Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: Season One

This review contains mild spoilers, but not big plot twists.

I hadn’t even planned on watching this show after reading a review that said that this series was so complicated and bizarre, that it’s not really worth the effort to watch it. Boy, were they wrong. It’s definitely worth the effort and things do become clearer as the story progresses. I found myself not caring if I didn’t understand who everyone was and what they were doing at first. I just went along for the ride and enjoyed every minute of this unique series.

I’m not the biggest fan of Elijah Wood’s character, Todd. He spends about half of the first season trying to get away from Dirk Gently and he’s often not very nice to Dirk. I can see, though, that Todd is under a lot of stress. He doesn’t have a great job or a lot of money, but he does what he can to help his sister, Amanda. Todd can be a jerk at times, but he does become a much nicer person by the end of the season, so I’ll probably enjoy him more in season two.

I love Samuel Barnett as Dirk Gently. He has this great spastic energy and he makes every line he utters memorable. I love watching his facial expressions while he is talking, though come to think of it – all of his body language is fun to watch. Dirk’s the reason that I kept watching, but the relationship that he develops with Todd, by the end, is also wonderful.

Now, if you had told me that besides Dirk – that my favorite characters of this series were going to be Bart and Ken… I wouldn’t have believed it. Bart is played by Fiona Dourif (Brad Dourif’s daughter) and she is amazing. I got strong Helena (Orphan Black) vibes off her character – and that’s a compliment. Bart is a holistic assassin. She kills whoever the universe wants her to kill. If she needs to eat – food just comes to her, she’s also never stayed in a hotel room, and she can’t get hurt. She was raised with others like her and it’s all that she’s ever known. She seems very alone and quite innocent, despite her blood-soaked life. It’s a good thing when she runs across Ken (Mpho Koaho), who’s just a guy trying to make a living by doing some work for shady characters. Ken’s afraid of Bart, at first, but then their relationship becomes a highlight of the series. Ken’s such a great character and following his journey through these first eight episodes is a real treat.

Don't worry, we do have pants on.
Todd has a sister, Amanda (Hannah Marks), who has a disease that runs through their family. It’s a fictional malady, fortunately, because it’s horrible. Her nerves betray her, all the time. She’s really perfectly fine, but she will feel like she’s on fire, drowning, being stabbed, or something equally terrible – without warning. Todd has a secret that he will share with her that will damage their bond, hopefully not irreparably. I like Amanda. She and Todd make a very good brother/sister duo.

Jade Eshete plays Farah Black, who is trying to find Lydia Spring, the daughter of her late employer. Farah’s a great character, also. She’s pretty tough, but also worried that she’s not good enough to do what needs to be done to find Lydia. She does spend the first few episodes kind of tied up, but when ass-kicking needs to be done, she’s there.

These characters chase each other through time and space, all the while dealing with a diverse bunch of good and/or bad guys. I'm confused at times by the sheer number of people who seem to be spying, investigating, or just plain stalking our heroes. They are Gordon, The Rowdy Three, missing person detectives, trigger-happy Sgt. Friedman, Men of the Machine, FBI guys, and members of a shadowy government agency that seem to know Dirk and Bart. I did get more of a sense of who was who on my second viewing, but this show’s so much fun that it doesn’t really matter, anyway. Just go with it. I loved my first viewing regardless of the murky mayhem.

I’m not even going to attempt to describe what the show is actually about. I’ll just tell you my favorite parts:

Alison Thornton’s adorable as Lydia and as her alter ego – I enjoy both portrayals.

Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol on Battlestar Galactica) makes Gordon an interesting character. Gordon really wants his dog, Rapunzel, to come back to him. He chases Dirk, the machine, and his dog, with equal determination. I do get tired of the funny voice that he's using, sometimes.

The missing persons detectives, Zimmerfield and Estevez, are trying to find Lydia Spring and who killed her father, Patrick. I enjoy these two, but Estevez is a bit of a hot-head. I keep wishing that he would stop yelling and calm down so that someone could explain to him what he wants to know.

Patrick Spring’s an enigma. After two viewings, I’m still not sure what he did and what happened when, in this whole mess. I do appreciate the fact that a few times the characters tell someone else (and therefore us) what is going on. Plus, "this whole mess" is marvelous fun.

There’s a kitten that’s really a "weaponized soul" and a Corgi who almost steal the show from Dirk. Anytime that those two little fluff-balls appear on screen – that's a good time.

There are three Supernatural alums in this series: Ty Olsen, Kavan Smith, and Osric Chau. It’s always fun when I can count the number of actors that I know from my favorite show. Dirk Gently is also filmed in Vancouver, just like Supernatural.

One of my favorite episodes involves a maze of death, featuring a magic lightbulb, that Dirk and Todd must navigate through. Just when you think that this series cannot get any stranger – they must solve the clues to survive said maze. Genius.

Favorite Quote:
Todd:  "Dirk, this is my apartment!"
Dirk:  "Oh, is that why you are here?"

There’s a great scene featuring the kitten in Patrick Spring's hotel room that gets repeated, and examined, from different times. The concept of time traveling and characters interacting with themselves is very well done. I won’t describe what the machine is, or the ways that it travels in time… because spoilers, you know. (Also, I probably couldn’t explain it if I tried.)

I love it when Dirk and Bart finally meet. Talk about fates colliding, sheesh.

I’m happy for Dirk when Todd finally becomes a true friend. Dirk’s so alone and he does have to deal with some tough things. I also love the scene in the diner when everyone thinks that everything’s finally over and they can plan their futures. That's just lovely and I get a little teary there, for a minute.

That’s not the end, though. Big twists ahead and now I’m really excited for season two which premieres in a few weeks. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine join the cast – I can’t wait.

In summary, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is now one of my favorite shows. It’s surprisingly emotional and more layered than it appears at first. The characters have depth and vast potential. There’s a secret project’s past to explore and the mysteries of the universe to unravel. There’s also time travel and soul swapping. Plus, I’d follow Dirk, anywhere. I love that guy and his multi-colored dreamcoats.

You guessed it - Mallena loves Dirk Gently.

2 comments:

magritte said...

Thanks for the review--it's such a difficult show to describe but I think you manage to get something of the feel of it across. I also enjoyed it, though (as a Douglas Adams fan), I understand why some of the fanbase don't like it at all, which made me a little hesitant to watch the show. It reminds me a little of Twelve Monkeys in that the premise of the series is almost diametrically opposed to the premise of the original work.

The Dirk Gently of the book is essentially a con artist. What the series has done has taken the book character's snake oil and turned it into something real and fascinating. The characters are so outlandish and the situations so creatively bizarre it won me over.

Mallena said...

I don't know the books, so I had no preconceived notions to worry about, except that the early reviews were not good. Personally I'm glad that Dirk is portrayed the way he is, Samuel has so much energy that's it's just fun to watch. I tend to like the younger Doctor Whos, as well.

I love the TV version of 12 Monkeys just the way it is, so I don't mind change as long as it's done well. I used to think that making Starbuck a girl on BSG was a bad idea, until I saw how great Katee Sackoff was in the role. Now, I can't even imagine that series any other way, even though I loved the original Apollo and Starbuck, back in the 70's.