'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' Is Coming to Hulu

The Babel fish is just one example of the incredible imagination of Douglas Adams.
The Babel fish is just one example of the incredible imagination of Douglas Adams. (Image credit: BBC)

Douglas Adams' sci-fi comedy classic "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is being adapted into a new TV series for Hulu. 

The streaming service is developing an adaptation of the radio drama and novel series with producer Carlton Cuse ("Lost") and writer Jason Fuchs ("Wonder Woman"), Deadline reports. 

If you don’t know what "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is, here’s an excerpt from the novel that might help explain:

"The 'Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy' is a wholly remarkable book … In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, it has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.First, it is slightly cheaper and secondly it has the words DON'T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover."

The series includes six novels  — five by Adams and one byEoin Colfer, after Adams  died in 2001. Adams said he came up with the idea for the title of the beloved series while he lay drunk in a field in Innsbruck, Austria, gazing up at the stars. He was carrying a copy of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe," and it occurred to him that "somebody ought to write a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

The story follows Arthur Dent, a mild-mannered man from London who is rescued from Earth by his best friend, Ford Prefect, moments before the planet is destroyed to make way for a new intergalactic bypass through hyperspace. They stow away on one of the ships that destroys Earth and share a series of adventures spanning time and space as they are seemingly tossed from one crisis to another. 

The series began as a radio play on the BBC (you can listen to the entire series on Archive.org) in 1978. It was later fleshed out into the first novel, which was published a year later. The second book, titled "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe," was released in 1980. The BBC also aired a miniseries in 1981 that linked the first two books. 

Ford Prefect (left), played by David Dixon and Arthur Dent, portrayed by Simon Jones, in the 1981 BBC miniseries. (Image credit: BBC)

But these books and movies didn't garner much attention. Adams went on to write three more novels, the last of which was "Mostly Harmless," in 1992.  In 2005, Touchstone Pictures brought the classic story to the silver screen in a big-budget movie starring Martin Freeman (as Arthur Dent), Mos Def (as Ford Prefect), Stephen Fry (as the voice of The Guide) and Sam Rockwell (as Zaphod Beeblebrox). However, the film wasn't terribly successful at the box office, and some fans said the new interpretation did not accurately represent the original story.

With the announcement of this new Hulu series, fans are tweeting about their concerns about the so-called Americanization of what is quintessentially very British humor in the original series. Fans have referenced the backlash faced when a similar effort was made to directly transpose the hit British sci-fi comedy "Red Dwarf" for an American audience.

According to Deadline, the new Hulu series will be a "modern updating of the classic story." Disney, in addition to being a majority stakeholder in Hulu, owns Touchstone Pictures, the studio behind the 2005 movie. References to "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" can be found across pop culture, and the books are considered essential reading for every English teenager. SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk even referenced the series when he launched his Tesla into space in February 2018, as the car's dashboard was adorned with a sticker that read "Don't Panic."

Follow Scott Snowden on Twitter. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Scott Snowden

When Scott's application to the NASA astronaut training program was turned down, he was naturally upset...as any 6-year-old boy would be. He chose instead to write as much as he possibly could about science, technology and space exploration. He graduated from The University of Coventry and received his training on Fleet Street in London. He still hopes to be the first journalist in space.