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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The…

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Primary Phase (BBC Radio…

by Douglas Adams

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Please note: the point of this review is not to discuss the plot of THGttG, but rather to convert those who are diehard fans of the books and are not familiar with the radio show into devotees of the BBC radio series which first aired in 1978, since it, after all, was the basis for the books, and not the other way around. But if you're not familiar with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, read on to find out what all the fuss is about.

Skip this part if you are already familiar with THGttG since most of this content is lifted from Wikipedia:

In the [Primary Phase], Earthman Arthur Dent is about to have his house demolished to make way for a new road, but before work can start his friend Ford Prefect informs him that the world is going to be demolished by a Vogon constructor fleet "to make way for a hyperspace bypass" and that he, Ford, is in fact an alien writer for a book called "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Hitching a ride aboard the Vogon ship which has just destroyed Earth, the pair eventually find themselves aboard a stolen spaceship called The Heart of Gold. Onboard is Ford's two-headed semi-cousin and President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox, a woman Dent once met at a party called Trisha MacMillan (who has styled herself "Trillian") and a depressed robot called Marvin. Beeblebrox is searching for the mythical planet of Magrathea and the answer to the "Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything". Dent and the others later find themselves at The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and are ultimately held captive aboard a Golgafrincham ship which is just about to crash-land on Prehistoric Earth.

Why the original radio version is zillions of times better than the book:

It's like comparing the experience between a mono radio show featuring a crappy banjo player with front and centre seats at a live symphony orchestra playing a concert hall. Well, sort of. THGttG was the first radio comedy show to be recorded in stereophonic sound and it was acted out by a full cast of professional actors, but what really sets this show apart is the sound effects which were completely innovative at the time. "One of Adams's stated goals was to be experimental in the use of sound. Being a fan of Pink Floyd and The Beatles (and especially the experimental concept albums both bands produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s), Adams wanted the programme to have the feel of a "rock album...to convey the idea that you actually were on a spaceship or an alien planet — that sense of a huge aural landscape".

Of course today, there is a quaint quality to those sound effects, but that is part of what adds to the overall charm of the experience. But best of all, though some kind of alchemical process, what might seem funny in the book, here actually SOUND absolutely hilarious. I first discovered this show in the late 80s when a local radio station aired the series, and must say that more than 20 years later, a reading of the book (which not surprisingly seemed awfully flat) it felt just as fresh, off the wall and yes, innovative as it did the first time around. Not convinced? Well you might want to give Vogon poetry a try, you just might like it. ( )
1 vote Smiler69 | Jul 7, 2011 |
I try to imagine what it was like to hear this series when it first aired back in the late 70's. The characters are nearly perfect for the world they inhabit and the dialogue and narration snaps right along. Douglas Adams' hilarious commentary on the irrationality of human behavior cannot be missed!

This is the first of the series in the Hitchhiker story. Follow Arthur Dent and friends on a journey through an outer space quite unlike anything else in the genre of science fiction. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Apr 3, 2011 |
The original radio series on three CDs. When it first appeared, HHGG was a phenomomen. SF fans could not believe that someone had produced a series that was so knowing about sf's tropes and so ready to undermine them. The rumour circulated that 'Douglas Adams' was a pseudonym for a really well-known writer - what other explanation could there be?

In fact, Adams came out of Cambridge, the Footlights and the Pythons. These people were all fairly media savvy, though not as much as in later generations of British comedians; and indeed, so much formula science fiction was already a parody of itself that this was not the achievement it first seemed.

Douglas Adams' reputation as an author was built on the novelisations of HHGG, though it must be said that his ability as a novelist was not as great as it was as a generally all-round creative mind. So much of the impact of HHGG came out of the radio presentation with its imaginative use of sound effects and some quite wonderful ensemble casting and playing. The upshot of this is that after more than thirty years, HHGG still comes up as an original and inspired radio comedy. ( )
2 vote RobertDay | Apr 23, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Douglas Adamsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jones, PeterPerformersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, SimonPerformersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lenska, RulaPerformersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGivern, GeoffreyPerformersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Primary Phase" is a dramatization which corresponds to, but is significantly different from, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", the first book by Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker's series.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0563477881, Audio CD)

A reissue of the first series of BBC Radio 4's humorous science-fiction drama. The story begins when Arthur Dent, not really your average man-in-the-street, finds that the Earth is suddenly destroyed around him, and the great hitch-hike begins.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:47 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Sci-Fi. The Earth is unexpectedly destroyed and the great hitch-hike begins as Arthur Dent discovers the terrible reality of Vogon Poetry and tries to find the Ultimate Question to Life, The Universe and Everything. The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the indispensable electronic book and Earthman Arthur Dent's essential companion throughout his many space adventures. Douglas Adams' science fiction masterpiece was originally broadcast on radio and attracted a dedicated following which led to publication of the novels.… (more)

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