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DVD Review: The Hitchhiker – Volume 3

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The vague memory I have of The Hitchhiker was seeing a guy with his thumb out carrying a backpack, looking as if he’d stepped out of a perfume commercial. After those opening credits, I couldn’t tell you an episode or a scene the way I could with The Twilight Zone,which seems to have inspired this show. Having seen the third volume collection, I’m not sure anyone would take an interest past the credits.

The series is very much like Zone – it has a low budget, moody atmosphere and a central narrator who gives the intro and outro to each episode. What separated it from the former was the fact that it had more freedom to be insane due to the fact it was on HBO (at least for the first few seasons). Although this series has more adult themes than The Twilight Zone, the tales that Page Fletcher (who is The Hitchhiker) introduced were too pedestrian for me.

Some episodes get some life into their utterly dull scripts by the performers they attract. Ken Olin and Parker Stevenson make a gem out of “Best Shot,” in which two friends bet that one could film something cooler than the other. Bill Paxton goes into full hillbilly mode with “Made For Each Other,” which tells the tale of a serial killer who befriends a quiet eccentric who has a notion for poisonous potions. Lauren Hutton plays a vamp seductress who has some rather bizarre dreams in “Riding The Nightmare”.

There are no special features and I can imagine this volume set wouldn’t inspire any behind-the-scenes insight from anyone who worked on the show. You do get to see subtitles of these episodes in three different languages – English, Spanish, and French. One thing they don’t squeeze somewhere into the packaging is which season the episodes are from.

Some of the episodes in the set have a much tamer feel to them. This is essentially because the show shut down production for a couple of years after it was canned at HBO (where it originally started). It resurfaced again in 1989 on USA with less sex and much less violence than in its previous seasons.

Another thing that’s bothersome to me is the stupid lime green (or gray) tinting they put on the cover art for the DVD. Why not use the actual desert background from the show’s opening credits? You can actually see Page Fletcher and even the damn title of the show. What stands now looks like it was made from a computer that had been locked in a nuclear waste dump.

One question burns in my head – where in the hell was Page Fletcher walking to?

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