Saturday, June 23, 2012

AUDIO DRAMA REVIEW: Bring Your Towel and Hitch a Ride to the Stars

(Originally posted at OTHERREALMS AUDIO)
Back to the beginning.

Back before the movie, before the TV series, before the novels.

Back to March 8, 1978 when BBC Radio 4 first aired the opening banjo melody that marked the theme of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

It's a deliciously joyous romp across the stars with Simon Jones as "Arthur Dent," Geoffrey McGivern as "Ford Prefect," and Mark Wing-Davey as "Zaphod Beeblebrox," with Stephen Moore as "Marvin, the Paranoid Android" and Peter Jones as "the Book."

As usual, the BBC delivers top-notch audio drama and Hitch-Hiker's is one of their best. Solid writing and acting and wonderful sound effects. The sound of the Babel Fish, for instance, makes me react much the same as if I'd bitten into a lemon.

Simon Jones gives a nicely baffled and often fish-out-of-water sensibility for Arthur. Geoffrey McGivern lends Ford Prefect a nicely adventuresome air with a touch of the jaded veteran. And Mark Wing-Davey shines as Zaphod: conniving, condescending (to Arthur), brash, fame-hungry, and likeable all at the same time.

Then you have Stephen Moore as Marvin. Eeyore as automaton. Brilliantly depressing. Moore imbues Marvin with as much life as Anthony Daniels did C-3PO. Except instead of being an uptight, overly-talky protocol droid, we get a manically depressed, morose, and cynical droid with a brain the size of a planet (who will tell you as much).

And Peter Jones as The Book has just the right blend of authority and friendliness. Like the late Steve Irwin, only British instead of Australian.

If your only exposure to Hitch-Hiker's has been through the books, the TV series, or the movie, get a copy of the first series and experience it the way it's meant to be experienced.

Truly a joy for the ears.

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