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David Learner - the stage & TV Marvin reviews HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY!

Hey folks, Harry here... kinda had to let this go out on the site. Enjoy...

Hi guys  

Here's a few words for your website.  If you've had an email from Annabel you'll know I played Marvin on 2 national tours and the Rainbow Theatre in 1980 plus the telly version and then finally at the opening of the Drum Theatre, Plymouth in 1982.  

Best of luck .. the movie's fantastic.  I'm lost for words.  

In early 1980 Robin Thornber, reviewing the national tour of Hitch Hiker in The Guardian said that Marvin was the most compassionate character on stage because he was the most human.  There was something of Marvin in all of us.  He was right, as he was right about so many things.  I guess that’s what makes a good theatre critic, the ability to polish this mirror we hold up to reality and say, “Do you have any idea what you look like?”  

I’m rambling already and I haven’t even started.  I want to say that everything that’s spun off before to orbit round Hitch Hiker – the radio version, the stage shows, the telly, the “making of” video, the towels, the computer game, the fans, the zylbatburgers, the gargleblasters – everything has been a tribute to this extraordinary myth called Douglas.  How wrong I was.  

I seriously believe that the movie has got pretty damn close to what Douglas had in mind.  I’m sorry.  I seriously believe that nothing now will come closer to what Douglas had in mind.  We don’t know of course what he did have in mind, but at least he was sort of there in the last few moments, wasn’t he?  What’s your favourite Disney movie?  Mine’s “The Jungle Book.”  Why?  Because you can see Disney’s hand: it was the last movie he was involved with, on a personal level.  In the Hitchhiker movie (somehow the name got elided) you can hear Douglas’ voice.  And it’s that voice that makes me want to sob and be angry and shout at him for not being there.  

The final arresting image is of Douglas, and in a miracle of timing the words “for Douglas” appear on the screen.  They will haunt me.  He haunts me now, even as I write this article.  His presence leaks through the film like water out of an unstopped tap.  Resistance is useless.  He offered so much, so many phrases, shrugs and idols that we take for granted.  None of it would have been there without the fantasies of a man who liked eating.  

So on what levels does the movie work?  Level 42 … see what I mean … the Kumars at No 42 … it’s all him.  None of it would be there without him.  

It starts with the yellow bulldozer, well a heck of a lot of them actually.  Oh I don’t want to tell the story again.  How long did I tour it?  How many times did I trudge on stage and say “I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed?” I lost count.  How did I get to do the telly version?  Because Douglas wanted me to.  Why does this movie work?  That’s why you’re reading this, I suppose.  

The movie works because watching the movie is like looking at Douglas.  You’re seeing essence of Douglas.  Perhaps instead of thinking about the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in that campsite in Innsbruck he should have turned over and gone to sleep.  If he’d never put pen to paper the brilliance would have stayed in his mind and all those spin offs would never have happened.  

And we’d still have Douglas.  


Readers Talkback
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  • April 18, 2005, 3:23 p.m. CST

    by Tony fucknuts

    Read "Last Chance to see.." Its great.

  • April 18, 2005, 3:33 p.m. CST


    by Pan Demonium

    Well, it's great to hear that the movie's fantastic, but... I'm not really sure what this writer's point is... I guess the emotions about Douglas Adams made it impossible to write a review that made sense... Pan out.

  • April 18, 2005, 3:33 p.m. CST


    by SerpentineShelly

    Well said (if rambly)

  • April 18, 2005, 3:37 p.m. CST

    Nice words, this is shaping up nicely

    by aylward

    That's great to hear someone so intimately involved with Hitchikers over the years say something positive. Gives me hope this will be a great film. THAT'S what I want to see: the spirit of Douglas shining through in the film. I hope it's funny, entertaining, thrilling, silly(in the way only Douglas could be) and most of all I hope this film reaches a larger audience who will be nudged into picking up the sequel books and discovering more of Douglas's genius. Roll on April 29th! Anyone still having doubts?

  • April 18, 2005, 3:51 p.m. CST

    "Do you get along well with other robots?" "Hate them."

    by Tall_Boy

    Marvin rules.

  • April 18, 2005, 3:53 p.m. CST

    "Now the world has gone to bed, Darkness won't engulf my head, I

    by Tall_Boy

    "Now I lay me down to sleep, Try to count electric sheep, Sweet dream wishes you can keep, How I hate the night." Once again, Marvin RULES!

