Douglas Adams is one of those writers that never really gets enough credit here in America. His books are pretty popular, especially in the nerdy science fiction fan sub-culture, yet most here don’t know his name. I remember partaking in “bring a towel day” or somesuch when we went to see the Hollywood big budget version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and utterly baffled people. Its commonplace top see kids dressed up as vampires and Jedi out in front of the theater, but towels got us all weird looks and things like “did you guys just come back from the pool?”
Not too long ago, I was browsing around a Douglas Adams entry on Wikipedia, and noticed that BBC4 was going to air a pilot for a proposed TV show called Dirk Gently, obviously based on Adam’s own Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. I’ve actually never had a chance to read all of my copy of this book as it is included in a very large leather-bound edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide that I have. I do know that they have toned down the zaniness of the book a tad, and re-adapted it for TV. This is something that I’m fine with, as Adams was always adamant that his stories be changed around whenever they are re-made as TV shows, radio etc…
The story kicks off with an introduction to some of the eccentricities of Dirk Gently. We find him interviewing an older lady asking questions on a missing person that he will be looking for if he takes the case. He explains that he believes in the “fundamental interconnectedness of all things”, and that the bill he has footed her for a new refrigerator is definitely pertinent to the case at hand due to this. This is a great first look into the character as the TV writers have shown just how he operates. He is not only eccentric, but comes across as some sort of a con-man trying to prey on people that need him the most. We soon find out that the case is, in fact to find a missing cat rather than a person. A fitting case for this “poor man’s Sherlock Holmes”.
Bits and pieces of the original plot of the book are here, but a lot of side characters are left out. The overlying plot of this episode is actually only part of the full story. I can only hope that this gets picked up for a season and we get to see versions of characters such as “The Electric Monk”. They did downplay the science fiction elements to a large degree except for one really big thing that exists as the lynchpin of the whole case. I can’t spoil it too much as it would ruin the story!
The casting and location chosen for this production is very good for the budget at hand. One can tell with a scarce amount of special effects and long scenes of dialog that this is a very low budget affair, and yet it never really looks “cheap”. The few scenes we have that involve any CGI at all, namely a warehouse explosion. look pretty good. I’m really glad they didn’t go too crazy as other shows with a small budget, most notably Hyperdrive, try too hard to look “big budget” and end up looking like a student film because of the terrible CGI.
I can’t wait to see if this gets picked up for a full run, but even if it does not this would be a fitting addition to any Douglas Adams fan’s collection. Let’s just hope it get put out on DVD here at some point.
My Rating 4 out of 5