...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...
This weekend, i re-rented The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, the cheesy 1981 BBC version that i used to rave about. i won't be doing that anymore. It does not hold up to a second viewing.
The fact is, i only saw it once before, many years ago, when a friend let me borrow the videotape. i was really blazed at the time. i seemed to remember thinking the low budget special effects (none) were much funnier than they actually are.
The BBC version, in fact, is pretty sucky. Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect seem gay. The chick who plays Trillian is simply annoying and unpleasant to watch, as is Zaphod Beeblebrox, who can't decide what accent to use. i wanted to strangle Marvin the depressed robot by the end of the three hours.
Zaphod Beeblebrox's extra head is comical. It moves on its own, but it looks worse than a papier mache replica. It's really bad.
i did like the little interludes when the narrator read from the Guide. These are illustrated with typical 80's videogame style graphics that seem to still work for me. The narrator delivers the funny lines with perfect deadpan timing. All the scenes on the Vogon spaceship were well done and funny too. The Vogon captain's poetry was classic.
i also detected a slight British high-brow anti-Americanism, which i hadn't noticed the first time i saw it. i'm more sensisitive to these things now. For instance, a couple of the characters spoke in caricatures of American dialects. Some guards talked like they were from Brooklyn, and Trillian sounded like a gum chewing waitress. And when Ford and Zaphod sing a death song in one of the later episodes, the melody is the Star Spangled Banner. Why is it that the Brits all know our national anthem?
That's something that has always bothered me about the British intelligentsia. They love us, yet they hate us. They act superior, yet we give them an inferiority complex. They're obsessed with us. It's kind of pathetic.
Anyways, i don't recommend the old BBC version, except to Dr. Who fans, who are all desensitized to bad sci-fi effects already.
i'm a big fan of the book, and i do plan on seeing the newest feature version. i think Douglas Adams is a modern day Swift.