Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is Max Landis’ adaptation of Douglas Adams novel of the same name, in which Todd (played by everyone’s favourite Hobbit Elijah Wood) a 30-year-old bellboy who seems to be more depressed than either necessary or possible, is drawn into a tangled web of conspiracy by titular eccentric detective who believes everything is connected. Through the 8-episode season we are introduced to creepy cults, government militia, a variety of pets and a host of other bizarre characters.
And it is eccentric, probably too eccentric. Landis said recently that you shouldn’t adapt Adams literally, because you will inevitably fail at it, a hint which he seems to have really taken to the extreme. There’s a few similar plot points, but for the most part, Dirk Gently is absolutely nothing like the book. Not to say it isn’t enjoyable as its own thing. Gently’s own catchphrase; Everything is connected, does prove to be true (more or less). There’s that moment near the end where all the pieces fall into place and start to make sense, which was the most satisfying part of the series, but it’s also quite fun to get there. Of course, you would never guess the plot from the get go, and it takes a couple of contrivances -not to mention several fairly gaping plot holes- to get there, but there’s plenty of action and mystery to keep us entertained along the way. Its eclectic in every sense, there can be a well-choreographed action scene, followed by some cringe-inducing dialogue, then instantly made up for with some classic Adams wit, though the rollercoaster of quality is really what compels to keep watching. It is, for all intents and purposes, a new age Doctor Who, though unlike Doctor Who, the title character is pretty rubbish
I’d actually go as far as saying that the immensely annoying Dirk is the worst part of the show. Most of the characters are attempted to be made whole, have reasonable objectives and motives for their actions. Dirk just seems to be there to get excited about everything, though maybe that’s the point. However, unlike his closest DW comparison, Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, there’s no darkness or even substance to the character. It just doesn’t really work when he’s constantly switching between ‘everything is connected, ergo everything will be alright in the end’ and screaming and running away at anything that comes his way. There’s the hint that we’ll learn more about Dirk in forthcoming series, which I hope really wraps everything up, because at the moment we have almost no reason to care about him at all, other than to be annoyed at him.
Beyond that though, the characters aren’t bad. It doesn’t deserve any Emmy’s for outstanding writing or acting, but on the whole it’s not that hard to get attached to the massively varied cast of kooky misfits. It does seem like a lot of the character problems can be solved with ease, however it would be nowhere near as fun.
What else is there to say? The music by Cristobal Tapia de Veer (one of the businesses greatest names hands down) of Girl With All The Gifts fame -a really brilliant score, is suitably strange and eclectic, but no less brilliant. The overall design and feel of the show is interesting, vibrant and cohesive, and the special effects are towards the best the BBC has on offer. The setup for season 2 is implemented about as well as a tuning fork on a toaster, but it’s there, and hopefully the next case will be as enjoyable as the first.
If you enjoy your quirky sci-fi, this one will be for you, if not maybe you’ll find something else to enjoy amongst Dirk Gently’s bizarrities. I hope it gets better and becomes something more than a simple but enjoyable mystery show, but for what it is currently, it’s worth the ride.