Sub-Etha Radio With Pictures.
June 18, 2017 9:42 PM   Subscribe

Because we clearly needed yet another version, Nick Page has animated the first episode of the Hitchhiker's Guide Radio Series.
posted by Sparx (45 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is good!

I sometimes wonder what the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would have been like if it had adhered to the pattern laid out by the first episode, which is clearly setting up to be a kind of series where Ford and Arthur travel to lots of different worlds and have generic adventures as Guide Researchers, instead of getting caught up with Zaphod and Trillian and the Question to the Ultimate Answer and so forth.

I suppose one could imagine that happening after the events of Radio Mostly Harmless (book Mostly Harmless kind of makes it impossible, sadly).
posted by JHarris at 10:42 PM on June 18 [9 favorites]


Someone should steal it.
posted by Artw at 10:59 PM on June 18


This is well done, but the drawing style isn't really sitting right with me because it's like some sort of weird amalgamation of South Park and Family Guy and I'm fighting all of my negative associations with both of those because this is actually pretty good
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:57 AM on June 19 [9 favorites]


It's nice to get reacquainted with the radio-only bits. (Every version of HHGttG has bits that aren't in any other version.) Like....

Ford: "Now then... where are we?"
Arthur: "I hardly like to say this, but it looks just like the sea front at Southend."
Ford: "God I'm relieved to hear you say that."
Arthur: "Why?"
Ford: "Because I thought I must be going mad."
Arthur: "Perhaps we weren't rescued after all... perhaps we've... died."
Ford: "What's that meant to mean?"
Arthur: "When I was young I used to have this nightmare about dying. I used to lie awake at night screaming. All my schoolfriends went to heaven or hell, but I got sent to Southend!"
posted by JHarris at 1:32 AM on June 19 [14 favorites]


This is total 2000's era Flash animation quality, limited animations, default Verdana font, and all.

That said, this is an incredible amount of work for a fan, so I'm just happy it exists.
posted by fnerg at 3:35 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]


So far it is reminding me quite a lof of Bananaman.
I hope the others will follow, this is really good.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:45 AM on June 19


Being the original radio series, and the first episode at that, there is also some Early Installment Weirdness as Adams was working the characters out. For instance, every later version of HHGTTG has Ford, rather than Arthur, persuading Mr Prosser to just assume that Arthur is still there whilst they go down the pub, which is far more in accordance with how we come to see Ford and Arthur's personalities.

I do like the depiction of Oolon Colluphid as resembling Richard Dawkins. Dawkins was of course later a close friend of Douglas Adams, but they didn't meet until years after HHGTTG and Adams hadn't even heard of Dawkins at the time he wrote this (and Dawkins, in any event, didn't begin to acquire his reputation as a militant atheist until The Blind Watchmaker in the late 1980s.) Nonetheless I found it hard to read The God Delusion without mentally subtitling it Well, That About Wraps It Up For God.
posted by Major Clanger at 4:10 AM on June 19 [8 favorites]


a kind of series where Ford and Arthur travel to lots of different worlds and have generic adventures as Guide Researchers, instead of getting caught up with Zaphod and Trillian and the Question to the Ultimate Answer and so forth

Ewww. You got your Rick and Morty in my HHGG.
posted by flabdablet at 4:53 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


I think you meant to say I got Classic Doctor Who in HHGttG, to which Rick and Morty is itself a reference. Douglas Adams had already script edited for Doctor Who at the time he created Hitch-Hikers. (I think. Maybe it came shortly after? Well, Who was certainly on his mind at the time.)
posted by JHarris at 5:08 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


I'm always a little sad that people feel so compelled to force a fixed visual interpretation on Hitchhiker's, because the most mundane visuals of the original radio series are almost infinitely superior to the very best attempts at everything made since, and are personalized for every listener.
posted by sonascope at 5:33 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]


Oh no, not again.
posted by Devonian at 6:16 AM on June 19 [12 favorites]


I didn't sit down and watch the whole thing, just some of the key moments from the first Fit, and it's pretty okay. I think the one thing that irks me most about the animation is that the human(oid) characters don't blink. That's creepy.

That said, it visually straddles a good line between the BBC TV miniseries, which it's sub-Doctor Who special effects budget (guess all the money went to the guide animations), and the Movie Adaptation, which---though flawed---is significantly better than it gets credit for being. Plus, the movie depiction of the Vogons is absolutely spot on, and was clearly the animator's reference for this.
posted by SansPoint at 6:59 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


  the Movie Adaptation, which---though flawed---is significantly better than it gets credit for being

It was a colossal pile of fetid dingo's kidneys. Its only saving grace was the knit-o-vision scene on Heart of Gold.
posted by scruss at 7:09 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Opinions vary a lot on the movie!

