The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Quandary Phase Audio Cassette – Audiobook, May 23 2005
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|Audio Cassette, Audiobook, May 23 2005||
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While the book itself was a major disappointment, the radio adaption manages to be funny, interesting, thought-provoking and very satisfying. The writers have focused the story, created new scenes, included characters which Adams had apparently forgotten about over the course of the "trilogy," brilliantly converted the novel's rambling prose into dialogue and guide entries, stayed true to Adams' original intentions while simultaneously improving them considerably, and have created a new epilogue for the story which takes us beyond what Adams ever wrote and ties up the entire saga in a way so clever and sweet as to make a grown man cry. Such a brilliant adaption stands in stark contrast with the abysmal, dumbed-down script which was used for the recent film. THIS is the way to adapt a Hitchhiker's book.
Since the book concerns a parallel Earth and features two versions of the character Trillian (each from a different continuity in improbability,) it's of particular fan interest that the two Trillians are played by Susan Sheridan, the original radio actress, and Sandra Dickinson, who created the role for BBC television. As in the Tertiary Phase, Douglas Adams himself appears as Agrajag. I won't spoil the surprise of who else shows up.
As with all the previous radio entries, it's odd, brilliant, confusing and dense enough to warrant an immediate second listening, and has enough depth to offer new discoveries several listenings later. I couldn't be happier with how it all came out. Which leads me to wonder...
Why does this have to be the last one? If the producers don't wish to invent their own H2G2 episodes, I hope they turn their attentions to Dirk Gently, Douglas Adams' other comedic book series. A creative unit as successful as this shouldn't stop now.
Ford Prefect and
...not to mention the galaxy of other characters who have appeared - even if only for a line or two - on the BBC radio series that has built a global and intensely loyal following for the past 28 years.
"There's nothing penultimate about this one: this - ladies and gentlemen - is the proverbial it."
Finally, there is closure. A conclusion that this listener has longed for ever since the original THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY invaded my awareness in 1981.
And what a conclusion! At the risk of spoiling it for other Hitchhiker wannabe's, BBC4 and Dirk Maggs have managed to remain faithful to Douglas Adams' final installment to the inaccurately numbered trilogy of books, spawned from the original radio series and then respawning into new radio shows. Go to their web for some priceless photos and other cool stuff: [...]
And yet, there's more. The book was as dark as the space encompassing the outer eastern rim of the galaxy, and closed on a note that I'd swear was written by Marvin, the paranoid android. A series that the Beeb billed as "light entertainment" can't leave its audience that depressed and morose, now can it?
As I listened to the last episode of the fifth series, I awaited the darkness of the book's conclusion. When I read the book, MOSTLY HARMLESS, on which this radio series was based, I wondered if Adams was so annoyed with the insatiable appetite of readers and listeners that he decided to dispense with his much beloved characters once and for all. Was this the final disposition of the everyman hero, Arthur Dent, his hedonistic traveling companion and Guide field researcher Ford Prefect, and the only other survivor of the Earth's demolition, Trillian? As I wondered and listened, I achingly mourned Adams' passing. I'll miss forever his command of the English language - weaving similes and other literary devices into a tapesty that delights the listener/reader as much on the 10th or even 100th time as much as it does on the first. Sure, those words would will last for a long, long time. But there would be nothing new from that well that watered and nourished so many of us over the years.
On a somewhat related tangent, I responded to a query on the IMDB web page for Farhenheit 451 as to what book you would memorize for posterity's sake if that book/movie's scenario came true. No question: the original HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY or any of its sequels.
Back to this CD collection: The producer, director, script-writers, performers and other talented members of the ensemble succeed admirably in this final reunion, ushering radio story-telling well into the 21st Century. Sure, the voices had aged. Some had passed and are dearly missed: Peter Jones as the Book and Richard Vernon as the definitive Slartybartfast. But to hear the final reunion was absolutely golden.
Years ago, when I began my career as a road warrior, I used to tune into CBS Radio's nighttime mystery series on a 50,000 Watt AM radio station. (Hey, this was pre-CDs, way pre- XM or Sirius). There's something about driving down a rural two-lane road in the dark that made those tales that much more spine-tingley.
In like manner, listening to any of the CDs of the BBC Radio4's productions of Adams' work makes the miles fly by so much more easily. Books on tape/CD pale in comparison, in much the same way that a black hole is outshone by a supernova or even a red giant. The sound effects and incidental music add such a rich and complex dimension to the story-telling that is so sadly lacking with all the audio books on the market these days. OK, Ok, the flatulence noice is a bit puerile, but it works so well in the scene.
Douglas Adams is a true artiste whose talents will be appreciated for years to come.
So long... and thanks!
For another side of Douglas Adams read "Last Chance to See." There is a used copy for a penny right now.
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