Thursday, January 12, 2017

'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency' by Max Landis

12 January 2017

In 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency' Douglas Adams broke every one of my rules of detective fiction in a glorious subversion of the genre. I loved the two published Dirk Gently novels and the unfinished third novel (published posthumously in ‘The Salmon of Doubt’, reviewed here in October 2009). There have been three dramatisations of Dirk Gently, with Harry Enfield’s portrayal of the detective in Dirk Maggs’ two BBC Radio 4 serials (reviewed here in October 2007 and October 2008) the closest to the character in the novels. The BBC Four TV version starring Stephen Mangan strangely stripped out the supernatural elements of the stories. The result was gentle and quirky but had nothing like the impact of the original. In the new TV adaptation by Max Landis for BBC America, which I have just started watching on Netflix, Samuel Barnett is nothing like my mental image on Dirk Gently but it really doesn’t seem to matter. Landis has created a completely new plot which takes Gently to Seattle (though there are a couple of nods to his previous cases from the novels). This version of 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency' has a very high death count: like Noah Hawley’s splendid ‘Fargo’ TV series many characters you assumed were going to be central to the plot are brutally assassinated before the end of the first episode. The slaughter is simultaneously sickeningly real and somehow hysterically funny – watch through your fingers. Elijah Wood is great as Dirk’s reluctant ‘Dirk Watson’, his eyes permanently wide with stunned bemusement but I think my favourite character is Richard Schiff’s laconic Missing Persons cop Zimmerfield. 'Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency' is incredibly confusing, completely bonkers and entrancing: Douglas Adams would have loved it.

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At 5:40 pm, Blogger Monmouthshire Antiquarian Association said...

It's awesome, isn't it!! Don't you just love the holistic serial killer - she can't be killed - the universe won't allow it. We've been howling with laughter in my house!
Rhian x


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