It's much-maligned, but if you look carefully at it the production design goes into a huge amount of detail showing things that were little more than throw-away references in the original radio series or DA's own novelisation. And much of the casting was very good (Bill Nighy was born to play Slartibartfast).

Where it fell down - by which I mean where it committed an unforgivable sin in the eyes of HHGTTG fans everywhere - was in jettisoning DA's own dialogue, which had for the most part survived every other format pretty much intact and had etched itself into the brains of Guide-lovers.
posted by Major Clanger at 7:17 AM on June 19 [4 favorites]


Major Clanger: IIRC, though, DNA wrote the final script for the movie, so anyone complaining about the dialogue changes needs to take it up with him. Except he's currently unavailable to do so.
posted by SansPoint at 7:30 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


I keep hoping Adams is only spending some time dead for tax reasons.
posted by nathan_teske at 7:42 AM on June 19 [14 favorites]


Sadly, DNA went DNR during drafting, and the final script was written by one Karey Kirkpatrick - who was called in some time after the planet was Douglasless: they'd never met, and Kirkpatrick had never read or heard any HHGTTG.

Kirkpatrick talks about writing the script here, and professes great love for DNA's dialogue, but never says how much of it he ended up changing. I suspect the movie just got studio'd to death.
posted by Devonian at 8:07 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]


I keep hoping Adams is only spending some time dead for tax reasons.

God cursed us and left us only the shitty atheists.
posted by Artw at 8:36 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


I think the one thing that irks me most about the animation is that the human(oid) characters don't blink. That's creepy.

Though perfectly appropriate for Ford Prefect.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:10 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]


Bless your heart, scruss.
posted by Guy Smiley at 9:13 AM on June 19


Opinions vary a lot on the movie!

Yeah, I liked it, everyone else on the planet hated it.

(sometimes it seems that way)

This animation was pretty good. I'm not sure it's necessary, but it's a lot better than most unnecessary things and more good stuff in the world is always welcome.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:54 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


It has... some nice design in parts?
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on June 19


ah, those classic sound effects, that sonorous soundtrack, this is MY h2g2. Don't care much for the animation but that's OK
posted by rebent at 10:09 AM on June 19


Opinions vary a lot on the movie!

Yeah, I liked it, everyone else on the planet hated it.


I didn't hate it, I just didn't like it much.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:40 AM on June 19


I felt like the movie played all the right notes in the right order but failed to swing.
posted by ardgedee at 10:46 AM on June 19


It's always great to get some HHGG in your day. The animation is ok. Kind of South Park-ish. FWIW, he has the first part of Episode 2 up now.

My HHGG will always be the television adaptation, as that was my first exposure to the story. Then came the books, of course. To be honest, I don't think I've ever heard the complete radio series. And, I more-or-less liked the movie, but it really is a story that requires serialization.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:24 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


While watching this, it brought home what a quality piece of radio the original format was. Great actors, great casting, loving sound design etc. This gives the animator a pretty solid base to build on, and I think MR Page has done a pretty good job here. Yes it looks like old school flash, but one of the superior implementations. The movement of the pupils fits with what the character is saying - down for solemn, up and the the side for thinking. The characterisations are obviously informed by other media, but still appealing - and the style is not flashy and overladen with quick cuts, but containing the occasional nice visual surprise that recaptures the attention just when you think that perhaps a quicker cut is required.

So yeah - definitely a fan project, but I think the love for the subject shows through the cracks in the plastering.
posted by Sparx at 2:34 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


Amusingly, the movie adaptation of Hitchhiker's Guide has come up as a topic on the latest Roderick on the Line.
posted by SansPoint at 4:26 PM on June 19


It has... some nice design in parts?


Lovely fjords.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:28 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


I am terribly, terribly biassed, as I heard the original radio series on their original broadcasts, as a schoolkid with exactly the right attributes to be completely seduced. And I was totes evangelised in an instant: not many schoolkids listened to Radio 4 back then, so I got to go into school the next day after ep 1 going 'OMG OMG OMG' (well, whatever the slang was in the 70s in West Country playgrounds) 'HAVE YOU HEARD THIS?'.

Obv, my incredible sense of exquisite taste and intellectual acuity was baked in, even back then.

Anyway: if, like Thorzdad, you haven't heard the radio version, you abs-ol-ute-ly must. On headphones, in muted ambient lighting, with a gin and tonic to hand (I couldn't comply with that on first hearing, but have subsequently, and can confirm it's what DNA would have wanted). There are some fairly crappy low-bandwidth streams out there, but if you know where hoopy froods share and enjoy, you will be rewarded.
posted by Devonian at 4:32 PM on June 19 [6 favorites]


Devonian: The radio series is available on Audible.com—make sure you buy the ones labelled Primary Phase and Secondary Phase, so as not to accidentally get the audiobook of the novel. There are also the BBC Radio adaptations of the third, fourth, and fifth novels (Tertiary, Quandary, and Quintessential Phase), which are not as good as the original two phases, but still darn good. They even got DNA (via archival recording) to provide the voice of Agrajag for the Tertiary Phase.
posted by SansPoint at 4:54 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


My feelings on the movie are… complicated. Broadly speaking, it's a treat to look at, but less so to actually watch. The art design was broadly great, but too much of it also felt like they were in love with their own cleverness as super-fans (the squashed deer seat, for instance, or the utterly gratuitous final image of Douglas Adams' face), and in the end it suffered because it felt as though they weren't really trying to make a movie for people who weren't already fans of the franchise. It had some redeeming qualities and moments, like everything about the planet Vogon, but you could also tell that not only was it stuck in Development Hell, the dialogue had been tampered with by a frankly inferior writer.

