Even the most casual of ‘weird fiction’ fan will know about the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The irreverent and hilariously doom filled series has radio plays, TV shows, a feature length film, and incredibly hard puzzle PC game adaptations under its belt. But less known outside of the Adams’ fandom (and I will admit now, I am firmly within this group) is the Dirk Gently novels.
Only two were ever completed (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and The Long Dark Tea Time Of The Soul). The third, The Salmon Of Doubt, was left unfinished due to Adams’ untimely death. Written by Max Landis and starring Samuel Barnett, Elijah Wood and Hannah Marks, the Netflix adaptation over the course of two seasons incorporates the spirit, if not strictly the plot, of the novels to an exemplary level.
Dirk Gently is a ‘holistic detective’. This means he investigates the ‘fundamental interconnectivity of all things’. It basically means he's quirky! Throughout season one there are many seemingly nonsensical but fun plot threads. They are all revealed to be directly related as the show progresses. Even if virtually none of the characters can piece it together.
In season one Dirk is hired to investigate the murder of his client, by the client himself before he is actually murdered. Bellboy Todd (Elijah Wood) happens across the brutal bloodbath. It was seemingly caused by a large and vicious animal, shortly after inexplicably seeing a duplicate of himself in a hotel corridor. Dirk inserts himself in Todd’s life (suspiciously) and goes about simply being there and looking at anything of interest. The general logic is that it will all somehow be relevant, no matter how apparently disconnected things seem at first.
Of the plot threads to intertwine we have: Todd’s sister, Amanda who suffers from pararibulitis, a hereditary disease invented for the show. That causes her to suffer vivid and painful hallucinations. There is the odd biker gang trio, the ‘Rowdy 3’, who pursue Dirk and suck inexplicable glowing energy from him. We have body swap technology that can plant the souls of people into other people (or animals!). Plus time travel conundrums and a psychotic murderess who kills whomever the universe tells her to (the ‘universe’ helping her to escape without consequences each time). Lastly there are Black Ops style goons called ‘Blackwing’ who veer from ultra secrecy to ultra violence in a heartbeat. And this is just season one!
It is actually incredibly hard to describe a show like Dirk Gently. All I can really say is that, as an Adams fan, I applaud how the show captures the essence of the books perfectly. And considering I watched the show with a non-Adams fan, I can confirm that background knowledge is not a must to enjoy what is on offer. Season one has eight episodes giving the Dirk Gently universe a hugely funny yet brutal lease of life.
Words by Michael Record