Production 9
Direction 9
Characterisation 9
Storyline 10
Acting 9
Fun/Sexy/Cool 10

We watched, transfixed, as the dulcet tones of Peter Jones introduced this colossally innovative, elegantly tacky and wondrous story that has become one of the all time great cult comedy tv sci fi adventures……

Summary 9.3 awesome
Production 7
Direction 8
Characterisation 9
Storyline 9
Acting 9
Fun/Sexy/Cool 8
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Summary 8.3 great

Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy: Episode One Review

The first of these whopping shows opened with a smug air of confidence. It knows that it has a pretty hoopy storyline to show us and begins with a couple of simple yet significant time checks:

{Well, this one erm.. is pretty uninteresting really}

{We all raise our left eyebrow and,
as if to usher the point home
without allowing time for it to wipe it’s feet….}

This subtle opening is typical of the whole series (as we are about to see)  The finality of the opening scene was gripping.  We watched, transfixed, as the dulcet tones of Peter Jones introduced this colossally innovative, elegantly tacky and wondrous story that has become one of the all time great cult comedy tv sci fi adventures…….

The Narrator, describes the ‘Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy’. He tells us that the book is more popular that just about any other book even written. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that it is slightly cheaper than it’s nearest rival (The Encyclopaedia Galactica), and secondly that it has the words Don’t Panic inscribed in large friendly letters on the cover.

He explains that this story is told from the perspective of some those whose lives the book has affected…. we then see a scene with a man in his dressing gown (Arthur Dent), opening his curtains to see a bulldozer advancing to knock his house down!

Arthur Dent cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered cool. He’s is about six foot tall and barking mad that a lot of demolition geezers are about to demolish his home! Strangely enough, he doesn’t shoot them with his laser cannon or a bazooka or anything. Arthur, being English and middle class, does what anyone in his situation would do.

He lies in front of the bulldozer!! Yes, this is true, Arthur is not the cleverest of people. It seems that the planning permission to build a bypass (large road) directly through Arthur’s front garden was granted without Arthur’s knowledge. He is therefore surprised, annoyed and confused, (so I think we can give him the benefit of the doubt). I mean what would you do? Arthur continues his protest by lying in the path of the bulldozer.

The head builder tries to talk Arthur out of this futile activity when Arthur’s best buddy Ford Prefect pops over for a visit. Ford is much more of a cool geezer, probably because he is not actually from Earth as everyone thinks, but from a small planet ‘somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse’. With some urgency, Ford attempts to get Arthur to leave his protest and accompany him to the pub!

Ford urgently tries to explain that he has something desperately important that needs to be said in the pub (Red Lion) and it needs to be said now! Poor Arthur, it’s only 11 am and already a load of gits with bulldozers want to knock his house down and his best buddy wants to whisk him away to the pub for a drink while it happens! Arthur objects but Ford Prefect eventually persuades him and the trundle off for a pint or three in the Red Lion. Ford Prefect is a researcher of the Hitch Hikers Guide and was stranded on Earth, one of the planets he was to review. Ford knows only too well that they desperately need a muscle relaxant for hat is about to happen next!

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The guide elucidates for us. It helpfully points out that the bestbefore drink in existence is the PanGalactic Gargleblaster the effects of which are rather like having your brains smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick!

We then see a hoopy looking attractive green woman dressed in a wonderfully ill-fitting sort of metal dress, take a sip. She inelegantly but rather revealingly passes-out on the table. Her drinking partner, the bloke, also passed out but the cameraman however had the good taste to film the upskirt demise of the lady passing out on the table.

If like me, you really just can’t wait to try one (the drink that is), the Guide tells us that suitable hostelries where such fine liquor can be acquired are: The Bistro Illegal in Sector RT 74 on the planet Lazgar Beta; Ziggies Den of Iniquity on Joltrast 3, in sector HKF 58 P {you know, just round the corner from the post office};afteralso the classic, Evildrome Boozerama on XAXRAX SIGMA in Sector XXXZ5QZX {kidney donors get 25% discount} and last but not least, Slim’s Throat Emporium on the planet FROGGRANTQUID ENTRAX (pronounced ‘what – a – bloody – stupid – name – for – a – planet’) in sector GOYIRAX 54. {I’ll see you there!}

The Guide goes on to point out that the inventor of this ‘mind-pummeling drink’ is non other than Zaphod Beeblebrox, whom we will have the good fortune to meet later in the series.

erm... still afterIt has to be said that all this is very interesting, but half of us have our eyes glued to the screen. We’re watching the elegantly prostate figure of some young green skinned lady that has recently passed out after drinking the said beverage. We wonder, eyes transfixed, how – against all the laws of gravity – her boobs didn’t ‘pop’ out of the dress that she was nearly wearing.

