I can also see why he fast-forwarded over the parts in the Shire, although I do miss the night at Farmer Maggot's house, just because I've had that experience of becoming friends as an adult with somebody you were terrified of as a kid. The meeting with Gildor is nice and has some great lines ("Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." "Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes!") but doesn't really hurt to leave out. On the other hand, Merry and Pippin having planned to come with Frodo all along does make more sense than "*crash!* Oh, hi Frodo, let's tag along on a deadly quest to the far side of the continent!"
It's interesting; when I saw the scene at Bucklebury Ferry in the theaters, I remember thinking that was pretty much how it happened in the book, with Frodo jumping to the boat and everything, and that it was neat that it made it in. But no, in the book they're already well out on the river when the ringwraith shows up. Wonder what I was thinking of?