Don’t panic

I was watching something on TV early on Saturday night when an advert for Grease — The Musical came on. And I pondered to myself that Grease was a fine idea for a movie, but really, was there the need to ram it into the ground by endless adaptions into other formats, such as musicals? Aren’t there enough good ideas out there that the same ones don’t have to be repeated ad nauseaum? I have no intention of seeing Grease — The Musical. I’d rather spend my time and money exploring new and different ideas than the same ones over and over.

Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy posterAnd, having come to this conclusion, then I went to see the Hitch Hiker’s Movie. Okay, so much for that idea.

Comparing the movie to earlier renditions is almost inevitable. While I haven’t heard the original radio series, I’ve certainly read the books and watched the TV series numerous times. I also had the LP records for quite some time, which I suspect combined the feel of the radio original with the pace of the TV show. I also played the computer game. My exposure to Hitch Hiker’s, and its influence over the years has been immense. (Towel Day, 2001coming up soon on 25th May 2005)

I tried not to be automatically critical of the new movie where it varied from the other versions. Face it, if it introduced nothing new, it would have been deadly dull. But I couldn’t help but spot where bits of dialogue skipped sentences, where they glossed-over some point, or varied it. And I found myself wondering if where they glossed-over something, would a virgin audience still understand it?

It’s important to remember that this was not done entirely without Douglas Adams’ influence, though his input dipped markedly when he died. There were a number of bows to the TV version — the original theme music, a cameo by the original Marvin, and Simon Jones (Arthur in the radio, record and TV versions) as the Magrathean answering machine. There’s even a Dish reference thrown in for good measure, and the League of Gentlemen contributing Vogon voices and Mr Prosser.

Overall, I must say, I enjoyed it. The special effects did everything the TV series ones tried and failed to do. And I think the overall feel of the previous versions was maintained in the movie.Thumbs up!

PS. Don’t walk out when the credits start.

PPS. Our chaffeur found a parking spot right slap bang outside the door of the Sun Theatre, which made us all feel like VIPs as we walked out after the movie. The only thing missing was the red carpet.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

13 replies on “Don’t panic”

It’s important to remember that this was not done entirely without Douglas Adams’ influence, though his input dipped markedly when he died

I suppose it would have.

This is yet another movie I said I’d go and see, and haven’t.

Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the movie once I got past the “Its not the book” viewpoint.

I agree completely with your assesment of Hitchhiker’s Guide. My student niece was involved in the making of it and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to honestly say I liked it but I did (with some minor reservations). All the versions are enjoyable (although I found the game hard)but differ to some degree and for me the best is the original radio series which I was crazy about in my student (and hitchhiker) days. I have recently discovered these on the web and am slowly working through them again. Were you aware that the “Quandary series” of new episodes (with most of the original cast) are currently being broadcast by the Beeb. First episode was last Tuesday. Better than the last series so far IMHO but alas no Peter Jones these days.

I’ve only seen The Dish once, and didn’t catch the reference. What was it?

I am still in awe of the BBC’s fake computer graphics in the TV series, but the movie’s real CGI was a good approximation.

Being the closet knitter that I am, I was blown away by the knitted scenes. I can see a woollen Marvin in my future. I was also thrilled to see the shots of the Gower Peninsula they used in the Earth scenes (all the beautiful coastlines with amazing greenery were in South Wales, about 10 miles from where I now live).

One important thing to remember is that Adams had been working on this script for at least ten years (prior to Hammer and Tongs). He is quoted as saying
‘After 5 and half books, 3 Radio shows, a television series and a video game, this movie is none of those. No previous version has matched any other version, the movie maintains that tradition.’

DNA not only had a keen understanding of the medium, but also the technology and limits for each medium for which he has adapted the HHGttG.

On a related note, having seen the movie four times opening weekend (We all do what we can), I can say that while some plot points were abbreviated and I can see how someone who was not a fanatic may get lost on occasion, it was still phenominally done. The acting was appropriate for the characters, the visual effects were not only stunning but sentimental (Yay, DNA head!), and I am looking forward to the DVD for the extras they had to remove so your average (mostly American) audience with their short attention span and their revulsion to art that isn’t music could handle it. (Enough of a sentence for you?)

While I shudder to think of sequels without DNA influence, I think the writers who finished this script may well be able to do it and I would like to see them try, as the books have at least 4 more movies in them worth of material. Even if they dont succeed, I think DNA would approve of them trying.

Enough gushing.


I think Grease was a musical before it was a movie tho, the movie was a movie adaptation of the musical.

Went with a friend about 5? years ago to see Grease. We had a big laugh at Craig McLaughlin as Danny Zucco, he was the campest Danny ever, in the track meet scene he was checking out the other guys!!!

I finally got to see it yesterday (Hitchhiker’s Guide, not Grease;-) ). I thought it was good, and that they pretty much got it right. I can only compare it to the novels not having seen or heard the TV or radio versions, and have to say that it didn’t ruin my perception of the characters or the story at all. Different but still the same, and all good.

I just can’t understand the so called Douglas Adams/Hitch Hiker’s Guide fans on IMDB bagging it.

PS. I walked out about a minute into the credits. Did I miss something?

PPS. Have you seen my towel?

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