A BIT of HISTORY…
DIRK GENTLY’S Holistic Detective Agency is based on a book written by Douglas Adam, published in 1987. Many of you may know him as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! Mr. Adams also wrote 3 episodes of a show I am very fond of, known as Doctor Who! He wrote episodes during the time of Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor, namely “The Pirate Planet”, “City of Death”, and most notably (or un-notably?), an episode called “Shada”.
SHADA IS NOTABLE in the fact that it was eventually canceled and never aired. Douglas Adam took the original screenplay idea and adapted parts of it (and bits of City of Death) into a book called… you guessed it… Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.
DIRK GENTLY was the first book of what was supposed to be a trilogy. It was followed by “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul”, which was published in 1988. Then, the final book in the series, which was tentatively titled The Salmon of Doubt, was in the works. Unfortunately, Douglas Adam died before he could complete it. He passed away on May 11th, 2001 of a heart attack.
IT WAS EVENTUALLY INCLUDED, along with his various published and unpublished writing, in a collection called The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time. It wasn’t solely dedicated to the last and final book in the Dirk Gently series, as it included other pieces and ideas he worked on during his life, but it is worthy of note because it included the incomplete 3rd novel. It was published in 2002, just a year after his death.
SINCE THEN the Dirk Gently series has been adapted into an Audio Book in 2007 & 2008, a Television version that followed ideas from the books to tell a new narrative in 2010, and a BBC adaption for TV in 2016.
How I Got into the Show
I HAD SEEN IMAGES, promotion, and what have you, from Dirk Gently across social media around the time that it came out back in good ol’ 2016. I was mildly interested but never gave the show a second thought. I mean, the only thing that did stand out to me, however, was that Elijah Wood was a part of the cast. And because of that I also, for some strange reason, associated Dirk Gently with that other show Elijah Wood was on? You know, the one with the Dog? Um, oh! Yes. Wilfred. I thought Dirk Gently may have been a spin-off of some sort.
FAST FORWARD to September 15th, 2017. I was browsing my Hulu Watchlist, and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency happened to be added. I’m not sure if it was added that day, or a few days earlier because I don’t remember ever seeing it in the maze of movies and TV shows. I would sift through everything, from time to time, in hopes of finding a gem from my childhood.
SO, ON A WHIM, while I was working on some late-night animation, I decided to watch the first episode. Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting anything too amazing. I wasn’t even expecting to like it. That’s how it usually is, as those who watched my Drawing Talk about Doctor Who can attest to. And if you haven’t watched it, please give it a look!
I STARTED EPISODE ONE. Cool, looked interesting. We open with a bloody room, gore streaked all over the place and then we see Elijah Wood… whoa, this dude is crazy… So this is a show about Elijah Wood, or Todd Botzman, getting his life back together, but witnesses a murder. Right, gotcha. And he’ll need a Detective Agency to put help figure everything out?
AND THEN HE SEES HIMSELF! Then finds a mysterious lottery ticket and gets grilled by the cops. Then Dirk pops into his apartment, unannounced, spouting odd, quirky dialogue and being freaking adorable! Then, THEN, some psycho chick runs up, stabs a dude, runs after some random bystander, and says that she’s looking for Dirk Gently, so she can kill him! You meet Todd’s ill sister, two shady military troopers staking out Todd’s apartment, and a group of leather-clad gang members tear up said apartment before sucking some glowing blue light out of Dirk’s body and leaving casually… while squeezing one of those stress dolls. You know, the ones with the eyes that pop out? Yeah. And this is only episode one! What is going on, and what did I just watch? I was blown away.
I HAVE TO ADMIT that this is one of my favorite shows, now. The first episode was so zany and outlandish that it had me hooked and wanting to know more! I mean, what was going on? It has a serious Doctor Who vibe, which makes sense now that I know it was created after a canceled Doctor Who script! And how can you go wrong with the BBC? And Elijah Wood?
What I Liked
I LOVE DIRK the most because he reminds me of the Doctor. Seriously. A mysterious man with a kind heart and genius hidden behind a facade of fun-loving quirkiness.
I ALSO HAVE TO praise the dialogue. I freaking loved it! The writing for the characters was so good throughout. They way they spoke, interacted with each other, reacted to situations, and just blew up on screen was fantastic to watch! Dirk, Todd, Amanda, Farah, Rimmer, Estevez and Zimmerfield, Ed, Zed, Bart, Ken, and the Rowdy 3! It’s an oddball cast through and through, and every one of them was interesting, unique, and I don’t think there’s a single character that I didn’t like! I mean except for the idiot sniper. What’s his name? Screw that guy.
DIRK GENTLY IS MY new favorite person, next to the Doctor. I freaking love that guy! My sister said it best, “Dirk reminds me of the 11th Doctor and Newt Schamander (from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I loved that movie by the way!). He had me when he started asking about Todd’s life, talking about his philosophy and how everything is connected.
