Tuesday, December 27, 2016

TV Review: Dirk Gently Series Pilot

There is always a danger when adapting a television show or film from another authors work, especially from the more detailed and in depth pages of a book. There is a real peril in trying to capture the essence and feel of the source material and success is not always a given.
For every well done adaption there are countless utter failures and there is even more risk when you are trying to recreate something from a popular writer who has a great number of critical followers.

Dirk Gently's debut did not fall into any of these pitfalls, with Howard Overman doing a simply remarkable job of conveying an atmosphere worthy of Douglas Adams and making a grand impression that somewhere, someplace, Douglas is smiling in amusement, that is if they get BBC Four in the afterlife.

Dirk Gently, as played by Stephen Mangan, also seems to channel Adams spirit as well, as an almost Earth bound Ford Prefect. He is mad, in your face and a wonderful addition to the halls of the British detective. His boundless energy and passion are almost at the same level of interest to the viewer as his lack of funds and shoddy, broken down office.

Every Sherlock Holmes of course needs a Doctor Watson and Dirk seemingly has his in Richard MacDuff, a simple soul who seems to be easily lead and also vulnerable to ridicule as much Dirk himself. But they also seem to have a bond with each other, despite being complete opposites The trio that makes up the main cast is rounded out by MacDuff's girlfriend Susan, who distrusts Dirk's methods and his legitimacy as a proper detective.

Of course a great detective is measured by the mystery or case he sets out to solve and here too the script goes all out as we are faced with a series of seemingly random events such as a missing cat, a exploding warehouse and East 17 topping the music charts in 1994.
All of these scattered events are connected in Dirk Gently's method of interconnectedness that creates a solution that is sure to bring a smile when all is said and done and a bit of serious head scratching before the big reveal.

Science fiction elements are not as prominent as in Adams' take, but there are indeed parts of the storyline that have a taste of the speculative, but not so much so that it takes away from what this programme is meant to be, a detective show much in the vein of Monk, with a lead that although a genius in his own way, also is miles away from the usual hard nose private eye.

Truly there is not enough praise I can dish out for this hour long television event, it was smart, funny, true to it's source material and the brilliance of it's original creator while forging a new mold of the concept for television. Hopefully the ratings and the critical and audience response is such that it gets to be a full series as it has all the right elements to be a hit, no sleuthing necessary.

-Thomas Spychalski

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