THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY THE QUINTESSENTIAL PHASE: Fit the Twenty-Six (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2005
As the final notes of the Eagles' "Journey of the Sorcerer" fade into silence, so ends the legacy of Douglas Adams in the medium that gave birth to it. The fourth installment of the Quintessential Phase of THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY closes one door even as the premiere of the theatrical film opens another, but it certainly signals the passing of its creator more poignantly than its cinematic counterpart. For, though Adams's visage is honored in the film, the man himself has an integral part to play in the fate of Arthur Dent and his merry band of fellow travelers.
The satire is in top form with corporate bottom line thinking bringing about needless destruction for bureaucracy's sake. The Vogons have infiltrated that once liberal bastion of arcane knowledge, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and corrupted it into a common-denominator, mass-appeal compendium of worthless rubbish. Without a doubt, this story is a timely entry in the annals of science fiction humor. It's here to remind us what things used to be like. It's here to observe how things have changed. It's here to wake us up to the suits and ties we promised our younger selves we'd never stifle our ideals with. It's got its flaws, but its sober appraisal of the world we live in isn't one of them.
As expected, the cast are in top form for their swansong. Old timers like Jones, McGivern, Wing-Davey, and Sheridan are like old friends at a twenty-year reunion--the sun's coming up and yesterday must once again give way to today. The HITCHHIKER'S radio newcomers keep the standards high, and Sandra Dickinson continues to shine as Sheridan's alter ego. As foretold in the second series, the endlessly unfortunate Agrajag makes yet another terminal appearance, and everyone who hears this episode must once again thank Zarquon that Adams himself read the audio books of his novels. A more appropriate, if tragically accurate, tribute could not have been better executed.
The denoument will likely come as a shock to those expecting the nihilistic finale of MOSTLY HARMLESS to be rendered in its totality. Here, Maggs makes a philosophical sidestep that seems strangely appropriate in light of Adams's staunch atheism. Taking his cue from Zaphod's metaphysical mistake in the fifth episode of the first series, Maggs returns to a well-remembered venue for a last look at the gang. The finale may not be perfect, but nothing ever is. What it lacks in perfection, it more than makes up for in affection. This was clearly a labor of love for everyone involved, and its completion can't help but bring a smile to the faces of the faithful. Maggs and his compatriots have, astoundingly, resolved the shockingly discontinuitous tangents of the various transmedia interpretations of the story to form a cohesive whole that not only breathes life back into favorite characters, but comments with absolute authority on the world of today as if the decade separating the source texts from the radio adaptations were mere minutes. Such a feat should be appreciated. Thanks, Dirk. We miss you, Douglas.
Mania Grade: A
Reviewed Format: Radio Show
Network: BBC Radio 4
Original Airdate: 21 June 2005
Creator: Douglas Adams
Cast: William Franklyn, Rula Lenska, Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, Mark Wing-Davey, Susan Sheridan, Sandra Dickinson, Stephen Moore, Samantha Béart, and Douglas Adams
Writer: Dirk Maggs
Director: Dirk Maggs