Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hitch-hikers' Guide to the Galaxy, TV version

Had a great video-watching day today, watching the 1981 TV version of The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Brilliant.

After watching the movie earlier this year, I thought I'd order the TV version from Movieshack. My list is so long that I only got the DVD this weekend.

Back in 1981 I was just a little fella and 9:30pm was "really late" for me to watch TV, but I do remember being allowed to watch at least two episodes, and I particularly remembered the very last, with Louis Armstrong's "What a wonderful world" playing. I remembered that oddly satisfied feeling that the ending of the series brought.

Watching it now as a grownup, I thought it would look really naff, particularly when compared with the movie. But no, on every level, particularly the acting and special effects, I was really impressed.

Sure, the effects were 1980s pre-digital effects, but they were done with a great deal of effort. I guess the main reason they stood out to me was I'd just seen some footage from Dr. Who in the 1960s, when visual effects were done in a rushed manner, and without a lot of technical effort. (It seems, anyway. Maybe it was the best they could do with what they had available.)

But the acting and the writing are the things that have sustained The Guide throughout all it's media adventures - radio show, record, TV series, computer game, books, and now movie. And apparently a beach towel.

If a great story simply starts with a "What If?" question, Hitch Hikers Guide just never stops asking those questions. It has a universe that is internally consistent - it follows its own rules, even when there's an Infinite Improbability Generator nearby. In fact such organised chaos is what makes it such a cool story. The radio plot is slightly different from the record, which is different from the TV show, which is different from the books, and the movie is different again. But it doesn't matter, because the whole story is about the improbably coming true.

It's really neat to return to the works which shaped my young imagination (Hitch Hiker's Guide, Dr. Who, Blakes 7, Star Wars, Star Trek, Knight Rider to name a few) and see them through my eyes now, see why they appealed so much to me. I guess this helps me make sure that stories I write in the future will be for me, whether me now, or the younger me. If I try to write for anyone else I will not be writing truly. If I write for myself, the right people will like it.

Unless, of course, I'm a total freak.

Which is, of course, the fear of all of us. Maybe that would make a good theme for a story. Someone who discovers they are a total freak, completely unlike anyone around them.


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