Arthur, Ford, Trillian and Zaphod travel in time by way of an exploding computer to Milliways, the Restaurant at the end of the Universe. Here people can enjoy a good meal while watching the end of ...
Arthur Dent is your average middle-class Briton. One day, while trying to prevent his house being destroyed to build a highway, his friend Ford Prefect whisks him away to the pub and explains that the Earth is about to be destroyed and they need to escape. Intergalactic, inter-time adventures ensue.Written by
Animator Kevin Davies, credited from episodes four to six, receives a different, humorous title each time. The job titles are: Mouse Trainer, Milliways Catering and Bath Superintendent. See more »
The first episode, when it was shown to a live audience for the purpose of recording a laugh-track (see above) included an 8:30 comedic video introduction by series narrator Peter Jones. This sequence was never broadcast on TV, but has been included as an extra on the Warner Brothers DVD release. See more »
Unlike the recent Movie, this mini-series is mostly good, and does an excellent job of capturing the quirky spirit of the radio original.
Probably the biggest reason why this adaptation works well is that the marvelous dialogue of the radio version has not been messed up. There are changes (as there have been in every medium the guide has been adapted into), but unlike the film version, the best and most memorable parts haven't been tampered with See the memorable quotes section for examples of this. The biggest difference between this version and the film may be that Douglas Adams was directly involved with the production of the Television version, but sadly was not around to oversee the film version, for which the loss is evident.
The special effects aren't great (think Doctor Who, circa 1980), but the performances are enough fun that it doesn't matter all that much. Many of the cast members are the originals from the radio series, and even those that aren't originals mostly do a good job with their characters. The one exception is Sandra Dickinson, who just isn't convincing as Trillian She's supposed to a very bright astrophysicist, but comes across as a bimbo/airhead. Still, the rest of the casting is excellent, so this one lapse can be forgiven.
The best part of the whole series is the visuals for the actual Guide. These are extraordinarily detailed animations, buttressing Peter Jones' voice-over from the radio original with lots of extra visual jokes and humor. One of the best parts about being able to watch this on DVD is the ability to freeze-frame some of the more interesting bits to be able to better appreciate all of the funny stuff contained within. These visuals were actually accomplished using a painstaking manual animation technique to simulate the computer displays, as 1980-era computers just weren't up to the job of doing things like this. Ironically, the simulated computer animations are a lot funnier than the actual computer animations (with 25 years worth of improved technology) in the film version.
In sum, given the choice between this and the film version, I would take this any time. The DVD version also includes lots of extra material production notes, making-of documentaries, and a tribute to the late Douglas Adams.
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