Tuesday, December 27, 2016

TV Review: Dirk Gently Episode Two

Computers are surely one of man's most important discoveries.

Through computers people are able to communicate with people from all around the world, start businesses, do taxes and most important, play solitaire. But often in speculative fiction thought have been given as to what the next step might be for these machines that are now integrating themselves into every waking moment of our lives.

One of the biggest achievements would be a computer that has intelligence and is able to learn and adapt to it's surroundings. That way rather than a computer becoming a cold machine that interrupts data it would become an instrument capable of so much more.

It is this aspect of technology that the latest adventure of Dirk Gently (Stephen Mangan and Richard Macduff (Darren Boyd) focuses on, as Dirk returns to his Cambridge roots to help the one person who he felt believed in him, Professor Jericho (Bill Patterson) who hires Dirk on as a security expert.

Of course, soon afterward while Dirk is looking for the paperwork for his expulsion from St. Cedd's, the university's robot is stolen and then Jericho is murdered, leading to all sort of hilarious happenings.

This episode is miles above the first episode of the series as everyone seems a bit more solid and well drawn in the script this time around. Dirk's romantic scenes with Jane (Lydia Wilson) are entertaining and believable and the supporting cast are just fantastic, making the episode move without feeling like the script is overlong like last week's installment.

There is also a nice nod for the Douglas Adams and Doctor Who fans in attendance as St. Cedd's is the same university used in the televised footage shot for Douglas Adams' Doctor Who script Shada, so it is a nice homage to Dirk's creator and a nice treat for observant science fiction fans.

Yet again the mystery side of things is not all that it could be, I think you will most likely figure out the solution to the problem at hand fairly quickly but the episode itself is enjoyable enough without having to strain your brain cells to work out some masterful dizzying twist.

Macduff however is beginning to feel a bit stale and repetitive to me as time goes on. It seems that being the Robin to Dirk's Batman is simply a matter of standing around, complaining about how Dirk refuses to name him openly as a partner in the Holistic Detective Agency while making the occasional cup of tea. He also get to argue with his girlfriend Susan (Helen Baxendale), who also seems to be there just to take pot shots at Dirk.

While the staleness of Macduff and Susan would possibly not be such a big deal in a longer series where we get to know our main characters over a much larger chunk of television, here it really makes the programme a little less enjoyable and a little more shallow in terms of character development.

On the flip side of this is how much this episode brings out a bit of a different side of Dirk Gently as it lays out, both the hurt and vulnerable Dirk that was expelled from St. Cedd's and the Dirk Gently that gets to show a bit more of his passionate side with his fling with Jane.

When all's said and done Dirk Gently continues to be an entertaining way to send an hour a week, but it's lack of development for it's main players and it's lack of quality sleuthing might make viewers feel glad that doses of Dirk come in short blasts rather than long series.

-Thomas Spychalski

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