  • April 18, 2005, 4:07 p.m. CST

    See? MJ Simpson's review was BULLSHIT.

    by ZeroCorpse

    There's a difference between people who knew Douglas, and people who obsessed about his works. MJ Simpson is an obsessed fanboy who didn't get to work on the movie, despite being acknowledged as one of the most complete sources for HHGTTG trivia and knowledge. The problem is that MJ Simpson knows the details, but he apparently doesn't know the heart. He obsesses about the little things, like a Trekkie (not Trekker, but Trekkie. There's a difference) but totally misses the feeling of the movie because he's upset that he wasn't called in to ensure that the minute set pieces and bits of dialogue were in place. MJ Simpson's review was jealousy and spite spilling out onto the page, and it turned my stomach to see someone who supposedly loves this series pick it apart like a jealous lover would a potential rival. Sour grapes is all it was.

  • April 18, 2005, 4:35 p.m. CST

    EP III - Return of teh Suck

    by MinasTirithII

    No doubt this movie will be better than EpIII, we all know the story is so much better.

  • April 18, 2005, 4:39 p.m. CST

    Why the hell did Star Wars enter the discussion? Shut up, before

    by scrumdiddly

  • April 18, 2005, 4:41 p.m. CST

    "this site is plumbing new depths of uselessness."

    by Hamish

    No, your posts achieve that quite nicely.

  • April 18, 2005, 4:56 p.m. CST

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

    by SpyGuy

    Yes, Marvin definitely rules...and rules with a manic-depressive fist!

  • April 18, 2005, 5 p.m. CST

    Share and Enjoy

    by darth_billy

    "Share and Enjoy, Share and Enjoy, Journey through life With a plastic boy Or Girl by your side, Let your pal be your guide, And when it breaks down Or starts to annoy, Or grinds when it moves And gives you no joy, Cos it's eaten your hat, Or had sex with your cat, Bled oil on your floor, Or ripped off your door, You get to the point, You can't stand any more, Bring it to us, we won't give a fig, We'll tell you, ...... 'Go stick your head in a pig'"...Utterly Brilliant!! Douglas Adams was a genius!!!!

  • April 18, 2005, 5:01 p.m. CST

    sob story

    by readyoufool

    that article sounds just like a drunk call at 3am after a bad break up. there are only tiny pieces of actual sense in there and the rest is either information that is beside the point and/or exageration of emotion. That said, i can't wait for april 29th.

  • April 18, 2005, 5:04 p.m. CST


    by Purgatori

    Now I'm wanting to cry. And I know I will at the end of the movie if this stuff is going on. I knew they'd do it, but it sounds like it's going to be even more knife twistingly sad. Much like The Crow. Marvin will always rule.

  • April 18, 2005, 5:06 p.m. CST

    non related waffle.

    by HermanatorX

    Ive been trying to get a talkback ID for months now, and no joy. Then today I pick up King Kong original DVD, and as if by magic I get a talkback ID the same day. Spooky. Harry is watching us. everywhere.....

  • April 18, 2005, 5:33 p.m. CST

    I think it was meant as a reassurance.

    by 800Bullets

    This guy is obviously a fan no matter what happens but it was nice to hear the obviously stoned person espouse why we need not worry and will certainly enjoy ourselves. That said, why did they hide Zaphod's extra head and extra arm?

  • April 18, 2005, 5:37 p.m. CST

    Don't ban the "firsters"!!!

    by zacdilone

    How else will I ever maintain my required daily allowance of false superiority?

  • April 18, 2005, 5:53 p.m. CST

    I think the idea that this will be

    by InspectorDoppler

    But I'll be there.

  • April 18, 2005, 6:10 p.m. CST

    MJ quits

    by FTEzebra

    WOW. What a pansy. Oh wait, was that "unwarranted, ill-informed personal abuse and libel"? I'm sorry, but to close a huge fan website because some people disagreed with you (however personally) is pathetic. Good riddance.

  • April 18, 2005, 6:13 p.m. CST


    by BurlIvesLeftNut

    That was awesome. I have never read this book, but the movie looks unbelievably fun. Can't wait.

  • April 18, 2005, 6:34 p.m. CST

    You know who would make an interesting Marvin?

    by rev_skarekroe

    Jackie Mason. Seriously, try it.

  • April 18, 2005, 6:42 p.m. CST

    MJ Simpson needs to get over himself.

    by BEARison Ford

    If he seriously thought he wouldn't have to weather a shitstorm cos of that INSANELY creepy review, he's fucking crazy.

  • April 18, 2005, 7:09 p.m. CST

    I hear MJ Simpson might be a "firster"

    by BurlIvesLeftNut

    What is it we do with that kind now a days? We're limited now that congress got all involved up in our shit, right?

