Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is something rather special. Taken from the other great work of Douglas Adams (the first being The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy), Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency follows the adventures of a man who solves impossible crimes by using an entirely holistic approach, i.e – he believes that all things are fundamentally interconnected, and so in order to solve a murder he may go water-skiing, or have a nap, or go on holiday to the Canary Islands.
Firmly believing that there would be some worth relevant to the investigation in performing random acts because of the aforementioned holistic nature of the Universe. Amazingly, this invariably works and of course, it shouldn’t, but Dirk seems to be a probability nexus.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency has some very strange, seemingly random events and things are presented to him, and it seems that the Universe is demanding answers. Half the time he has no idea what’s going on, but he earnestly wants to help and so early on in the first episode he decides that a man he’s just met is his assistant.
Todd Brotzman (played by Elijah Wood of LOTR fame) is a bell-boy in a hotel. Instructed to check on the occupant of the penthouse suite, he is naturally greatly disturbed when the lift he is in stops for a moment on a middle floor and he sees himself (with a big black eye and wearing a fluffy pink bomber jacket, but still) talking excitedly to someone out of view.
He is then even more disturbed to find the occupants of the penthouse suite dead, graphically ripped to pieces by some kind of large animal. Todd staggers away from the scene and meets Dirk (played with a weird nervous energy by Samuel Barnett), they have a, frankly, bizarre exchange and Dirk then latches on to Todd, declaring him to be his new assistant. The game, as they say, is afoot.
They pick up another helper shortly thereafter in the form of the dead mans bodyguard, (not present when he was killed) Farah Black (played by the heavenly Jade Eshete. Honestly, folks, this lady is painfully beautiful and gives me the most intense envy I have ever experienced) who is determined to solve the murder, and also to find the victims kidnapped daughter. These three form the core group throughout the first and second series.
Seems pretty odd, doesn’t it? Tip of the iceberg. Quite apart from the actual investigation into the strange murder, in which a fair few people have someone else’s soul in their bodies, there’s this whole host of other weirdness going on in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency including some of these highlights:
- Todd’s sister suffers from a congenital condition, Pararibulitis (not real), a nerve disorder that creates intensely painful hallucinations in the sufferer. Todd has been lying about suffering from the same condition for years, and then he gets it too (most likely due to the intense stress of being associated with Dirk).
- Dirk was a subject of a secret government project, ‘Blackwing’ that held people with unusual abilities captive. There were originally 42 inmates, some of which have subsequently escaped and are at large.
- There are three violent punk guys driving around in a sinister van that is known as the ‘Rowdy Three’. They eat the emotional energy of people, like psychic vampires. They are previous Blackwing subjects.
- Bart: Without any shadow of a doubt the best character in anything I’ve ever seen, bar none. I’m not joking, Fiona Dourif plays Bart so perfectly it is an absolute joy to behold. She’s a terrifying, homicidal, deranged, fearless, and nearly invincible ‘holistic assassin’. She’s kind of the anti-Dirk, a causality psychic like him but whereas he feels compelled to help people, she is drawn towards people who kill or endanger others, and she feels a second nature urge to eliminate them, which she can do with startling ease. Bart doesn’t determine who she kills or when and how she kills them. It’s all instinctual. But for all that, she is vulnerable, very lonely and emotionally frail. She’s also very funny, and another Blackwing escapee.
The whole aesthetic of the show is fantastic also, from the innate style of the characters dress sense to the quirky idiom of the set designs. The dialogue is razor-sharp, witty, urbane, and joyous.
There is so much going on in every episode, in fact, that you have no real chance of working out what’s going on ahead of time, and you are left thinking that there’s just no way that all the disparate pieces could possibly be made to form a coherent whole. The genius of the show, though, is that they do. Everything is interconnected, and when the threads come together you see that they do indeed form a beautiful tapestry. Max Landis, the creator, and writer has made a masterpiece.
The second series of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, amazingly, is even more insane.
All in all, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a dazzling gem of originality and bravery in a sea of also-rans and mediocrity. The threads of series one of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency are artfully woven into the fabric of season two, and one feels that there is so much more that could be done with the material. Which makes it a crying shame, for me an outright travesty, that the show from BBC America has been canceled after only two seasons.
I am bitterness personified. Still and all, there are eighteen exquisite episodes of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency to delight and confuse you available right now on Netflix, perhaps we can start a petition or something asking for more? What do you think?