As it goes, I'm glad this post has ended up being written/posted in a Thursday, as one of my favourite quotes from the first book in the 'trilogy of five' happens to be Arthur Dent's revelation that 'it must be a Thursday - I could never get the hang of Thursdays.'
The phenomenon began in 1978 as a radio comedy broadcast by the BBC, the books of which were published between 1979 and 1992. In addition to this, it was made into a TV series in 1981, a computer game in 1984, three comic-book series published by DC comics and a Hollywood film in 2005. The third, fourth and fifth books were adapted into radio series between 2004 and 2005. In 2009, Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer published the sixth installment of the series, titled And Another Thing...
I discovered HHGTTG when I was 18, during my A-levels when I assume I was supposed to be writing an essay or revising for an exam. I read the first couple of chapters of the first book and as soon as I got home, ordered the whole 'trilogy of five'. The first film I ever downloaded from iTunes was the 2005 film. I became quietly obsessed, as I do with many things which often turn out to be a flash in the pan. This, however, has lasted for the best part of four years now, and isn't really showing any signs of diminishing.
As I became familiar with the books before I ever heard the radio series, I always take the books as my base. The book, however, is almost identical to the radio script, which - personally - I like, because it means that whichever one you come across first, you are not disappointed by the other. The radio show being so close to the book's contents means that it sounds like an audiobook, except all of the characters have their own voice and there are some really great sound effects. One of my absolute favourite things about the radio series is that they use the back-track from a Pink Floyd song at one point, which also just so happens to be from my favourite album.
If you haven't seen the film, I recommend it. It's not a heavy-going sci-fi but it's not slapstick or stupid so it should appeal to a fairly wide audience. Here's the trailer, which is also really fantastic:
I often find myself disappointed by film adaptations of hugely popular books, however I was really, really pleasantly surprised by this adaptation, directed by Garth Jennings and starring Martin Freeman and Mos Def. In addition to it being a good adaptation in general - as it's pretty true to the first book throughout, only changing the ending so as to have more of a rounded off sort of effect - the casting is simply wonderful. Mos Def brings Ford Prefect to life, and Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent is so heart-warmingly lovable. The rest of the cast are fantastic too, with Stephen Fry providing the voice-over, including excerpts from the Guide itself, Zooey Deschanel playing the part of Tricia 'Trillion' Macmillon, Bill Nighy playing the role of a man who's name does not matter. (Slartibartfast) Other cast members are no less significant, including the likes of Dame Helen Mirren, Bill Baily, Sam Rockwell and Alan Rickman, among other notable names, making the film familiar on a level other than the fact that it's quite similar to the first book.
The success of HHGTTG has sparked its very own day of celebration/commemoration; the 25th of May was pronounced 'towel day' back in 2001, two weeks after the death of author Douglas Adams, where fans carry a towel with them. This is due to the significance of towels in the series,which is described in the 'guide' as follows:
'A Towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V...More importantly, a towel has an immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (non-hitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has a towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits...Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have 'lost'.' (pg. 22)
The thing which really makes me adore the series is Douglas Adams' 'voice' throughout - he never tries to over-simplify over over-complicate, he is sarcastic and witty, and writes as though he's telling you everything over a cup of coffee. In short, it is a casual easy read/watch/listen. I'd be pretty happy to read this to a child, with the omission/amendment of a few words here and there, as it is so easy-going, it's easy to get into, it's easy to love the characters, it's easy to stick with. It's a great book for the train, it's good background noise, it's a good film to watch late at night when you can't sleep too well, or even if you're a bit sleepy - it doesn't take too much thought and the bits that do are explained by Stephen Fry.
I think it's pretty clear that I adore this series in many of its forms, and I would recommend it so much to anyone who'll listen. If you've not read/seen/heard it, I emphatically urge you to, if you have, pop a comment below what your favourite part is, your favourite character, etc., Maybe even some fun movies facts or blooper type things. For now though...
So that was this week's review, I'll include a link to the radio series on here, which should link to a playlist someone has helpfully made which has all the parts in order. Next week, we're back to the normal Tuesday review/ Creative Thursday, so Tuesday will be a review of series 3 of Game of Thrones. Thursday is likely to be the last bit of The Following too, so if you have any suggestions for things you'd like to see in the future, drop me a comment, or tweet me @EmphaticPanda. Until Tuesday, lots of love!
Oh! Oh! I forgot! FIVE PANDAS!
Oh! Oh! I forgot! FIVE PANDAS!