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Series / Dirk Gently

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Dirk Gently is a BBC TV series inspired by the Dirk Gently books written by Douglas Adams, adapted for television by Howard Overman. It stars Stephen Mangan as Dirk Gently, an eccentric detective who operates according to a holistic principle he calls 'the fundamental interconnectedness of all things' — namely, that since everything is somehow linked together, then anything he does will bring him closer towards solving the mystery, meaning he can theoretically do anything and solve the case — and get paid for it.

To most people, this just seems like confidence trickery designed to enable him to bugger around at the client's expense — but he has a strange habit of being proven right...

A television pilot (loosely based on plot elements of the first book) in 2010; a full series of three episodes (notable as BBC4's first ever continuing drama series) aired in March 2012. In May 2012, it was announced that the series was not being recommissioned.

If you're looking for the series that began in 2016, you want here.

This series provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Dirk is described most unflatteringly in the books; here, he is reasonably handsome (being notably taller and thinner than his book counterpart), though still unkempt and oddly dressed.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: The kid who hacks Susan's laptop gets paid with cigarettes.
  • The Alleged Car: Dirk's brown Princess, a model made in the 70s, making it at least 29 years old by the time of the series.
  • Amusing Injuries: Zigzagged; Dirk's thumb getting broken in episode 3 is treated with Black Humor, but he gets a cast for it, which sticks around for the rest of the episode.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Richard lampshades this when Dirk, a firm believer of the interconnectedness of all things, finds the notion of horoscopes being accurate impossible.
  • Arc Words: "Embrace the chaos", "Follow the web of interconnected events".
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Dirk says he finds men with moustaches more mistrustful than other men, examples being Hitler and Tom Selleck.
  • Artistic License Geography: The island Dirk is showing having escaped to in the conclusion is actually Hispaniola. Barbados is about a thousand miles further East in the Lesser Antilles.
  • Artistic License Physics: Gordon's iPhone activates immediately, despite having being hidden in Ruth's house for several years.
  • The Bad Guys Win: Episode one ends with the US government successfully invading Mexico, using the 'reason' software to make it look justified.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: When Richard asks Dirk if he thinks Gordon has something to do with Henry's disappearance, Dirk responds by saying he has no knowledge of Gordon's sexual preferences, feline or otherwise. Ends up being a Brick Joke.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ruth is guilty of double homicide.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The first episode. Mr. Edwards' killer was found and apprehended, and Mr. Reynolds' brain tumor is diagnosed and would probably be treated, as well as his marriage probably recovering afterwards. On the other hand, Dirk loses the Reason program to a Pentagon agent and the US takes over Mexico...
    • The second ends less bitterly, as Jane/MAX get away scot-free and Dirk is proven innocent, but MAX goes away to explore the world (and probably outrun from her creator), while Dirk stays behind to manage his 'business'.
    • At the end of the third episode, Dirk and Richard end up catching a highly wanted assassin (and possibly collect the reward for it), but at that point, the damage had already been done and several people were killed because Dirk's too cheap to replace his faulty answering machine.
  • Bland-Name Product: Richard's laptop is a MacBook with a "pear" logo.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Dirk promises he won't do anything like this to Macduff when trying to uncover some important memories with hypnosis. It's a lie; he makes Richard think joining the detective agency is a good thing.
  • Brick Joke:
    • When Richard asks Dirk if he thinks Gordon has something to do with Henry's disappearance, Dirk responds by saying he has no knowledge of Gordon's sexual preferences, feline or otherwise. When he gets a hold of Gordon Way's therapy meeting records, his first comment is Gordon showed no sign of inappropriate feelings towards cats.
    • While describing the year 1994, Dirk mentions the band E 17 was riding up the charts. When Susan finds Gordon's phone in Ruth's house, the newspaper it's wrapped up in has a headline mentioning E 17 riding up the charts.
  • British Brevity: The series to date comprises a pilot aired at the end of 2010 followed by three episodes in early 2012.
  • Broken Pedestal: In episode 2, Dirk's old mentor, Professor Jericho. Dr Ransome actually tells Dirk pretty much everything he needs to know to solve the case early in the episode, but he ignores her because it involves some home truths about Jericho that he'd rather not accept. Eventually he has to admit she was right.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: A Heroic Comedic Sociopath, Cloud Cuckoo Lander, Jerkass, and Con Artist he may be, but Dirk will always solve the case.
