Dirk Gently returns in March

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    No set date yet, but it seems likely that it’ll be Sunday, March 4th; no idea if BBC America will be carrying it, since it’s an exceedingly short season even by BBC standards (3 episodes). [LINK]

    In this, the first of three episodes, Douglas Adams’ private detective discovers the connection between two unrelated cases: a client who believes the Pentagon are trying to kill him and another whose horoscopes appear to be coming true. When the mysteries collide, Dirk is the only man for the job.

    Stephen Mangan plays Dirk, Darren Boyd plays Macduff, Jason Watkins plays DI Gilks, Lisa Jackson plays Janice, Paul Ritter plays Oliver, Cosima Shaw plays Emma, Ken Collard plays Matthew, Colin McFarlane plays Terrence and Miranda Raison plays Kate.


    Apparently Dirk Gently won’t be back after its three-episode season, and the show’s composer blames Rupert Murdoch [LINK]…

    I’ve got to ask, have you heard about whether there’ll be another series of Dirk Gently?

    No. I hope so. Everyone on this show… it’s a team like I have had no experienced of on TV for so long. Everybody loves working on it. Everybody pulls together. Everyone is working with no money – tiny budgets – but pushing it as far as they can. Calling in every favour. Everyone from the actors – Stephen Mangan is a massive, massive Douglas Adams nut and he cares about Adams’s legacy – down to the producers and the directors and the writers and me. We all really, really care about Dirk and we all 100% want there to be more Dirk.

    That, unfortunately, is in the hands now of nonsense BBC politics because thanks to Rupert Murdoch leaning on Cameron and resulting in the BBC licence being heavily cut, that meant BBC Four lost its drama budget.

    And you know, I work on a lot of the shows that come back and I’m not that fussed. This show I really, really want it to come back.

    Since that interview appeared, Stephen Mangan posted on Twitter [LINK]:

    Stephen Mangan ‏@StephenMangan
    It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to report that the BBC have decided not to make any more #DirkGently.

    Murdoch has had it in for the BBC and the television license fee for years; his angle of attack is that the BBC shouldn’t have an unfair advantage over the UK networks that rely on advertising. Of course, I kind of read that as “I really want the BBC to have to struggle like the rest of us instead of being in a position to take creative chances and come up with neat highbrow stuff that makes my lowest-common-denominator talent-show/reality teevee crap look a hell of a lot less interesting.”

    I think they could’ve bought themselves a handy escape hatch if they’d fast-tracked the existing episodes to the US via PBS or BBCA, and ridden the Douglas Adams connection hard in the promos. Most Americans, even SF fans and Douglas Adams fans, still don’t realize that this was even a (short) series.


    So… Dirk Gently gets another crack at TV, though I’ll be terribly surprised if the BBC cast is involved. [LINK]

    San Diego, CA (August 4, 2014) – IDW Entertainment (“IDWE”) and Ideate Media announced today they have optioned the worldwide rights to Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency novels. IDWE and Ideate have formed a partnership to co-fund development and co-produce with the intent of securing a direct-to-series commitment. Circle of Confusion will Executive Produce.

    Max Landis has been tapped to write the pilot and Executive Produce. Max is the writer of feature films Chronicle, upcoming American Ultra starring Kirsten Stewart & Jesse Eisenberg, and upcoming Frankenstein starring Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy. Max will also make his directorial debut with the comedy Me, Him, Her starring Haley Joel Osment and Geena Davis in 2015.

    After creating the phenomenon that was The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams went on to write a series of best-selling novels about Dirk Gently, a detective with a belief in the fundamental interconnectedness of all things, a unique relationship with the laws of probability and physics, and a love of cats and pizza.

    Ted Adams and David Ozer from IDW Entertainment, Arvind Ethan David and Zainir Aminullah of Ideate, and David Alpert and Rick Jacobs from Circle of Confusion (The Walking Dead) will serve as executive producers.

    “Max is one of Hollywood’s most brilliant writers and represents the ideal voice in bringing Dirk Gently to television”, said David Ozer, President of IDW Entertainment.

