"Life? Don't talk to me about life..."

h2g2 The first thing which strikes anyone listing to the new Tertiary Phase of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the continuity of characterisation after all these years. Any actor returning to a part twenty years after they last played them would be forgiven for sounding, wrong or forced to some extent. But from Simon Jones as Arthur waking in a cave through Stephen Moore's Marvin desperation at being harranged by a mattress and stuck in the mud it's as though Douglas had returned a year later to put this together. The only obvious loss is Peter Jones as The Book, although William Franklyn is a perfect replacement bringing a slight different vibe to the guide which is still hilariously incongruous.

As an adaptation the series has its work cut out. It's source, Life, The Universe and Everything was not Adam's favourite. Based on material from a Doctor Who film script which never got off the ground, he rewrote most of it once because it was too dark. It's also quite plot driven, so it's quite a surprise that the first episode takes its time re-introducing the characters and what they've been up to. There are also some cunning digressions -- five minutes are spent on a character who doesn't appear again. But even for someone who's read the book a couple of times there were many hilarious moments. It's a rewrite but the sensibility is all present and correct. It's a homage but perfectly so. Well done to Dirk Maggs and everyone at Above the Title for creating what so far is a worthy successor.

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