The Hitch Hiker: Radio You Can See…
...Which of course begs the question, "Why bother?" But Mind City Productions decided that an animated version of Welles' Mercury Summer Theater broadcast of Lucille Fletcher's radio classic "The Hitch Hiker" was needed, and so we're here to provide a look at it. First off, the disc appears to be a DVD-R, and two of the three DVD players in my house wouldn't even recognize it as a disc. Not a good start.
This release was discussed on the Wellesnet message board, and as I mentioned above, the main question was why would someone do this? Radio exists as a valid dramatic medium in and of itself; those too lazy or mentally impoverished to actually imagine the story being told don't necessarily deserve to have it animated for them. Mind City have provided a literal animation of the events as told by Welles, narrating as Ronald Adams. The animation itself is mediocre at best; if you've seen video game cut scenes on the Playstation 2, that's about what this looks like, just not quite as smooth. At times, you can see where a character's programmed movements reset to their starting point, which is rather jarring, needless to say. The characters too often move like they're underwater, destroying any sense of realism, and the facial movement of Adams rarely changes; you'd think he was on heavy sedation if you didn't have the soundtrack to go by. The color scheme of purple and grey is attractive enough, but that's about all I can say for the visual look of the piece. In the end, I felt it didn't do much more than dilute the power of the original story; after all, Welles' potent narration is certainly good enough to carry the story without literal visual interpretation.
But wait, there's more! Begging the question of legality (as if the DVD-R wasn't enough), there are some bonus features. The "Mercury Theater Remembered" feature from the "Theater of the Imagination" release is stuck on here, as is the Suspense broadcast of "The Hitch Hiker." Finally, the infamous Welles outtake from the fish sticks commercial gone bad is here, animated as if it were Welles working on it, but looking like the animated Ronald Adams. Huh? It's not improved by adding animation, and let's leave it at that.
I guess this project was made with the intention of doing something unique, but it's all rather pointless. Add to that some basic errors (Lucille Fletcher's name misspelled on the cover, the company's web site describing the show as from the 1930s, when even basic research would show the broadcast date as being in 1946), and it's hard to find much to like here. Perhaps the best thing I can say about it is that it's relatively cheap.