Cancelled Too Soon: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981)

By | December 4, 2015

Hitchhikers_Guide_TV_TitlesThe first season of this series brought Douglas Adams’ classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to the small screen and told the story of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillian, Martin the Paranoid Android and more as they travel the universe to find the ultimate answer to the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything (followed by a quest to figure out what exactly the question was in the first place).  It followed pretty closely to the BBC radio series (where Hitchhiker’s Guide got its start) and I personally consider it an excellent television adaptation despite its limited budget (and it did a much better job with the material than the mega-dollar film version that came out in 2005).  It’s probably not completely accurate, though, to claim that the TV series was cancelled because short runs are not uncommon for BBC productions.  But the fact is that a another season was planned but then called off when Adams and BBC could not come to an agreement. Interestingly, the second series would not have adapted the second installment of the radio series The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, but would have been based on an unproduced Doctor Who script by Adams originally intended for a potential movie titled “Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen”. Of course fans of the series will recognize from the Krikkitmen reference in the that title that Adams did eventually incorporate the story into the third Hitchhiker’s Guide novel Life, the Universe and Everything.   But unfortunately we only got the one season of the television show instead of an adaptation of each of the cycles that would follow in the book/radio series.  Fortunately the TV series version is available on DVD for those who would like to revisit it or who never saw it when it first came out.  You need to prepare yourself for its low production values (which are actually better than classic Doctor Who of the time), but I personally believe that the show still holds up well today and provides an excellent addition to the Hitchhiker’s Guide legacy.

Aired: BBC/PBS, 1981, 1 Season Totaling 6 Episodes

Created By: Douglas Adams

Starring: Simon Jones, David Dixon, Sandra Dickinson, Peter Jones

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