Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy returns to the screen in new Hulu series

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/07/26/hitchhikers-guide-to-the-gal.html


I love them, but they’re statues in the pantheon. They’re coupled to a peculiar long-ago moment of the British middle-class comic imagination that seems tantalizingly similar to certain modern frequencies but which is, in truth, in another universe. The context that made it magical is gone, even to those suspceptible to that particular English glamour, and all that most will find there is a likeable but disengaged ritual of humor.

Are you skeptical that there are enough people like you and me who love that book to make the project successful?

Adams’ work is still gaining new fans and all the old ones are still there (mostly). My 16 year old was assigned it for school last year and she loved it. I think the fanbase is bigger than it ever was although it might not be as fanatical as it once was.


I read the books as an American teenager in the early 2000’s, so I don’t think I experienced the context you’re alluding to, but I certainly found them magical. Maybe that context is not as integral for others’ enjoyment as it was for yours?


I don’t really have an answer. I’m not saying no-one can find it or that it’s necessary to enjoy it. But I do suspect that the whole “let’s spend millions marketing this beloved classic to an international audience” idea behind modern adaptations often rests upon a deep misapprehension of why people like things.


That is the truth, for sure.


I am torn as the differences between the radio show, books, tv show and movie though I am not sure how much of Adams’ script survived the movie, are deliberate as he wanted to explore different ideas each time he came back to the story.


So far, the production team includes Carlton Cuse as showrunner and Jason Fuchs as feature writer. Cuse’s television credits include Lost

Oh no!

Bates Motel , The Strain , and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

OK, I guess he does better when there’s an actual story and plot to work with.

I remain cautiously optimistic.

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The context that made it magical is gone, even to those suspceptible to that particular middle-class English glamour, and all that most will find there is a likeable but disengaged ritual of humor.

Not unlike Monty Python, actually. As with that, there’s jokes that still work, jokes that don’t but you can get how they would, and jokes that are a bit cringey due to changes in social mores.

Also, the conceit of a slightly dodgy encyclopedia that one can carry around in a pocket as in the eponymous guide isn’t quite so science-fictional with anyone with the Wikipedia app on their phone.


For me, there was never the HHGTTG. There was the radio show, the books, the TV series, the text adventure, and finally the movie. They were all different, all their own incarnations of the same story. So the new series can be good or bad, we will see. But IMHO it has the liberty to find new story arcs, new ways to tell already known things. The only difference to all the versions before is, that there will be no direct involvement of Douglas Adams, and it has to be seen how that affects the comedy and the absurdity.


Was Jack Ryan good?

Python is a great example.

In its defense (and Adams’) there’s a forth category: jokes (even problematic ones) that become funnier due to changes in society.

Graham Chapman’s bug-eyed ranting authority figures, for example. They used to lampoon a particular echelon of brutally stupid reactionary Briton that were then military and corporate boardroom archetypes, and at a certain remove from everyday life. But their modern euivalents are now running the country without any supervision at all from the civil service or (at least this week) from voters. So the chance of running into a petit chapman on the train or in the pub is a form of dread that’s been successfully rebooted.


There’s some part of me that hopes it’s not a pageant of half-hearted period-nostalgia porn. I kind of want to see Arthur Dent with an unpretentiously modern little house and a stupid cell phone. And by “modern little house” I mean something the Arthur Dent of some “today” would recognisably live in/afford adjusted for inflation.

If they’re going to do it, I’d prefer a funny soul in a new body, than something that just looks like a fresh clone from another era, with none of the spirit.

More Into the Spider-Verse, less of the thousands of Ren-Faire costumed, bloodless re-makes with young actors trying so hard to be the same and different at the same time.


Sure, if you’re okay with Clancy’s imperialist, casually racist milieu.


Guessing you aren’t a Mark Twain fan either…

I just rewatched the old BBC series not that long ago, and the new movie with the kiddo. I bought her the book to read, as she is the right age for the wit to seem even wittier than it is. But she has been too busy to read it.

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Strawman-ing doesn’t change my opinion. Besides, Clancy’s stuff is far enough into the now, that it would have been easy not to do the project at all. It’s a technically well-produced show, with many fine performances, but we’re not still trying to pretend it’s the 80s anymore, one would hope.

Here’s a good think-piece on Twain, with many other blog posts…

Anyhow, the post is about HHGTTG. Let’s get back on topic.


Oh yes it bloody well can.


Every iteration of the story was different. From Radio Play (It’s here free on archive.org!) to Book to TV to Movie. The streaming version is uniquely placed to reinvent the story again. Adams never tied it down. It was fluid. I really do hope they keep the spirit but move the story.

Bureaucrats and bypasses destroying lives and how small yet important yet silly our problems really are in the grand scheme of things is always poignant.

So please reserve judgement. The universe gets enough of that already.


19-year old daughter of one of my neighbours got pretty exited as she found a collected volume of all 5 novels in english (shes german and read the german translation when she was also 16) in our neighbour-shared gift-shelf.


Go and find the radio show called The Burkiss Way: lesson 36 (series 5 episode 2) : Rise From The Grave The Burkiss Way (9 April 1979).