We can all agree that the movie version of “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” failed, right? I mean, it was terrible. It wasted the talents of some very good actors like Martin Freeman and Sam Rockwell (I am literally traumatized to the point where I can’t watch “Moon”, because I can’t believe that the man who gave that performance as Zaphod Beeblebrox is actually capable of acting) and spent a lot of its time cutting away brilliant dialogue and clever narration to focus on action sequences and set-pieces that should never be the focus of a comedy to begin with. It made back its money, it didn’t get totally shredded by the critics, but I think it’s safe to say that history has not been kind to it.
And we can all agree that while it was better-acted and better-scripted, the original TV adaptation of “Hitch-Hiker’s” had some serious problems with its production values, right? I mean, trying to do a story on the scope of Douglas Adams’ novels, one that starts with the destruction of the entire planet and moves on to the building of a whole new one, taking in two-headed aliens and vast varieties of epic visuals along the way, on a BBC budget in the 80s…let’s just call it over-ambitious and leave it at that.
But there is a version of “Hitch-Hiker’s” that’s already very well-acted and perfectly-scripted. It’s the original audio play that aired on BBC Radio, the one that Adams adapted into his novel. And there is a medium where budget doesn’t matter and anything that the mind can conceive, the screen can portray. It’s animation. And with the advances in computer animation, it’s easier than ever for the average computer user to make professional-quality animation.
So this is what this leads me to: What if you took the BBC Radio play as the soundtrack for an animated adaptation? Sure, it’d be a copyright violation, and doing the whole thing would probably be out of the financial reach of most hobbyist animators…but if you broke it up into five minute chunks, say, and had each person just animate their five minutes, you’d wind up with a fascinating range of visual styles and a potentially high-quality adaptation of what has famously been seen as one of the great unadaptable sci-fi stories. And as long as nobody made money off it and nobody sued, who’d complain?
Call me crazy, but I actually think this is a good idea.