  • April 18, 2005, 7:21 p.m. CST

    Don't be a prat, wolf at the door

    by Z_B_Brox

    First off, your comparison is inept. Marvin is an integral character to HHGG, and the man in question played him in one of the most popular forms the series took, and clearly knew Adams well. His opinion is of itnerest to anyone who follows the series. Second, the review gave a great assurance that the most important aspect of HHGG, Adams's unique voice, has been used to full advantage. There's no need for you to be a pissy bitch just because you're not interested.

  • April 18, 2005, 7:39 p.m. CST

    MJ Simpson...

    by Pan Demonium

  • April 18, 2005, 7:45 p.m. CST

    not Trekker, but Trekkie. There's a difference

    by Psychonaut

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  • April 18, 2005, 7:45 p.m. CST

    The new paperback book contains a long back section about the ma

    by HanFiredFirst

    Might be worth a look for those interested in the decisions made in bringing Hitchhiker to the screen.

  • April 18, 2005, 7:52 p.m. CST

    MJ Simpson...

    by Pan Demonium

    I just went back and checked out the review that people keep mentioning (I missed it the first time around) and I feel a little less optimistic now... mainly because I totally agree with Simpson that the real genius of the Hitchhiker books isn't about plot, character, or dialog as much as it is about language... Adams had a beautiful, absurd, poetic way with words that I hope has been left as intact as possible in this script... If they have fucked this up as much as Simpson indicates, it will be "the equivalent of walking up to a human being and saying 'Blood...blood...blood...blood...'" ...Pan out.

  • April 18, 2005, 7:56 p.m. CST

    Wold at the Door

    by antonphd

    in the immortal words of hanson, "where's the love?" by wolf at the door 2005-04-18 18:14:21 why the hatred for folk who cry 'first'? sure, they may be simple-minded gimps but they are part of AICN tradition. indeed, they are as american as mom and apple pie. people who hate 'firsters' are probably towel-headed terrorists. I haven't laughed that hard since reading the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Dude... if you are a writer... please write a book. That was some of the most funny fucking off the wall smart ass just plain smart shit that I have read in a while. Damn. Dude. That was funny. Classic. Good job. Shit.

  • April 18, 2005, 8:14 p.m. CST

    Good to hear someone who understands the books likes the movie.

    by antonphd

    MJ's review was not unfair or sour grapes at all. I love the books and when I read MJ's review I was glad that I did; because, otherwise I would have been pretty pissed at the movie if I had not been warned. The thing about the books is that they really are a treasure of amazing imagination and philosophy and humor. The Simpons are definitely ispired by the styles of the Hitchhiker books. If you love the Simpsons you understand the fuss over these books. MJ was upset for seeing something he really loved spoiled for him. I don't expect that the movie is bad. I expect that it is really very good. It was definitly disappointing for MJ and would have been for me if he had not warned of what was missing; because, to be honest, let's face it, they left out maybe literally the best most classic parts of the books. Still... the rest of the books are more than great enough to watch the movie for. I think that that is what this reviewer above is saying. For those of us who know who he is it is very comforting to be reassured that this movie, while not being everything we wanted, is still great. Yeah, it would kick ass if they could have made it with all of the best witty parts that we love, but, I'll take what I can get. The 2nd head and the 3rd arm are hard to swallow though... they would be like seeing a Simpson movie with one of the family members having been replaced by a new character. It's pretty huge. But these books are so good that us fans are going to forgive it... you know we will. You only live once... see the glass half full at least just this once guys... this isn't hollywood fucking with a classic... this is just not the best version of this movie that we would like to see.

  • April 18, 2005, 8:39 p.m. CST

    The Planet Magrathea guy's review was pretty cogent...

    by Stan the Bat

    ...whereas this one is barely readable. My bet is that the movie will be disappointing, but will not be a clusterfuck on the scale of something like LXG. And as with Alan Moore's material, the Adams books will continue to be available to anybody who's interesteed in the genuine article.

  • April 18, 2005, 9:08 p.m. CST

    First Last Brother Beanpole Werewolf Vampire Plant

    by kidkosmic

    THGTTG is one of those rare (in my opinion) laugh out loud adventure stories--in the vein of a modern Mark Twain yarn. I've had high hopes for this flick, and Learner's comments have jacked them that much higher (though he's an obvious plant). Visit my ass kickin' Web site, or my equally worthless blog Oh, and FRIST!

  • April 18, 2005, 9:28 p.m. CST

    This movie looks cheesy, like Galaxy Quest.

    by Orionsangels

    Come on May already! Lets release Episode III, the only summer movie worth seeing this year. Hitchhiker blew it with the lame casting.

