The home of Critic, Writer and Film-maker: Liam Walters

The Fundamental Interconnectedness of All Things


Written By: Liam Walters

Based on the novels written by Douglas Adams (famously known for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Dirk Gently is a sort of Modern Day adaptation, although does not directly place the novels story on screen, just instead uses the characters and themes, to in my opinion, great effect. Produced for BBC4 (which is why it seems relatively unknown, despite the pilot having been broadcasted numerous times around Christmas 2010, before being rebroadcasted more recently),  it stars Stephen Mangan as holistic detective Dirk Gently, who on his new case to find a cat, is acquainted with two friends from University, Richard McDuff’ and Susan Harmison, played by Darren Boyd and Helen Baxendale respectively.

So never having read either of the Dirk Gently novels, I am unable to compare the show to it’s original format. The pilot was adapted by Misfits creator Howard Overman, and I am glad to say that I believe he has done a fantastic job. Even without comparing it to the original novels, the program was funny and interesting, allowing the audience to divulge in to the story and the characters, whilst making sense of the science fiction elements (such as time travel) being introduced into the real world. Mangan does a fantastic job with Dirk Gently, bringing the term Holistic Detective to life before our very eyes.

Unlike most detective stories, this is not really a case of whodunit, as for most of the story, it seems as though none of the characters have died. In fact, this is revealed along with the murderer at the same time (it transpires that the old lady who hired Dirk, killed her husband as well as Gordon). What I found quite odd is that none of the characters really ever bring this up. You can forgive Dirk, as he only really seems bothered about getting paid (as he says himself “so looks like we’ve finally established the final resting place of Gordon Way, for which I have do doubt I wont be rewarded”). You would expect McDuff or at the very least Susan to voice that this old woman has just admitted to killing two people. That said, Susan still is in disbelief that Ruth has, even seeming to have her doubts after Ruth telling the three of them she has poisoned their tea.

One of the quite nice surprises in this pilot was Detective Inspector Gilks, played by Jason Watkins. Watkins is a personal favourite actor of mine, although not too well know, when he does appear on the screen he always brings a magnificent performance. Most known for being Herrick on Being Human, Watkins has also had roles in other television shows such as in Life on Mars and Psychoville, among many more. As always, in Dirk Gently, Watkins gives an outstanding performance with DI Gilks, someone who has seemed to have dealt with Gently more times than he wishes to have had.

In all, this seems like a very well done adaptation, one which makes me want to go read the original material (which a good adaptation always should). Although the show is only loosely based around the novels, as well as the show being more modern (Anybody spot that iPhone?), I still have hopes that the novels are even more excellent, especially having been written by one of the all time greatest writers. on a final note, near the end of March, a 3 part series was commissioned for 1 hour long episodes of Dirk Gently to be broadcast on BBC4 in the future, so I look forward to this in hopes of seeing where they can take the series from this starting pilot.

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