Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
I do watch movies and tv just for fun, not always with an eye to review. Sometimes, though, I develop a need to write up something that surprises me. This has been a year full of quirky, downright weird, and surprising films and this one ended up lumped in with those. Dirk is based on novels by Douglas Adams, the guy who brought us The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the fun computer game Starship Titanic. I know of the Hitchhiker books though I didn’t make it past the second chapter of the first one or the first ten minutes of the tv series, but I played the game for a good long time and laughed a lot because it’s funny and gorgeous. Adams’ schtick was well plotted chaos, and that’s not generally my thing, but somehow I ended up watching yet another crazy and fun story in this crazy and fun year.
We’re introduced to Todd (Elijah Wood, Lord of the Rings), a complete loser failing at his job as a hotel porter. He needs an advance on his already paltry salary, after the landlord angrily bashes his car into oblivion. His supervisor brushes that off and instead sends him to the penthouse to check things out. There he finds a lot of blood, dismembered body parts, a bloody lottery ticket, and what looks like enormous bite marks everywhere. Like, taking out half the sofa in one bite marks, including on the ceiling. He doesn’t find the kitten.
After that it gets stranger and stranger. Characters are introduced and don’t seem to have much to do with Todd’s increasingly weird(er) life. A guy named Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett, Penny Dreadful) climbs into the window of his apartment and says he’s a holistic detective, meaning he doesn’t follow clues so much as letting life…flow over him and leaving him clues out of the chaos. They’re going to be great friends, he says to Todd, who doesn’t believe it for a second, but the guys who come in after Dirk and destroy his apartment for no reason mark the beginning of his relationship with Dirk.
It would be pointless to try explaining what happens next, because even after seeing the whole first season I don’t really understand it myself. It felt like I was getting it, toward the end, but on second thought I really don’t quite have it all. There are a lot of characters in the mix, like the seriously crazy Bart (Fiona Dourif (yes, that Dourif), When We Rise) who cannot be injured but kills in hilariously outmatched ways. I love the very last image of her in season one. Farah Black (Jade Eshete), is super kick butt but a little clueless, Todd’s sister Amanda (Hannah Marks) has pararibulitis (a fictional affliction that causes severe, violent self harm hallucinations), Gordon (Aaron Douglas) used to be a rock star but a body swap turned him into the king of the incels. Lydia (Alison Thornton) is a cute and obedient dog.
People are either following Dirk without truly understanding why or trying to kill Dirk without truly understanding why, and of course Dirk is following clues without truly understanding them. The whole thing is so incredibly convoluted and incomprehensible that even after the entire plot is explained in an extended scene near the end of the first season, I really couldn’t quite get everything sorted. But that’s okay. You don’t need to understand Douglas Adams to understand his plot. You just, let it wash over you, like Dirk does with clues.
This is not the only time Dirk Gently has been produced for media, including another tv show earlier in the century. It’s really a shame this incarnation lasted only two seasons, but I can’t imagine a team being able to maintain that level of insanity for very long.
The show is solid everywhere, from costuming to art direction to stunt work. All the actors take the bit in their mouth and turn in a good performance. Even if you have no idea what or why they’re doing stuff, it’s a joy to watch them. I haven’t read the books, but it doesn’t really matter because the show stands on its own as a bit of chaotic fun. If you can turn off your brain enough to not have to understand why everything happens until the very end, and maybe not even then, you will probably enjoy this. My favorite it Bart, who could easily be her own show so far as I’m concerned. Check this out some time, I think you’ll enjoy it.
CFR: In Addition. Well huh. I tried to watch this. I mean Elijah Wood and Douglas Adams! Hey I know all about rings and towels. But well, I just don’t like shows that don’t make some kind of sense. Look, I do not like Alice in Wonderland because my brain keeps thinking “Why?” That’s how I felt about this.
I might try it again. Mildred does have a way of persuasion.
Oh and don’t believe her: She watches media for this blog. LOLOL! Ok, NOT, but writing that made me laugh.