BART IS MY SECOND favorite character in the whole show. I loved her spiel about how she kills who needs to be killed, how she can’t get hurt, and how the universe leads her to the target that needs to die. She’s just plain weird, psychotic, and ruthless! But despite her haggard appearance, I am oddly attracted to her. She’s so freaking cute! I was always excited when she showed up on screen, and her friendship with Ken throughout the season always made me smile.
A BIT OF TRIVIA info on the actress that plays Bart, Fiona Dourif: she is the daughter of, Brad Dourif. I had no idea! Brad Dourif has been in loads of films, but I remember him the most as Chucky from Child’s Play and Wormtongue in Lord of the Rings. I can see the resemblance!
I ALSO THOUGHT it was cool how Bart said, “Things they double up. They parallel. Everything is chaos… but it’s synchronized.” Moments when Bart and Ken realize something, and then it cuts to Dirk and Todd realizing the same thing in a slightly different way.
THE ROWDY 3 surprised me, as well. When they first came on the scene, I disliked them immediately. Specifically, because they looked like that stereotypical bully group, ala the bikers from Weird Science, or the gang from Wynnona Earp (Which is funny because Martin, Michael Ekland, is also the bad guy in Wynnona Earp! The parallels people, the parallels!). You know, just there to make the protagonist’s life a living hell, by being as cutthroat and disruptive as possible? But they weren’t. And they eventually became some of my favorite characters. I was always rooting for them to show up.
I WAS INVESTED the whole way through. I was so excited about it after the first episode that I stopped to watch it with my wife. I rewatched episode 1 with her, and we were both hooked! We binge-watched the show over three days, and were geeking out together the whole time! And the ending? That ending! Oh man, more on that in a bit, but yeah. So good!
EVERYTHING ABOUT DIRK GENTLY, from the characters to the dialogue, the writing, the lore, the mystery, and the philosophy had me mesmerized! I have to say I loved it, and there are very few shows nowadays, if ever, that I feel so invested in. Dude, it’s so good! And while I do hold the show as one of my top favs of all time, it isn’t perfect, and there are a few places that I felt fell a bit short of my expectations.
What I Didn’t Like
FOR ONE, I was disappointed that Dirk is a psychic and not a mad genius. I mean yes we have the Doctor for that, and Sherlock, so I suppose it couldn’t be more of the same. But I was hoping, since it is a mystery, to see how Dirk put it all together. Like in Doctor Who, there’s a moment when everything is in chaos, and in the end the Doctor stops, concocts something brilliant in his head, and totally turns the situation around in a bout of unrivaled genius! Or like in Sherlock, when Benedict Cumberbatch would look at clues, and the camera would swing around to show the viewer what he saw, how he was piecing everything together, and eventually deducing the correct answer.
DIRK LACKED THAT magnificent Aha! moment. I think it was a missed opportunity to show the world through Dirk’s eyes, to hear the voices, see the visions, and see how he’s able to put the random clues together, you know? But in the final episodes, he just spouts off what happened, and it’s given in a plodding, albeit entertaining (because Dirk is, once again, adorable) voice over. I would have liked to see it first hand, and I would have liked to see how Dirk came to that conclusion.
ALSO, THE ULTIMATE REVEAL of Patrick Spring, and his overall master plan was just anti-climactic. It seemed overly convoluted, and the pay off when you finally unravel the truth of the mystery does not live up to all the manic chaos and hype that led up to it. I was really hoping to be blown away. But I wasn’t. Although, I feel like if they had more than 8 episodes, they could have done more and fleshed it out. Truth be told, this was a very inspired story, and for them to tell it in only 8 episodes? Kudos to them, man, honestly, cause this show had a lot to tie up.
GOING BACK TO THE ENDING, I also feel like the final confrontation with the Men of the Machine was lackluster. I mean, they were freaking bonkers when they showed up for the first time, and I loved it! Rimmer was specifically amazing because he reminded me of Mr. Plinkett from the Red Letter Media reviews, and that guy is a freaking win all the time! I was expecting so much from them. Then you find out they’re just hippies? I was hoping for some Full Metal Alchemist level body-hopping! So their origin, like my gripe with Patrick Spring, didn’t live up to the build-up. I was hoping there’d be more to them.
AND DID THEY REALLY have to kill Estevez? I mean seriously! I loved that guy, and I was hoping he’d be a part of Dirk’s Detective Agency. I thought he and Rimmer would have made some interesting additions to the team. Also, Estevez finally knew what was going on! He was a part of the world. He was in the know and deserved a better death than that. So once again, screw Sgt. Hugo Friedkin.
I’M EXCITED FOR SEASON 2! Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency was a rare find, at least rare to me since I never had any interest in watching the show. I know season 2 has already begun as of the posting of this rant, but I’m waiting for it to come, in all it’s glory, to Hulu so I can binge-watch the hell out of it with my wife!
THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading. Have you seen Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency? What did you like or dislike about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Keep that imagination kicking! Please take care all, you all rock. Cheers!