‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’: Beware the kitten shark!

dirk-gentlys

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Spoilers totally in the aether!

Welcome to another cheerfully zany and wacky BBC adaptation of a classic Douglas Adams story, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency! Yes there are massive spoilers to follow, but then this is another show where if you talk about one thing, it inevitably leads to another spoiler, just proving that, as they say on the show, everything really is connected! You were warned!

So Todd (Elijah Wood) isn’t having the best life. His bellhop job sucks and he’s about to be fired from it anyway, there is virtually no money to speak of, his sister Amanda (Hannah Marks) has this odd disease and needs fairly constant care, and to top it all off, he just met Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett). After catching a vision of himself in a very odd getup following Gently, Todd gets himself caught up in Dirk’s world of half-baked suppositions, barely understood clues, and connections that are more often than not out of this world!

It takes a good deal of hullaballoo and storytelling frippery to get the explanatory episode, so I’m going to go ahead and broadly spoil as much of it as I can explain. Some years in the past, an inventor, Patrick Spring, made a time machine that actually worked. In fact, it worked a little too blasted well. After encountering different versions of himself from the present-past and the future, our inventor decides to get rid of the time machine, but of course by then its far too late. This odd secret society of folk have discovered that the time machine has other useful properties to explore, and start switching their spirits into other bodies. (This process can be used even on animals, sometimes with interesting magical side effects too, hence the kitten shark..) Lydia Spring (Alison Thornton) is the modern-day heir of our original inventor and the secret society of body-swapping sort-of immortals are after her, and a whole mess ends up with Lydia switching bodies and spirits with her corgi dog. The hunt for Lydia is on, and all perceptions of regular reality must be suspended before we can go on to assist Dirk in his holistic investigation!

Dirk has plenty of secrets and troubles of his own, aside from being unable to fully explain what a “holistic detective” does to Todd, or incapable of fully understanding the impact his presence alone will have on the boring life of the ex-bellhop. Estevez (Neil Brown Jr.) and Zimmerfield (Richard Schiff), Missing Persons cops looking for Lydia too, have taken to following him. Gordon Rimmer (Aaron Douglas), the self-proclaimed leader of the super secret society, has sent beaters after Dirk too. And oh yeah, “holistic assassin” Bart Churlish (Fiona Dourif) and her friendly little hostage Ken (Mpho Koaho), are hunting Dirk Gently for inexplicable reasons too. Meanwhile, the former bodyguard of Lydia’s father, Farah Black (Jade Eshte), is looking for Dirk because she thinks he’ll know how to find Lydia and what might have befallen her. Also the Rowdy 3, a gang of guys with some kind of psychic abilities that the government has been trying to study (along with others, like Dirk himself) are out and about, ready to give spiritual and sometimes physical beatdowns to those who need it the most!

The show itself is incredibly zany, with plenty of nailed British-style cheek, and often tongue-in-cheek humor that, even when put into context with some kind of “okay, maybe that makes sense” explanation, is so wacky one just has to laugh at it. Or scream. Todd sometimes does both, in that memorable Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins turning into his own Gollum style. Fiona Dourif is the daughter of Brad Dourif, known for his own unique style of acting, and she brings the legacy of her fathers distinct madness to the role. Seeing Aaron Douglas as several noticeably different characters in one body is a rare treat. And while the iffy science may not always make sense, like another enduringly famous BBC show, the formation of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency at the end of season one makes the whole weird, wild and wonderful ride one worth taking!

Go back in time with Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Season One on BBC America!

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