The phrase, “Nothing is ever as it seems”, has never been more true when it comes to, “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.” Based on the novel series (by Douglas Adams) of the same name and co-produced by the, BBC America and Netflix, DGHDA, is one hell of a ride.
The title character, Dirk Gently (Sam Barnett), is a self-proclaimed Holistic detective. What is a holistic detective, you ask? In this case it means a detective that follows fate and the interconnectedness of literally everything to solve cases. Still with me? Good, because that’s about as clear as things get when it comes to this show. Don’t worry, that’s a good thing.
Todd Brotzman, is Dirk’s very reluctant assistant, and is played by one of my personal favorites, Elijah Wood. Todd, is like most people in that he doesn’t believe in fate or the universe constantly trying to guide us. He’s a realist and has little patience for Dirk’s seemingly whacky shenanigans. Sherlock and Watson, these two are not, but that doesn’t seem to stop them from finding a way to solve the many mysteries swirling around them.
Dirk, comes into Todd’s life at a particularly bad time. He’s working a crap job, he lives in a crap apartment, he’s broke, depressed and in knots over his sister who suffers from a serious crippling mental illness. I won’t spoil it by telling you what illness she suffers from is, but like many things about this show, it’s something you’ve never seen before. From the moment Dirk enters his life, unannounced, unwanted and determined to make Todd his assistant, everything goes horribly wrong. What little Todd has he loses and the reality he’s taken for granted his entire life is compromised by several impossible occurrences that leave him scared, battered and confused. The only common denominator in all of it is of course, Dirk Gently. So yeah, the partnership gets off to a really rough start.
Even though there are a few different storylines with equally compelling characters, I wouldn’t go so far as to call this an ensemble show. Yet. Every storyline is in service to Dirk and Todd’s journey further emphasizing the interconnectedness of the universe, which is at the heart of what this show is about. That being said, there are some really special performances from, Hannah Marks (Amanda Brotzman), Fiona Dourif (Bart Curlish), Neil Brown Jr. (Detective Estevez) and Richard Schiff (Detective Zimmerfield).
A magnet for all things weird and strange, Dirk’s activities draw attention far and wide. And the joke of it is, Dirk, himself has NO idea what any of the strange and weird things mean until they collide with other random strange and weird things. He’s like a pinball, bouncing off of one thing and another until finally, he is shot into a hidden slot that illuminates everything for a brief moment and then swoosh! He’s back to bouncing off the walls again. And poor, Todd! He does everything he can to put distance between him and Dirk, but nothing works and eventually even he must concede that Dirk is right: Everything IS connected.
If you don’t mind stretching your reality to accept some of the crazy this show comes up with, I can promise you will have a fun ride. The show isn’t all twists and turns, there is some real heart in the characters which really helps to humanize them while putting their individual journeys into perspective. Season 2 is currently airing and all I can say so far is, they’ve managed to amp the crazy and I am living for it. The first scene had a literal scissor fight. I’m not joking and it was awesome.
S2 airs on the BBC America, Saturday nights. S1 can be streamed on Netflix.
UPDATE: Sadly, the show has since been cancelled.