Meanwhile our intrepid hero’s enter the local pub and Ford attempts to purchase six pints of beer from the rather chatty barman. He takes the somewhat confused Arthur to one side and tells him that he is not of this Earth but from ‘a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse’. Arthur looks unimpressed, ‘This must be Thursday,’ he says, ‘ I never could get the hang of Thursdays.’

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A few miles above them a Vogon Spaceship prepares to make an announcement.

In the pub, Arthur learns that the builders are knocking his house down! He runs off. Ford purchases some salted peanuts from the barman and chases after him. Arthur arrives at his house to see the bulldozers moving in. He shouts What the Hell's THAT!obscenities (bit tame actually, but they were obscenities to Arthur) at the workmen as Ford tries to calm him. Arthur suddenly looks up and sees a whopping big yellow spaceship slowly moving overhead. ‘WHAT THE HELL’S THAT!?’ he exclaims (as you do). Ford helps Arthur grab hold of his handy transportation device and they beam off into the hull of the passing spaceship.

Next we see one of the best ever examples of comedy science fiction ever produced!

The big yellow ship of destruction passes over the City of London demonstrating some of the worst examples of special effects seen in a Sci fi show. People look up with fear on their faces. Suddenly a toot toot too toot rather like a cheep car horn sounds from the ship and the spaceship Captain makes his announcement.

Dispassionately and with a slight air of bureaucracy he begins…..

“People of Earth, your attention please. This is Prostactic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council. As you are probably aware, the plans for the development of the underlying regions of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy, require the building of a hyperspace express route through your star system. And regrettably your planet is one of those scheduled for demolition. The process will take slightly less that two of your Earth minutes.” He ends the message with a rather dispassionate, “thankyou very much.” before the toot toot too toot sounds, signalling the end of the communication.

The people of Earth are rather upset by this as you can imagine and begin shouting their protest, even the little guy with the sandwich board reading ‘The End is Nigh’ joins in. The point Douglas Adams makes here about the seeming incompetence and unfairness of planning departments throughout the universe rather smacks you in the face at this point and we are still reeling from the irony when the Vogon Captain rather defensively announces, “all the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at you local planning department on Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth Years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge a formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now!”

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The cries of protest continue from the screaming multitudes on Earth, “What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri! Oh for heavens sake mankind, it’s only four light years away you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs that’s your own lookout!He orders the demolition beam to be energised and manoeuvre’s his ship to a safe distance uttering, “God, I dunno, apathetic bloody planet – I’ve no sympathy at all!” He pulls a lever and blasts Earth to smithereens!

Without giving the ex planet a second thought he zooms off!

Ford and Arthur successfully hitched a lift on board the murdering spaceship. Ford tries to explain their predicament when he introduces him to the book Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. Arthur looks in the section about Vogons. ‘What an extraordinary book’ he concludes.

As the wonder around looking for a safe place to rest before the hyperspace jump, they come across a Babel Fish (a fish you stick in your ear that acts as a translation device) tank and some really interesting gadgets and toys like a Hypno Ray and a Stun Gun and Psychic Helmets (all the really cool gizmos we all dreamed of playing when we were young).

Arthur puts the miraculously useful Babel Fish in his ear just in time to hear a message from the Captain (the chief ugly green bloke) that they have been spotted on the ships instruments. A search will take place and once they are found they will be turned off the ship. “I didn’t get where I am by turning my ship into a taxi for a bunch of degenerate freeloaders!” he adds.

Sure enough, after they jump into hyperspace a big and rather stupid looking junior Vogon crewmember finds them! And there the show ends!

Things are looking pretty bad – But what an episode! Within minutes we are introduced to some pretty wacky sci fi concepts, we see our lovely planet blown up and encounter the ugliest bug eyed green monster we’ve ever seen. And you know what? – It gets better!

The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy episode reviews are © 1999 – 2019 Tony Fawl. Not for reproduction without the authors express permission

The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of The British Broadcasting Corporation & Douglas Adams.

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