The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV Series

Few writers could turn a phrase quite like the late, great Douglas Adams, whose The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series remains a high watermark for literary comedy and science fiction. Now, we’re greeted with the news that his beloved books are being adapted into a television series on Hulu and I’m reminded of one of his best quotes: “Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” 

Substitute “space” for “online streaming” and it still works. Eventually, there will be enough streaming platforms to accommodate series adaptations of every single thing you have ever loved.

The news of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV series comes our way via Deadline, who report that Lost and Jack Ryan veteran Carlton Cuse and Wonder Woman screenwriter Jason Fuchs are spearheading a new adaptation at Hulu. The series is being produced by ABC Signature, where Cuse has set up shop. Few details are available yet beyond the fact that the series is being developed.

In all of its various forms (we’ll get there in a moment), the series tells the story of mild-mannered Englishman Arthur Dent, who is whisked into outer space by his best friend Ford Prefect (who is actually an alien) when Earth is destroyed by a bureaucratic alien race to make way for a new space highway. Ford is a researcher for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which means Arthur soon finds himself exploring the known and unknown universe, jumping through time and space and encountering all kinds of bizarre and colorful characters, all of whom are an excuse for Adams to skewer his favorite topics (politics, technology, religion, etc.) with wordplay and wit that is sharp enough to draw blood.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy began its life as a popular BBC Radio series, but it became truly immortal when Douglas Adams translated his own work into a series of novels. The first book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was published in 1979. The second book, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, was published a year later and caught up to the events of the radio series. Later books in the series, Life, the Universe and Everything, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, and Mostly Harmless, went beyond the radio show. A sixth book, And Another Thing…, written after Adams’ death by Eoin Colfer with the approval of the Adams estate, wrapped up the series and attempted to soften the unpopular conclusion of Mostly Harmless, a move that Adams seemed to support in his final years.

The radio show (and thus the first two novels) were adapted into a faithful but bargain-budget TV miniseries in 1981. A far glossier, but far less faithful and far less interesting, Hollywood film adaptation followed in 2005.

Honestly, there are few works of literature as foundational to my core being as this series and Douglas Adams remains one of my heroes. So this is the part of the article where I raise an eyebrow and express skepticism that anyone, let alone two American creators, can do justice to his distinct and distinctly English sense of humor, especially since so much of the pleasure of reading Adams comes from his off-topic observations and hilarious commentary, not necessarily his plotting. Still, if this gets a new generation interested in some of the funniest books ever written, I certainly won’t complain.

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