Dirk Gently

I’m a big fan of Douglas Adams. After reading the Hitchhiker’s series, I consumed all of his articles and opinion pieces with great relish. But I could never get into the Dirk Gently series, never even made it through the first book.

Now, however, there’s this wonderful new series from BBC America, created by Max Landis and starring Elijah Wood and Samuel Barnett. As I said, I’ve never read the books but I understand that it was nearly untranslatable to the screen. Apparently, Landis added Elijah Wood’s character to fix that problem and what he’s come up with is great television.

Dirk Gently is a classic Douglas Adams story rife with cosmic coincidence and Gently is a perfect Douglas Adams protagonist, even more clueless than Arthur Dent.  The writing is sharp and the pacing is perfect. Landis has come up with a visual language that is perfect for Douglas Adams’ bizarre sense of humor.

Samuel Barnett plays Dirk as a kind of cosmically aware toddler. Which is perfect for a man who cannot know anything because the universe places him in the path of the things he needs to know.

Elijah Wood provides the necessary drag on Dirk’s bottomless enthusiasm and if it’s true that his character, Todd, was created to make the story work, I think it was a stroke of brilliance. Without Todd, everyone is a fucking weirdo and that’s just too much fucking weirdness.

There’s a part at the end of Larry Niven’s Ringworld where the nominal protagonists discuss the possibility that the only reason they’ve been through all these crazy adventures was so that the girl who tagged along with them could meet her one true love. It’s a nutty theory but one that would fit perfectly in Adams’ world.

I’m only three episodes in but it’s become one of my favorite shows. Highly recommended.

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