  • April 18, 2005, 9:35 p.m. CST

    Good point about an Ewok guy reviewing ROTS.

    by AlwaysThere

    Revenge of the Sith is all that matters. Forget everything else.

  • April 18, 2005, 9:51 p.m. CST

    Galaxy Quest

    by zacdilone

    If it wasn't for Galaxy Quest's success, HHGTTG wouldn't have been made. I love Galaxy Quest in all of its cheesiness. "This episode was badly written!"

  • April 18, 2005, 10:24 p.m. CST

    I'd just like to say...

    by darkmagedtm

    That this is the first time I've been on television.

  • April 18, 2005, 10:53 p.m. CST

    Star Wars

    by Veraxus

    ...because I had to :)

  • April 18, 2005, 11:17 p.m. CST

    The Rock To Play He-Man?

    by Drworm2002

    I know this has nothing to do with HHGTG. But I saw it and thought it was cool...if it's true. I mean wow...

  • April 18, 2005, 11:19 p.m. CST

    Hugh Jackman is secretly in Sydney filming a role as Jonathan Ke

    by Drworm2002

    Just what I heard.

  • April 18, 2005, 11:50 p.m. CST


    by Thes

    Secretly in Sydney? Perhaps he's just home for a bit? As to HHGTTG - this review, while a shambles of poor grammar and punctuation, gives me heart. C'mon April 28th (yes, we get it a day early in Australia. Gotta love that!)

  • April 18, 2005, 11:54 p.m. CST

    "Revenge of the Sith is all that matters"

    by Right Bastard

    Aren't you one of the bitches who complains when people post "OT" in ROTS talkbacks? Oh, and nu-SW fans are, oh, so lame (this story never gets old):

  • April 18, 2005, 11:57 p.m. CST

    Speaking of STAR WARS, want to see the opening flyby shot from S

    by Triumph poops!

    Go to and check out today's Star Wars news -- in particular the 2 German TV links interviewing ILM guys. The first clip has the whole extended shot of Obi Wan and Anakin zipping into battle and darting about, the camera tracking with them the whole time. IT KICKS ASS EVERY WAY IMAGINABLE! MAY 19th CAN'T GET HERE FAST ENOUGH!!!

  • April 19, 2005, 12:24 a.m. CST

    Bad move Simpson...

    by Anlashok

    You should have stuck to your guns, posted a hyperlink leading to a huge middle finger for the personal attackers. However this trend of digging up "heavy hitter" reviews is quite amusing. Perhaps we can get contradictory reviews from Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden regarding the new "bewitched"?

  • April 19, 2005, 12:36 a.m. CST

    DNA's voice..

    by Karmakin

    It's interesting. This review kinda confirms my expectations for the movie going in. Why? Because if you've read all of his works, there's this definate evolution. From world-weary cynic to wide-eyed wanderer. And my feeling about the movie is that there's quite a bit less of the cynic, and quite a bit more of the wanderer in there. And that's not necessarly a bad thing, it's just different, that's all. But to remove the wanderer in there is to but the genie back in the bottle and that just never works too well.

  • April 19, 2005, 12:50 a.m. CST

    Bah all you SW hater can ride a Boga for all I care

    by Orionsangels

  • April 19, 2005, 8:02 a.m. CST

    Sounds like a 3:00 am drunk call? In vino veritas, my friend.

    by Dr. Sid Schaefer

    This "review" did make me feel better after reading the Planet Magrathea diatribe. Oh, and to the poster who said "It sounds cheesy, like Galaxy Quest," well, Galaxy Quest ROCKED. Best bit: Sigourney Weaver clearly saying "Fuck that!" and having "Screw that!" dubbed in instead. Plus you've got Rockwell and Rickman. Genius.

  • April 19, 2005, 8:07 a.m. CST


    by Big_Bubbaloola

    ...and while i'm at it: MJ SIMPSON = PUSSY, WIMP, YELLOW BELLY etc etc. Now he was entitled to his own opinion and all, but to throw his toys otta the pram like mean thats just......just......well i'm lost for words. What a spoilt brat!!!

  • April 19, 2005, 9:23 a.m. CST

    Am I the only one pissed at the TV spots?

    by rockgolf

    If I had never heard of H2G2 before seeing these spots, I'd have not the slightest hint that the movie was a comedy. They are making it look like some third-rate kiddie actioner. A cheap Star Wars rip-off. A knuckledragger's dream. Wanna bet half the audience (assuming from these abysmal ads that they draw an audience) won't even figure out that it is a comedy for the first half hour. Why are they doing this? It's tantamount to false advertising!!!!!

