Douglas Adams novels are notoriously difficult to produce, and even more difficult to produce well. Many of the jokes in Adams’s work come from his narrative style and specific form of writing, so when it is time to put his vision on the screen, the end result usually seems to lack the charm and wit of the original. In many ways, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is not an adaptation but rather a loose continuation of Dirk’s story from the books. This, perhaps, is the reason why it succeeds where past attempts to translate Adams’s work to television and film have fallen so woefully short.
The story follows Dirk Gently, a self-proclaimed holistic detective, who believes first and foremost that everything in the universe is interconnected. The true protagonist, however, is his assistant (Todd) who is swept into Dirk’s wild world when he becomes a person of interest in a high profile murder case. Other characters include a pair of cops investigating the murders, a teenage girl whose soul is trapped inside a corgi, a skilled bodyguard, and Todd’s sister who suffers from intense and painful hallucinations.
While this excess of characters makes the flow of the show difficult to follow for the first few episodes, their plots begin to intertwine as it progresses, proving Dirk’s holistic beliefs true. Every individual story ties together in a fast paced saga of time travel, soul swapping, cults, and government conspiracies, ultimately concluding in a high stakes battle to the death. Just when everything seems almost tied up, other plot lines that have been on the back burner re-emerge and throw the heroes out of the frying pan and into the fire, ending on several cliffhangers for the next season to resolve.
BBC America, which co-produced the series alongside Netflix, certainly left their mark on the show, as can be seen in the opening sequence and music which is reminiscent of their other successful sci-fi programme, Orphan Black. Certain characters and plot points are also similar, but while the shows share a lot of common factors, Dirk Gently never feels like a rip-off.
While not as comedic or surrealistic as Adams’s original books (which I would recommend to anyone), Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency provides much entertainment and many thrills along the way. It is funny and self-aware of the absurd nature of the plot, but does not shy away from darker tones when necessary. Whether you are a fan of sci-fi, action, adventure, drama or comedy, I would absolutely suggest giving it a watch.
Image: Angelo Giordano @ Pixabay