The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Comparison 1981/2005 Part 10 :: HUMOUR
Surprisingly, the humour is actually what I didn’t like about the books, the show, and the radio programme when I was first introduced to it all. Crazy, right? But now that’s obviously why I love it so much now.
As far as the original comedy-factor is concerned, the tv series is better than the film. It kind of just chugs along and that’s what’s funny about it, whereas the film almost tries to be funny. So the more I watch the film, the less funny certain parts get and the more I watch the tv series the funnier it gets. Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion. There is a kind of snarky wisdom that drives the tv series. It just rings true for me. Also, the series was a product of its time. There is a kind of contempt for bureaucracy and the gross materialism of the early 1980s that is quite profound. Add Adam’s genius for philosophizing and logic and you’ve got something of an (to use one of least my favourite terms) existentialist comic masterpiece about the futility of mankind in the face of its own stupidity.
Although the series is not dated in terms of humour, it is rooted in the fundamentals of that decade and so the angst doesn’t translate in the 2005 film; it doesn’t have the same impact. Instead, the film focuses more on the personal angst of the characters which was (and still is) elemental in our ego-centric 2000s. The writing is mostly the same but the meaning is coming from a different angle.
The film is geared to a world-wide audience, which I feel takes a dent out of the unique British humour. Yet, it translated relatively well considering. I think the film only suffered comically because it came off insincere at times. (The emotional stuff was much more convincing.) It seemed they went with more of the visual and physical humour. Which is fine, but when Adams wrote the radio show/books by nature are word-centric.
I seriously get a charge out of both adaptations, but in this comparison, I have to go with the tv series as being not only my favourite, but better in terms of keeping Adams original erudite comic tone.
I’ll cover the subject of romance next week…