THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY: QUINTESSENTIAL PHASE / LABEL: DEMON MUSIC GROUP / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
After four series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, one would assume that the fifth would have little to offer, as the previous installment, The Quandary Phase, had covered pretty much what was left of the series and there wasn’t much of the final Douglas Adams-penned Mostly Harmless to get through - certainly not enough for four full episodes, given its rather slim page count.
Surprise surprise, then, when The Quintessential Phase turns out to be so gloriously wonderful. Trillian and Tricia McMillan meet, Fenchurch reappears, there’s rollicking interdimensional travel, and it’s as if the folks who had been making this series for nearly 30 years got a late-era infusion of pep pills.
The way in which the episodes integrate the Guide itself is a big part of the verve and renewed enthusiasm which comes through in all four “fits” of The Quintessential Phase. The Guide is in the process of being updated as part of the radio show’s plot, and the delays, updates, and glitches all come through and delay the episodes. It’s quite brilliant and makes the program feel like it’s all interconnected, and the changes in space-time, dimensional issues, and whatnot are actually being experienced by the listener themselves.
As with previous installments, the set comes as a bound hardcover book, with silver foil embossed lettering on the cover. The vinyl is pressed to heavyweight pink wax. The liners feature a ton of behind the scenes photos, and that might be the most intriguing portion of everything. The guide entries are greater in number as well, and there’s the usual making-of essay which is pretty much de rigeur at this point, but those photos of everyone involved really do a fine job of showing off all the folks who’ve put their time into making this beloved series. It’s touching - like a family, really.