On the other hand, for the most part, it was merely passively bad, rather than actively bad, so it at least had that going for it over the Hobbit movies (though I did walk out of the first Hobbit movie noting that my friend, a huge LotR fan, sounded just like I did after the Hitchhiker's Guide movie, when I was trying to convince myself that I'd liked it).
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:52 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


On headphones, in muted ambient lighting, with a gin and tonic to hand

I generally prefer a Ouisghian Zodah, but point taken.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:57 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


The Hobbit movies made me actively angry in the first ten minutes and I didn't make it through the first hour of them, which roughly brings you to the end of the party at Bagend. 0 out of 10, did not leave the shire.
posted by Artw at 5:57 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


The Hobbit movies made me actively angry in the first ten minutes and I didn't make it through the first hour of them

Same here, although I will say that the scene with Bilbo and Smaug (part 1, part 2) is pretty cool.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:08 PM on June 19


One thing I noticed about halfway through the first Hobbit movie was that everything was literally twice as long as it needed to be. When they were later climbing through the mountain pass, and we saw one of Our Boys slip and fall and be narrowly caught at the last minute not once, but twice, I actually started laughing in the theater.

I actually started reading Twitter during some of the longer and more pointless action set pieces, because there was never any sense of peril or stakes in that movie.

In short, at least the first Hobbit movie was just very very bad.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:30 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


While I'll acknowledge my lifelong bias as a radio drama enthusiast, when I first heard Hitchhiker's on NPR back in '80-'81, it stood apart and still does because of the genuine tour de force sound design courtesy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop at its creative peak. People wax romantic about the sound work on Doctor Who, but that's mere pocket calculator stuff compared to the gorgeous, wry, and astonishingly atmospheric sonic brilliance of Hitchhiker's on radio. The sheer imaginative power of the all-too-brief original radio series was such that I credit it as one of the primary Influences that led me to become an electronic musician.
posted by sonascope at 7:33 PM on June 19 [6 favorites]


Mostly harmless.

No, it's cute, the guy did a fine job. This was waaaay better than the movie!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:55 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


I had the unique pleasure of attending a performance of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show Live, and managed to score autographs from many of the original cast. The theater was boiling hot (I should have brought a towel just to mop up my sweat), but it was one of the most fun Thursday nights of my life.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:56 PM on June 19


There are surprisingly many different audio versions of the Guide (including various 'original vinyl' records), but I don't think the full, unedited, original radio broadcasts were ever released due to various legal issues that arose shortly after the first tx.

I did have some half-OK off-air tape recordings of them (Chrome, no Dolby!) and much better dubs were frequently traded in the more dubious space bars on the pirate planet of Qamdenmarkkit. The official commercial BBC releases are fine, of course, just not quite The One True Guide of legend.
posted by Devonian at 5:35 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]


ETA - Sonascope, have you read Douglas Adams' own recollections of writing the radio series? The Radiophonic Workshop certainly came up with the goods - and how - but DNA 'isself was the primary driving force for the sound design. He wanted it to sound like a concept album, was passionate about the music and the effects, and wrote incredibly complicated notes about exactly how to create things like the Share and Enjoy song (which, wisely, were often creatively interpreted by Paddy Kingsland and His Meisterknobfrobbers). And all on a ridiculously short schedule, which was probably the reason it sounds so fresh.

(Did Radio 4 really sing me a song about having sex with my cat? Apparently so.)
posted by Devonian at 5:56 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]


  Bless your heart, scruss.

Like Devonian, I grew up with the radio series while in school. It's a religious thing; you wouldn't understand …
posted by scruss at 7:35 AM on June 20


I don't think the full, unedited, original radio broadcasts were ever released due to various legal issues that arose shortly after the first tx

"Do you realize that robot can hum like Pink Floyd?"
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:13 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Not to mention Paul Neil Milne Johnstone.
posted by Devonian at 1:12 PM on June 20 [5 favorites]


I don't think the full, unedited, original radio broadcasts were ever released due to various legal issues that arose shortly after the first tx

If SWIM was looking for such things now how might they be named so as to distinguish them from edited versions?
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 9:08 AM on June 23


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