The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, episode three

It’s one of those weird little quirks of television that I’m not at all familiar with anything else that the four lead actors in Hitchhiker’s Guide did, but the guest cast is peppered with terrific performances from people that I do know. Slartibartfast is played by Richard Vernon, one of those character actors who’s usually called “the distinguished,” and I’ve seen him in dozens of things. This episode takes our heroes to the legendary planet Magarathea, where Zaphod believes that the amassed wealth of the pre-collapse galactic economy can be pilfered. But this world’s business is waking up after a five million year slumber and Slartibartfast is one of the planet-builders who may be tasked in literally creating a new Earth.

Okay, I lie, I remember Sandra Dickinson – and her then-husband Peter Davison – in that godawful Tomorrow People story they did, but nothing else.

The kid giggled and laughed all the way through this episode again. Marvin stole the show once more, grumbling and complaining about everything he can imagine, and since he’s 50,000 times smarter than you, that’s a lot. The animated sections were his favorite, though. Since he heard the book already, it was of course like waiting for well-worn jokes to be told anew, but he howled over the bowl of petunias giving their sad final words, and the dolphins leaving the planet with their own final words, “So long and thanks for all the fish.” Remember the 2008 Doctor Who story “The Stolen Earth,” where the bees left our planet for a better place? I really think it’s a tip of the hat to this.

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