Pic­ture Pre­fect

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 1981 | 15 | BLU-RAY/DVD Di­rec­tor alan JW Bell Cast si­mon Jones, david dixon, Mark Wing-davey, san­dra dick­in­son

There is a con­sen­sus that Dou­glas Adams’s blend of ab­sur­dism, par­ody and philo­soph­i­cal wit re­mains peer­less in the sphere of SF com­edy, but the BBC TV adap­ta­tion gets lit­tle love from cer­tain quar­ters. This seems a tad un­fair.

Sure, the an­i­ma­tronic so­lu­tion to the prob­lem of Zaphod Bee­ble­brox’s se­cond head is off-puttingly crude, San­dra Dick­in­son is oddly coun­ter­in­tu­itive cast­ing as Tril­lian, and the con­cep­tion of “para­noid an­droid” Marvin as a clunky ’50s-style ro­bot is ques­tion­able – though ar­guably, it’s fit­tingly frus­trat­ing for his ge­nius to be trapped in such a lum­ber­ing shell. But Si­mon Jones, re­viv­ing his ra­dio role as Arthur Dent, the hap­less ev­ery­man hitch­hik­ing across the uni­verse af­ter the de­mo­li­tion of Earth, re­mains en­dear­ingly be­wil­dered. In­com­ing Ford Pre­fect David Dixon is on a par with pre­de­ces­sor Ge­of­frey McGivern. And the hand-drawn an­i­ma­tions vi­su­al­is­ing the Guide are a tri­umph; adding ex­tra lay­ers of chuckle-in­duc­ing de­tail, they still look stun­ning 37 years later.

At the very least, it’s a TV ver­sion as good as it could have been at the time, given the gulf be­tween Adams’s soar­ing am­bi­tion and the pos­si­bil­i­ties of a BBC bud­get. And it re­mains light years ahead of the 2005 movie.

Ex­tras The old DVD was pretty well-served, with the likes of an hour-long Mak­ing Of. Those have been car­ried over for this HD de­but, bol­stered by rare clips from the ar­chives. With 18 ad­di­tions in all, there’s too much to list.

At times, the nerdery level re­quired is pretty hard­core: you may strug­gle to stay awake through a BBC train­ing film about the dub­bing suite used on the ra­dio se­ries (14 min­utes). But there are some real treats: Marvin ap­pear­ing on Blue Peter to gloomily pro­mote his pop sin­gle; Adams in­ter­viewed on Na­tion­wide; a book dis­cus­sion show where the au­thor sol­diers on gamely de­spite the host slat­ing his lat­est book! “Writ­ing Hitch­hiker’s” (15 min­utes) draws on old in­ter­views with Adams’s brother James and Pan ed­i­tor Nick Webb to look at his strug­gles with the creative process. The chief de­light, how­ever, is 25 min­utes of stu­dio footage, full of fas­ci­nat­ing fly-on-the-wall in­sights: the Vo­gon cap­tain be­ing sup­plied with a cush­ion; Adams read­ing in lines for ship’s com­puter Ed­die; Jones com­plain­ing about a Kirby wire’s dele­te­ri­ous ef­fects on his “goolies”. Price­less stuff. A sim­i­lar piece on the lo­ca­tion footage turns up clap­per-boards aplenty and a cut model se­quence. A Col­lec­tor’s Edi­tion Blu-ray adds an art card and 24-page book­let. Ian Ber­ri­man

The bridge set for the Heart Of Gold space­ship used a re­volv­ing stage bor­rowed from quiz show Blan­kety Blank.

This is how their first date ended.

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