In a manner befitting someone with limited time and even more limited time management skills, I have somewhat rashly decided to throw my Towel Day posts in with a Towel Day Blogfest which centres itself here. So, on with the second Towel Day run-up review: somewhat predictably, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Secondary Phase (Special Edition).
I was introduced to Hitchhiker’s through the TV series, and then the novels, but the first time I heard the original radio series (on a mid-90s repeat airing) I knew I was experiencing something special. Radio was the medium Hitchhikers was created for and, somehow, it shows. The Secondary Phase in particular remains my favourite part of the canon, largely due to the fact that it goes off at such a tangent from the storyline of the novels. (Of course, that could be said of the movie, but that had the opposite effect.)
Admittedly, some of the stuff that didn’t make it into the novels wasn’t that good; it seems as if Douglas Adams was a melting pot of ideas, some good, some rubbish, and he was notoriously bad with deadlines, so inevitably some rubbish ideas made it into those episodes that were written on the day of broadcast… However, Secondary Phase contains more than its share of staggering genious: most notably the Total Perspective Vortex, but also gave the world swear word too rude to blog legibly (Belgium), some rather ahead of its time commentary on human cloning, and introduces the actual Ruler of the Universe.
The differences between the Special Edition and my creaky old cassette version are largely unnoticable, or they were to me anyway, with the exception of the new intro and outro. According to the sleeve notes, however, the original recordings we all know and love have been running half a semitone sharp, which is technobabble for ‘Arthur Dent’s voice sounded too high and the remastered programs are up to a minute longer than they used to be’.
Bonus material is an interview with the author – interesting, but not as fun as the Primary Phase bonus disc – which previously appeared in the Collector’s Edition box set.
Anyone who enjoys Hitchhiker’s but hasn’t heard Secondary Phase should do so immediately. Anyone who already has a copy of Secondary Phase on CD just needs to decide how much they want another radio interview with DNA…