  • April 19, 2005, 11:19 a.m. CST

    Wolfy, let's be serious

    by Z_B_Brox

    The fact that this review rambled a bit didn't make it meaningless. If you found it so difficult to understand, so be it, that's unfortunate, but the man's credentials and the message he conveyed were both clear. You don't seem to have a problem with them posting reviews from anyone who e-mails claiming to have seen a movie early, but when they get someone who was intimately connected to the material you start pissing because of run-on sentences. Give it a rest.

  • April 19, 2005, 11:21 a.m. CST

    On another note...

    by Z_B_Brox

    No, you're not the only one annoyed by the TV spots for this thing. They're making it look like, say, the Fifth Element rather than like, say, The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I just hope that doesn't lead to a collosal flop as audiences find themselves annoyed by the bait-and-switch. Psychologically speaking, an audience expecting to laugh will laugh more, and an audience on guard because it feels mislead will laugh less. I think this is a serious mistake on the studio's part.

  • April 19, 2005, 12:24 p.m. CST


    by scrumdiddly

  • April 19, 2005, 1:01 p.m. CST

    Reminds me of...

    by MJAYACE

    A modern day ICE PIRATES. Anybody remember that cult lame-o from the 80's. Coolest thing about that was the Amazons that the fat, headless dude had working for him. Seriously, HITCHIKER looks okay, but I think it will do lousy because there is only medium interest in it, and moderate publicity.

  • April 19, 2005, 1:33 p.m. CST

    I don't give a rat's ass

    by Dick Fitzwell

    what anybody says. I can't wait to see this flick. I will make up my own mind on whether or not I like it after I see it.

  • April 19, 2005, 7:46 p.m. CST

    wolfy, stop being so bitter. It's OK, the movie will be out soo

    by minderbinder

    Although I can see you need no excuse to continue the snide remarks about americans. Well done.

  • April 20, 2005, 2:48 p.m. CST


    by blotter

  • April 21, 2005, 9:19 a.m. CST

    Now now

    by Ed Wood would

    I profoundly hope that I'll disagree with MJ Simpson's review upon seeing the film for myself, but if indeed, many of Adams' original lines have been cut I suspect that I'll be fairly disappointed too. (Imagine a film adaptation of Blackadder 2/3/4 with a drastically reduced script!). However, we can all speculate and agree or disagree with reviews for a film we haven't yet seen, or take a deep breath, see the film upon release and have an informed debate about it's merits, compromises, compensations etc? Then, get on with insulting each other from a safe distance.. Come next weekend I'll decide whether to overreact with trouser wetting anbandon or find a nice busy commuter line to throw myself on...(Kidding.) I'm not suggesting that speculation isn't fun, but wouldn't it be refreshing if it didn't turn into a Trisha-esque handbag fight every 5 minutes? Ha!, that's my pompous sermonising quota filled for today...

  • April 21, 2005, 12:37 p.m. CST

    For fans of the original radio cast... The first episode of

    by Ed Wouldn't

    You'll probably already know this, so apologies for preaching to the converted but...turn the dial to Radio 4! "The first episode of The Quandary Phase of the Hitchhiker's Guide will be broadcast on 3 May." (Based on 'So long and thanks for all the fish).

  • there are several references to 42 in the story, as well as other Carroll works, something which Admas was no doubt aware of.... credit where credit's due! :)

  • April 26, 2005, 6:47 a.m. CST

    Re: 42

    by Ed Wouldn't

    Yep, no doubt. As well as a literary in-joke, I look at it as a complimentary reference, which for those who recognise it, is credit in itself I guess. Anyway, most great works are in some way indebted to what went before. For example, Douglas Adams worked with Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame, and has a writing credit in one episode. Monty Python, genius as it often was, is a natural decendant of comedy such as The Goon Show (particularly Spike Milligan's writing) and Peter Cook (The first 'Not only...' sketch was about a man who'd dedicated his life to teaching ravens to swim underwater for example...without much success obviously). Sorry, I went off at quite a tengent there...

  • May 1, 2005, 4:20 a.m. CST


    by heavyrock

    If I may interject; I'd like to point out that each individual will have a different opinon based on their experiences with the writer's works, and a balanced opinion generally does not include mention of 'Towel-Headed Terrorists' which it would seem only occurs with residents of the USA. Probably because they swallowed all that propaganda about Bin Laden et al promulgated by the spin doctors of the Bash (oops) administration. Might I suggest that y'all confine yourselves to the discussion at hand without imposing your regional biases? Oh yeah, I am not a yank, and I thought 9.11 was a brilliant move on Bash's part. Another 4 years because of the scary terrorists, great. F*ng wonderful as far as the rest of the world is concerned. It's not the mice that are in control.