Friday, May 25, 2007

Towel Day '07

I pondered a few ways to mark this occasion in my little corner of the blogosphere. I could watch and review the Hitch-hikers movie, but it still won't be that good a review, so I'll try something more positive. I could review the TV series, only I haven't watched that for a while. I could lament the fact that I ditched my old VHS copies of the TV series when I got it on DVD, before I realised that not all the VHS content was on the new version. Ah, little animated Babel Fish, you will be missed. A bit.

I should really review the CDs of the last 3 radio series, because they were actually good, but that would entail sitting through them again. Which would take longer than remains of Towel Day in this time zone.

Instead I'm going to cop out royally and post a slightly edited review I wrote when the Quandary Phase aired a couple of years ago.

Even though I was introduced to Hitchhikers through the TV series, the first time I heard the original radio series (on a mid-90s repeat airing) I knew I was experiencing something special. This was, after all, the medium Hitchhikers was created for, and it shows. The Secondary Phase, with a plot wildly different from any other Hitchhiker variant, remains my favourite part of the canon, perhaps because it remains the least well-known.

There are those who think the current crop of radio shows don't compare to the original late 70s episodes; the Tertiary Phase suffered mainly from poor source material - Life, the Universe and Everything, itself recycled from a rejected Doctor Who story, is the weakest of the five novels for my money. But So Long and Thanks for all the Fish was a love story, a change of pace from the all out action of it's predecessor. Hearing some of the same characters with different voices (Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, Slartibartfast, and of course the Book) took a bit of getting used to, but the main characters sounded just the way I remembered them.

Overall Dirk Maggs made an excellent job with the new adaptations, modernising the source material much more successfully than the movie (mankind's early 80s fascination with digital watches being replaced with a 2005 fascination with cellphones, for instance), and it still sounds like Douglas could have written it.

The Tertiary, Quandary and Quintesential Phases are a far better reflection of the true genius of Adams' original than the movie, and for my money should be this generation's tribute to him.

Long live Douglas Adams.

Towel Day :: A tribute to Douglas Adams (1952-2001)

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