Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I don’t like DVDs.

More specifically, I don’t like all the extras that come with them.

I mean – imagine you’ve just seen the most amazing mind-blowing film of your entire life. You’ve just lived in this other world, you’ve just been this other person, you’ve fought the odds, felt the feelings, laughed, cried and found a new way of living. And then the closing credits roll and you sit there actually missing the characters that you’ve spent the past couple of hours with.

What’s the first thing you do?

That’s right - watch it all again, only with the director and actors pointing out all the mistakes.


I suppose it’s a bit like watching a magic trick and then immediately being shown how it was done. “Oh but I like to know how tricks are done,” people will protest, people who have no magic in their lives.

Anyway, at a loose end tonight I found flatmate Dave’s DVD copy of the TV series The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and decided not to watch it.

I mean how can I? I’ve seen it so many times before, heard the radio episodes, heard the LPs, read the books, heck I even played Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz in a friend’s college radio coursework once. I knew the whole script, so what new experience was there to be gained from watching it yet again?

(I omitted the movie from the above monologue because it reinforced the other versions so little)

I mean WHY?And anyway, a back-to-front photo on the cover never bodes well.

So I just popped-in disc 2 and watched all the extras instead.

That’s right - without watching the original.

The other problem with extras of course, particularly with archive TV series, can equally be their scarcity. Filling-out the disc here, we had unedited studio footage of a scene with little action, the warm-up for the studio-audience (whose laugh-track wasn’t used) (and indeed isn’t on the warm-up) and, incredibly, a montage of all the original uninformed BBC2 continuity announcements. You know the sort of thing:

You're watching BBC-2"Well, beaming-down to save the world now on Two, light-years in the future at time-zone 9pm, hitching a ride on the infinite improbability-drive of comedy, it’s Douglas Madams’ space-fi opera A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Universe."

(Alright I exaggerate, click here for what they actually included)

Now I’m not really knocking these things – they are each a curiosity – but you must admit that they do tend to subtract from the thrill of having watched the actual programme.

Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, with babel fish and wedding-ring
The Making Of documentary features the producer talking about how rubbish Zaphod’s second head was. Slartibartfast’s wonderfully effective aircar is shown with strings and different actors inside. And then there are the outtakes with all those familiar lovable characters using the F word.

But I’ve found that one of the loveliest things about Hitchhiker is that every time I come back to it, I find something new. There are so many hidden jokes and complex plot-threads, that even tonight in one clip I spotted a fresh joke about teasing.

Maybe I should sit down and watch the whole remarkable series just one more time.



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