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Eric: Because I don't need to sell you on the content, here's some chatting about technique

So, in case you don't know, BBC's Radio 4 is broadcasting a third series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That's All I've Got To Say covered the wheres and whys nicely, so I won't retread Chris's ground.

If you find yourself excited by the prospect of new Hitchhikers radio goodness, you won't need me to tell you why. If you're not excited by that prospect, there's little I could say to make you so. So, with your kind indulgence, we'll have the recommendation as read and go on to something I think is interesting: technique.

How does someone take a decades old radio show and make a sequel to it?

For those of you who came in with the books, please understand that the radio show came first. In fact, it contained a considerable amount of additional material and a substantially different ending (including a bit on how Zaphod Beeblebrox was directly responsible for the destruction of the Earth, if I remember correctly), as well as the only time that Rula Lenska did anything other than Alberto VO-5 commercials in my experience) than the book series did. The television series (which I'm geeky enough to own on special edition DVD) was a condensed version of the radio show with some bookish flourishes thrown in, and of course, there are many too many books in the Hitchhiker's Guide Trilogy to actually call it a Trilogy, but that's just part of the fun.

However, to do a new radio series, they've actually chosen to adapt the fourth book in the series, more or less, with some of the third book thrown in, and are completely ignoring where the radio series left off. Which, if one looks at the later Hitchhiker's books, is absolutely apropos.

They absolutely nailed the "old school feel," however. In part because they brought back the theme music, theramins and all. Not a remixed version of the theme music, a la the various Doctor Who revivals, but the exact same music that heralded the start of the radio episodes and the television show. And, although Peter Jones has passed on, they used his voice as the voice of the book in the beginning, retelling the famous opening prologue of... well, almost every version, but distorted it as if the speakers on the Book were failing. Then they gradually sampled in the new actor's voice, along with an explanation that as part of the ongoing upgrades to the Book, one could now have a variable voice, though it wasn't quite working right at the moment.

As a result, the old school fan had a perfect introduction to the series, and therefore was willing to accept that Trillian hadn't even been in the second series.

Plus, it's free to listen to online. I mean, how cool is that?

Posted by Eric Burns-White at October 1, 2004 12:55 PM

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