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Reviews Series / Dirk Gentlys Holistic Detective Agency

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07/10/2019 05:53:51 •••

Maninahat's Vague Positive Review

It's kind of a crap shoot when it comes to Douglas Adams adaptations. Traditionally, when something is adapted to the screen, some huffy type will appear from nowhere and proclaim how much the book was better. With Douglas Adams though, he practically rewrites his own story for each medium, so you end up with a Roman forum of people arguing whether The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy was better as a radio play, or as a book series, or as a tv show or a movie, and no one will be right. I expect Dirk Gently will have the exact same problem.

Not that I've actually seen any other adaptation of Dirk Gently. I just know from a quick scan of the wikipedia page that the other iterations are nothing like what we are seeing on Netflix. Dirk Gently is a surreal sci-fi comedy drama about a hapless bellhop who gets dragged around by a self proclaimed "holistic detective" to find a missing girl. A major factor in this show is that it likes to fling as much bizarro, gonzo shit at you as possible, so I probably shouldn't describe any more plot details in case of spoiling it. Suffice to say, it is that constant stream of weirdness that makes the show so appealing. Even though nothing makes any immediate sense, you are convinced it will at some point, and that's what keeps you hooked all the way to the end. Rest assured everything does finally get a decent explanation (several in fact; the show is kind enough to reiterate the convoluted chain of events a couple of times, in case it still doesn't make sense).

Besides the colourful content of a mystery sci-fi detective plot, you have some really strong characters. Dirk Gently himself I didn't like so much - I'm a little wary of any show about eccentric "genius" British guys who splutter their way through a sci-fi shenanigans. I've had it up to here with Doctor Who-ified series (Constantine, I'm looking at you) and Dirk falls dangerously close to being another fanservice Anglo quirk peddler. Everyone else is great though, especially poor Elijiah Wood as the tortured, puppy-like little guy who actually has some genuinely shocking twists in store for us. There is also a broad ensemble of side characters who make it all work, such as a trigger-happy CIA guy, a suspiciously Mr. Plinkett-esque kidnapper, and a crazed, unstoppable assassin.

It's a good show, I got a lot of laughs, and it needs a bigger audience. Watch it!

07/10/2019 00:00:00

DGHDA (best not to call it Dirk Gently as that's the name of the separate British TV show) didn't have Douglas Adams involved (since he was long dead), but I felt it did a fantastic job of living up to Adams' legacy. DGHDA wasn't afraid to take liberties with the source material, and as such the writers didn't try to BE Adams, an attempt which would have failed. Instead they took the base concept and went their own way, making a series that was at once reverential and irreverent to the original books, very much their own but at the same time in the spirit of Adams.

I see what you mean about the character of Dirk as portrayed here - but I felt a little different. At first, yes, he seemed very much a "US vision of eccentric Brit" character, but this perception didn't last long to me, as I began to grok him. Bear in mind this is a guy who was thrown out of university, has never held down a job, and has had precious few (maybe zero) clients who've actually paid him, and yet things always just work out for him, somehow. He's also almost always RIGHT, no matter how crazy or unjustified his ideas are.

Dirk's eccentricity derives from the fact that he's never needed to learn how to fit in; he doesn't need social skills as the Universe provides for him. He doesn't really undergo character progression, because he doesn't need to. He may piss people off enough to get punched in the face, but like Bart, he'll never be killed or injured enough to stop him doing what he needs to do, and no matter what hole (often literally) he finds himself in, there will always be a way out.


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