have the following bullet points...

* This version follows the book very closely. It's more or less what the reader would wish for.
* The extras.... I've perused them but I can't bring myself to care very much. For the person who has read the novels, just assume the second disc doesn't exist.
* Ages ago I had this series on Betamax. Yes, you read that correctly. Betamax, the format that preceded VHS. The digital remastering of this isn't perfect but it's much better than Beta.

In summary, the first disc of this is what I wanted. I'll ignore the second disc with its extras.
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4.0 out of 5 stars reminiscing Feb. 16 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy Aug. 2 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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 Simon Jones as Arthur Dent certainly made you believe in humankind. I am glad i bought this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT April 7 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Excellent dealings. Item shipped promptly; as described. Recommend dealing with. Excellent dealings. Item shipped promptly; as described. Recommend dealing with.
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3.0 out of 5 stars hmmmm... March 5 2013
By Mark D.
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.

its worth it just to have a look at what they did...then again you tube could probably satisfy just as easily...
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5.0 out of 5 stars A lot more entertaining than the movie Jan. 6 2013
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 the same name. In my opinion, this original TV series is a lot more entertaining than the movie. The special effect is crude by today's CGI standard but the show benefits greatly from the very funny dialogs and interactions among the characters, in addition to the generous amount of voice narration by the renowned comedy actor Peter Jones as The Book, richly illustrated with colorful and funny graphics. The purchase consists of two discs, one for the TV series and the other for special features. It is worth the price.
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Most recent customer reviews
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant
When the film was about to come out I thought I buy the TV series 1st so I could compare and see what it was all about, so I did and I wasn't disappointed. Read more
Published on Sept. 30 2010 by Ben Nicholson
5.0 out of 5 stars the books are more fun
I read the books and, if you can belive it listened to the LP, before I had seen the T.V. version. all were fun . there was ,I belive, a very old dos based computer game. Read more
Published on June 5 2010 by A. Larson
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than I remember.
I taped this series on VHS in the 1980s. Slowly but surely the tape deteriorated with mold and fungi growing out of it. Good old English climatic conditions. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2010 by Bruce Hale-Pearson
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