I know where mine is!
For those of you who don’t know, this is the sixth “phase” in the Hitchhikers “trilogy” by Douglas Adams. Adams died very young, of a heart attack I believe, and he left the work unfinished, or at least with a lot of loose strings. I’ve not read the book, I have listened to the radio series.
Eoin Colfer is a very good writer, and pulled on those strings to “tidy up” the endings.
Stephen Mangan voices the radio adaptation, and he is also very good.
Peter Serafinowicz, who is also very talented, plays the voice of the guide.
The shame is, three good things combined makes something that isn’t quite as great as the original. The charm of the original Hitchhikers series was the “To hell with the budget” attitude given to the production. It had a full cast, the most decadent special effects ever heard on radio (which even stand up pretty well against modern productions), and the cast seemed to have an awesome time making it. This new addition has Stephen Mangan voicing all the characters. He’s a talented voice actor, but it’s just not really enough.
In my opinion, the story seems a bit disjointed (and not in a cool Douglas Adams-y kinda way, more in a written on post-its and scattered across the carpet kinda way) and the production seems, well, cheap. As far as Hitchhikers was concerned, Adams always wanted the best. He wanted a “Peter Jones-y” voice for the book. The BBC said that THE Peter Jones was too expensive, and spent a long time looking for a sound-a-like. And guess what Douglas Adams ended up with? That’s right! Peter Jones!
Yes, I know they will have wanted to do it differently, because it isn’t written by Adams, and it is modern, and all that stuff. But when it comes down to it, it is a continuation with the same characters, the same ideas and the same settings. You can’t lift those out and change the format any more than Tim Burton could have directed the final Harry Potter film! (Although, that could be bloody AWESOME!) With something that established, when you mess with it, it could (or probably will) end up an absolute mess.
I really think that the loss of Adams at quite a young age (only 49!) was dreadful. He was a fantastic writer, and I’d even describe him as an artist. He created several worlds across a variety of media formats, which I think makes him more than simply a writer.
This attempt to re-mould his ideas seems cheap and tacky, and I’m hugely disappointed that it doesn’t do more to honour Adams’ memory. I’m glad that, after all this disappointment, I have my experience with the Hitchhikers Live! tour to turn back on. That was a truly awesome night, put together by the original cast, with a decent amount of proper humour and a nice tip of the hat to Douglas too.
The sad thing is, if this new series was a stand-alone I’d probably be heralding it as a triumph and saying how much I loved it, but I guess it’s that “tricky sequel problem”.