I've never really known quite how I feel about "The Hitchhiker". It's a reasonable episode, I suppose, but – being only the second produced episode of the series, after "Billionaire Body Club" – part of me feels that the series was still finding it's feet (sadly, it would be cancelled just as it was starting to).
The "body-hopping possession" plotline is one well worn in various sci-fi TV shows and movies over the years. As such, "The Hitchhiker", while not being too bad, doesn't really offer up anything new on this front, and thus is not as creative as some of the show's other episodes.
The whole mystery regarding the alien crash-landing on Earth is fairly well handled, especially for a fledgling series only on its second episode, but maybe still could have been fleshed out more.
Those are the minus points, but "The Hitchhiker" still offers up a reasonable story. It has a nice air of mystery, and there are some good action moments. However, the story felt to go a bit limp later on, and my interest started to waver a bit.
There's definitely a decent story in there, but part of me can't help but feel that "The Hitchhiker" might have fared slightly better if they had tackled it a few episodes further in; seeing Highway – a character we've only properly met (other than in the very different Pilot) the previous week – might not be as gripping here as it might have been.
This episode also offers up one of the few real insights we ever get about the organisation that the Highwaymen work for – they use being a security trucking company as a cover for their secret Government work.
When the series was shown late at night by various ITV regions here in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s, my father originally recorded the episodes, but not "to keep"(!), and so few survived (as covered on my review for the Pilot, "Terror on the Blacktop"). However, "The Hitchhiker" was one that somehow survived being recorded over (for some reason, my local region, London Weekend Television, broadcast this one a year or so after the other episodes). As a youngster, this one always stuck in my mind for featuring Joe Regalbuto, from another short-lived favourite of mine as a boy, 'Street Hawk'.
Not really sure how to sum this one up. It's fair enough in its own right, but not one of my absolute favourites of the show's short run. It starts off strong, but I feel gets a bit repetitive later on (okay... alien jumps from one body... to another... to another... we get it!!). It's a fun story to watch, but doesn't have me coming to it as often as some of the others from the run. Summing up the pros and cons, I give this episode a fair but not outstanding 8.0.