Thursday, January 05, 2017

I’m Glad I Didn’t Give Up on ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’

I’ve not read any of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently novels.  But I have a vague idea on what it’s about: a quirky detective who solves cases by seemingly doing random activities, but they all add up to contribute in some way to the solution of the mystery.  I did read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so I’m familiar, at least, of Adams’ humor and writing style.  I enjoyed it, but honestly, I didn’t really love it.

If only those I’ve mentioned above are considered, they’re probably not enough to compel me to watch this TV series adaptation.  But the main reason why this show intrigued me is it’s created for TV by Max Landis, who I’m somewhat of a fan of.  I think the man has a genuine talent for conceptualizing interesting story ideas, though they don’t necessarily always translate well on screen.  But as far as fresh, intriguing concepts for stories are concerned, he really knows how to devise these highly imaginative premises and plot points.  Also, he wrote the Superman: American Alien comic book mini-series, one of the best Superman re-imaginings ever.

So I gave the show a go.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is about a goofy young man named Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett) who claims to be a “holistic detective,” as he takes on a case in an impulsive, unorthodox, unsystematic, and ad lib manner, since he believes that the universe is interconnected and that fate will eventually let him piece together the puzzle through the random events he encounters and random actions he does.

The first season features an outlandish case that involves some pretty weird science fiction elements involving a cult of body-swapping, hippie assassins; the grisly murder of an eccentric businessman with connections to an eccentric inventor in the past; and the search for his missing daughter.
In addition to these, the “Holistic Detective Agency” aspect is also set up, introducing Dirk’s reluctant sidekick Todd Brotzman (Elijah Wood), a bellhop that Dirk persistently recruits to be his assistant, and Farah Black (Jade Eshete), a private security officer who teams up with Dirk and Todd in the case.  Other elements and characters are also put at play, including Todd’s sister, Amanda Brotzman (Hannah Marks), who is suffering from an intense psychological illness that gives her severely realistic and painful hallucinations; and a “holistic assassin” named Bart Curlish (Fiona Dourif) and the fact that she, Dirk, and a couple of others used to be subjects of a government organization that studied and detained people with special abilities.

This is an absolutely oddball show.  Which makes it amusing right off the bat.  But it did arrive at a point where I feel turned off as it began to feel overindulging with its absurdity and nuttiness.  I understand while others might not feel this show is for them, and may discontinue watching.
If it had been a longer season, I probably would have given up on this show by episode five.  But because the season only had eight episodes, I stuck with it.  And I’m glad I did.  It turned out being an absolute treat in its entirety.  Reflecting the concept of its premise, the elements that felt nonsensical and preposterous turned out making delightful sense in the end.

Just like with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency didn’t completely blow me away, but its various idiosyncratic elements result to an utterly enjoyable debut season as a whole – staying true to the meaning of the word of “holistic.”

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