THE ORIGINAL `GUIDE'.
Though it has come out in many forms - a book, a TV series and now a movie - the original 1979 BBC radio production of ``The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,'' which preceded all the others, is the best of the lot - inspired lunacy.
While the book of ``HGTTG'' allows you to picture, say, the Vogon captain announcing, ``Attention, people of Earth. I regret to inform you that in order to make way for the new hyperspace express route, your planet has been scheduled for demolition. Have a nice day,'' the radio production captures the insipid bureaucratic tone needed.
The radio production also had Simon Jones as befuddled Earthling Arthur Dent. Jones, who has a cameo in the movie, may have been born for the role. There is something very English, very silly, perfectly bewildered in Jones' performance. Jones, who has appeared in such films as ``Monty Python's The Meaning of Life,'' ``Brazil'' and ``Twelve Monkeys,'' was also in the BBC TV production of ``HGTTG,'' and while he was excellent, the show couldn't live up to the original.
So for all you who have heard the original - congratulations.
For the rest of you, forget it - or almost. ``The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Primary Phase'' - that is what they are calling the first part now - is virtually impossible to find in the U.S. at the moment. The BBCshop.com and Amazon.co.uk do stock it, however, for about $21, including shipping.
``The Secondary Phase,'' the second part of the radio production, is available on the U.K. sites for about $21, and Part 3, ``The Tertiary Phase,'' has recently been released in the U.S.; so it's readily available on Amazon.com and in bookstores.
``The Tertiary Phase,'' which has been pumped up for this release, uses Jones and others from the original cast as well as the author himself, Douglas Adams. After ``HGTTG's'' initial success on radio, Adams (who died in 2001) began writing books to continue the saga and had read them for audio books. Adams' voice was lifted from his reading of ``Life, the Universe and Everything,'' Part 3's original title.
The BBC radio version of Parts 1 and 2 are available in a collector's edition at Amazon.co.uk for about $67, and from zbs.org for about $85.
There's also ``The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Deluxe 25th Anniversary Edition'' (Harmony; $35), which includes a history of the show, including some terrific archival shots, as well as the book itself.
The origional BBC radio cast members.