  • Cassandra Truth: Oliver Reynolds in the first episode of the series, Dr Ransome in the second.
  • Catchphrase: Dirk, whenever trying to get his car to work always shouts: "COME ON YOU BEAUTIFUL BITCH!"
  • Chekhov's Armoury: It wouldn't be Dirk Gently without it.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Jane, the girl Dirk gets a crush on in the second episode. This is mostly because she's actually MAX, an artificial intelligence which downloaded itself into the body of a braindead woman.
  • The Cloud Cuckoolander Was Right: Dirk in the pilot.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Dirk towards Macduff. And Susan. And Janice. And his clients. And Gilks, when he can get away with it. And random people he meets on the street.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Richard asks Dirk if he thinks Gordon has something to do with Henry's disappearance, Dirk responds by saying he has no knowledge of Gordon's sexual preferences, feline or otherwise. Ends up being a Brick Joke.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Mr. Edwards in the first episode, although he's Properly Paranoid.
  • Cow Tools: Dirk's office is full of them. It's just the way he is.
  • Darkest Hour: Episode three, where someone is out killing the agency's old clients, while Dirk and MacDuff's friendship is strained to its limits by Dirk's selfishness.
  • Detective Patsy: Dirk finds himself victim of this by his mentor Dr. Jericho, of all people.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Ruth from the pilot, and Dirk's new cleaning lady from episode 3.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Dirk's cases may involve time travel (across 16 years, not billions) and artificial intelligence, but they're all instances of advanced human technology. Unlike the novels, this is not the kind of series where aliens, ghosts and Norse gods will show up.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Lampshaded in the pilot.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ruth, after Dirk tells her what happened to Henry/George.
  • Dumb Blonde: Melinda from episode 3.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Dirk notes Gordon Way is very attractive despite being heterosexual.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus / Mythology Gag: At one point on Dirk's whiteboard/wall there are numerous references to the first Dirk Gently novel. There's also a newspaper containing a reference to a horse in an upstairs room, which was also relevant in said novel.
  • Genre Savvy: In the third episode, Dirk's figured out his cases are generally never solved without lots of seemingly-random plot-threads coming together. It leads him to keep looking for the murderer even when the obvious killer's been arrested (and he's right, too.)
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Do you even need to be told it's Dirk?
  • Hired to Hunt Himself: Episode three has Dirk stalk a woman in an attempt at courting, only to be hired to find her stalker.
  • Insistent Terminology: Dirk calls MacDuff his assistant and not his partner, much to the latter's annoyance.
  • Inspector Javert: Subverted in episode 3. It at first seems Gilks was after Dirk to arrest him for his previous client's recent murders, only for it to turn out he wanted to protect him from getting murdered himself. He may hate Dirk, but he doesn't think Dirk would kill anybody (on purpose, anyway).
  • Irrevocable Message: The pilot reprises the "Richard breaks through Susan's window to retrieve a message" bit from the first book, only it's an e-mail he wants to wipe from her laptop, not an answering machine tape. (Also, Susan lives in a house, not a high-rise flat, so this course of action isn't as completely insane as it is in the book, and the resultant explanation isn't needed.)
  • Jerkass: Dirk, of course. Gilks counts too.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Gilks in episode 3. If Dirk hadn't been too cheap to buy a new answering machine, a lot of innocent people would not have been killed. Macduff lampshades it after giving him a Shut Up, Hannibal!.
  • Last-Name Basis: Dirk only calls Richard "MacDuff".
  • Let Off by the Detective: Max/Jane.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Jane becomes this for Dirk.
  • Metaphorgotten: In the third episode, this dialogue:
    Suspect: Are you sayin something's fishy, Mr. Gently?
    Dirk: Are you saying, there's nothing to catch? in this river?
    Suspect: I'm sayin, your waders have got a hole in 'em.
    Dirk: W..Well, I'm very adept with...a puncture repair kit.
  • Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: Inverted at the end of the first episode of the series.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Early in Dirk's career, he framed a random office worker named Robby for post-it note theft hoping he'd turn out to be the culprit. He wasn't, but the resulting police investigation discovered Robby had murdered his brother.