DIRK GENTLY’S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY is a recent fast-paced sci-fi show from BBC America. The series is loosely based upon the 1987 novel of the same name by Douglas Adams. Adams, of course, being the author of the famous The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book series.
The show begins as Todd Brotzman (Elijah Wood) finds himself seemingly at the centre of a tangled web of murder, dognapping and the activities of a strange cult.
This, of course, attracts the attention of the even stranger Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett). As it turns out, the eccentric holistic detective may be worse for Todd than being at the centre of a murder investigation.
It is difficult to describe the plot of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Put simply, it is a mess and purposefully so. The show draws upon a huge number of plots points, jumping genres and tone at a ferocious pace. Not a single character in the show, from the put-upon Todd to the mysterious cult member Gordon Rimmer (Aaron Douglas), knows what is going on.
This is where the show weaves in Dirk Gently and his so-called holistic detective methods. As a detective, Dirk doesn’t do anything as simple as looking for clues or following evidence.
Rather, he lets the “interconnectedness” of everything, or fate, drive his investigations. Unfortunately for Todd, fate seems to enjoy dropping Dirk right slap bang in the middle of trouble.
Now, no hero, even one as questionable as Dirk Gently, is complete without a dangerous counterpart. Dirk’s adversary comes in the form of Bart Curlish (Fiona Dourif),
who, like Dirk, believes that everything is connected. The only difference is that she is an assassin, a holistic assassin, and fate seems to want her to kill Dirk Gently. Dirk and Bart aren’t even the strangest of the vast bunch of characters that inhabit the world of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.
The enigmatic Rowdy 3, of which there are four, routinely appear out of nowhere to terrorise Dirk and whoever else happens to be nearby.
Then there’s Farah Black (Jade Eshete), a highly trained yet untested bodyguard on the hunt for the missing daughter of the man in which whose murder Todd is a suspect.
All these characters, and more, come together in this bizarre and,
dare I say, interconnected tapestry of motivations, events and plot points that make up this show.
They are each interesting in their own right, but whether these storylines mesh well is up for debate.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, despite its constant genre hopping,
is billed as a sci-fi comedy.
The humour in this series is often dark and unexpected,
whether this comes from a dog being thrown off a bridge to a weaponised kitten.
And yet, sometimes the humour is obvious and silly and
more in line with the frenetic nature of the show.
This is an unexpected combination and it has its ups and downs.
Most of the laughs in the show come from the sheer confusion that the characters embody in serious moments as things get weirder and weirder.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is not an easy show to judge. Some viewers are bound to love it and others are bound to hate it.
But, it’s almost impossible to tell who without having them actually watch the show. The show can also come across as meddling with aspirations to something more interesting and flashes of genius. As the series has recently been renewed, it may become more focused in the second season.