Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
BBC America, Saturdays 9/8 Central
Oct 21, 2016 Web Exclusive
British author Douglas Adams' more well known hilarious sci-fi epic, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, has had its fair share of adaptations in television, radio, and film, although none of them lived up to the expectations set by the novel. This incarnation of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency does its source material justice by foregoing a straightforward adaptation for a new story that dutifully emulates Adams' style.
This incarnation of Dirk Gently stars Samuel Barnett (Penny Dreadful) as the titular detective and Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings, Wilfred) as his reluctant assistant, Todd. In fact, the story unfolds mostly from Todd's perspective, a broke musician who spent his last penny helping out his sister. Gently finds Todd after breaking into his apartment, and insists he will help him solve his current case.
BBC has already made a name for itself with weird, fantastic mystery shows, so the bar is already set pretty high by Doctor Who and Sherlock. Fitting, since the character is a spiritual mashup of those two. In fact, Adams came up with the character while writing for Doctor Who during Tom Baker's run, and there is a lot of character overlap between Dirk and the Time Lord, as well as Hitchhiker's Guide's alien traveler Ford Prefect. Elijah Wood's character isn't far removed from his lead on the sitcom Wilfred; both characters are anxiety-ridden, down on their luck guys suddenly forced to deal with an unexpected, absurd friendship. But Wood is playing to his strengths; emotionally complex, clever, and slightly disturbed. He is a great foil to Barnett's aloof detective, driving the plot through random accidents, while Todd grapples with the consequences.
Max Landis (Chronicle, Superman: American Alien) is serving as the creative mind behind Dirk, both as screenwriter and executive producer. Landis brings a competency and devotion to the spirit of the novels, and the result seamlessly balances dark, whimsical fantasy with a dry wit, although the comedy is distinctly American or at least the product of an American who grew up on Monty Python skits. The weave of parallel storylines and absurd tangents in the first few episodes confidently points to something promising, but the real challenge is pulling off a reveal as satisfying as its build up. Luckily, Dirk Gently seems ready for such an accomplishment. (www.bbcamerica.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 6/10
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