Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pilot Review: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (BBC America)
Premiered October 22 at 9pm

I nearly missed this premiere altogether, and I’m just that I saw the show advertised on the side of a bus to remind myself about its existence. Its title is inarguably intriguing, and finding out that it’s based on books by Douglas Adams, author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” only makes it more appealing. I’ve commented before about the notion of BBC America producing original series, British fare designed exclusively for American audiences. This show is best described as exactly the kind of show that Elijah Wood would star in after completing a four-season role on “Wilfred.” This show is undeniably and unapologetically strange, but it’s also funny and extremely clever. The nature of the crimes shown is actually quite brutal, but this show takes a far more fanciful and lighthearted tone. I love that there are not one but two sets of hapless law enforcement officials tailing the equally inept Todd Brotzman, and that Richard Schiff’s eyebrow-raising Zimmerfield emerged for the gun standoff still wearing his bib. Everything about Dirk Gently’s worldview is fantastic, describing himself as a holistic detective who doesn’t do any of the normal things like look for clues or evidence yet still manages to solve cases anyway. The fact that there’s also a holistic assassin who kills whoever she feels like and then they turn out to be her targets is just as great, though it’s unclear how she and Dirk are connected. This reminds me of “Magnolia,” particularly the two fateful gunshots that took out the imprisoner of the woman chained to the bed above Todd’s apartment and the firer of the second bullet who was just trying to make a microwave stop beeping. I loved that, on his way up to the bloody penthouse, Todd encountered what appeared to be a version of himself swearing about time travel, which makes me very excited for the prospect of what’s to come. His lottery win only ups the anticipation.

How will it work as a series? I have no idea. Right now I’m very interested to see what comes next, but part of this show’s success, if not most of it, rests on it being irreverent, which doesn’t always lead to consistency. I’m optimistic that eight episodes shouldn’t be a problem to weave a compelling – and dizzying – narrative.
How long will it last? It looks like reviews were decent for the pilot, and the show will definitely find a certain audience. BBC America has different standards than other networks, so it’s hard to know how long the show will continue, but I figure a season or two, dictated by creative direction, is about what it’s going to get.

Pilot grade: B+

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