    Arvind Ethan David, Head of Production and Development at Ideate Media, was a friend and protégé of Douglas Adams and brokered the deal with the estate. He commented: “As a student at Oxford, I directed and co-wrote a theatre adaptation of Dirk Gently. To my amazement, Douglas himself came to see the show – and he liked it and helped launch my career. Almost 20 years later, to return to Dirk, and to add the mad genius of Max Landis to the mad genius of Douglas Adams, is a dream come true and proof of what Douglas, (and Dirk), would describe as ‘the fundamental interconnectedness of all things’”.

    So what we’re probably looking at is an Americanized version. Not sure how I feel about that just yet.


    Here is the trailer for the new BBC America version of Dirk Gently.

    I try not to form snap judgements based on trailers, but I do NOT like this lead actor; compared to Stephen Mangan, he hits me as being too young, too smirky, too-obviously-in-on-the-gag. I really liked the cast of the 2010/2011 Dirk Gently series. 🙁


    Oh geez. This review makes me wonder if I should even bother. [LINK]

    Yes, the BBC America show premiering tonight is based on a book duology by Adams, who also created the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. But other than the basic concept—a “holistic detective” named Dirk who breezes around getting into weird situations and then ties all the threads together with a mixture of luck and intuition—this TV show has little in common with Adams’ work. The tone, in particular, is miles away from Adams’ absurd wit.

    In fact, the thing that stands out about the new show is how American it all is. In this version, Dirk Gently is the only British person in a U.S. city that’s full of Yank archetypes: snarky cops, tattooed cultists, badass bodyguards, creepy shut-ins, serial killers and stoners. Writer Max Landis (who wrote all eight episodes) has used Adams’ basic idea as a jumping-off point for something that feels more like it belongs in the same universe as John Dies at the End. If you don’t like one gonzo storyline about creepy kidnappers, indoor shark attacks or bizarre diseases, just wait a minute, and the show will be about something completely different. (Just as Adams’ books throw a slew of off-kilter ideas at the reader, so does Landis cram a billion subplots into every episode.)

    This wild spree mostly works on its own terms—as long as you don’t ever try to compare it to the work of the master.

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    I watched the Pilot of the new series and I must say I liked it. What carries the show is Elijah Wood’s performance more than anything else. The jury is still out for Samuel Barnett, however, as I felt his portrayal out of place (but that might be the director’s fault or I just don’t understand the character yet).

    Full disclosure: I never seen the earlier series and I have yet to read the novel (but I did watch “City of Death” and parts of Shada which inspired the novel) but I am familiar with the plot of the novel. Perhaps that is a good thing since it didn’t leave me with any expectations and I didn’t mentally compare this show with the other one while watching it.

    I do know the show is deviating significantly from the novel. You would expect Wood’s character to be Richard MacDuff but, instead, his name is Todd Brotzmann who starts out as a Bell Boy for a luxury hotel instead of a software engineer that MacDuff was. At his job Todd wears this old, out of place, bell boy outfit they could only have acquired by going back in time and stealing one from an 1890’s hotel. There is a cat in the show and it makes more than one appearance throughout the pilot. There are a number of new characters in the show so it looks like they are adding another layer of complexity to the original storyline. For example, there is a woman trapped in a room above Wood’s apartment, there is a “holisitc killer” on the loose and numerous government agencies (NSA,DEA, FBI, etc.) tracking Wood’s character wherever he goes.

    It is set in modern day San Francisco instead of 1980’s London so I’m sure a lot of people will object to that and how American the show is. I didn’t object but, then again, I’m a fan of Voyager, what do I know? The production values of the show are good and the writing is compelling and it keeps my interest. I don’t think ardent fans of the novel and the previous series will like the show as it changes too many things. However, anyone new to the series will like it.

    So, if you can let go of your expectations based on the novel or the previous TV show, I think you will enjoy it. If you can’t, then give the show a pass.

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    I did end up watching the series to the end and, like I said earlier, I liked it overall.

    I didn’t like the Gently character at first but he slowly wore me down. Part of that is I don’t think they did a good job introducing the character in the pilot. Perhaps they only had a rough idea of what the character was and the character got better as they fine tuned it with each new episode.

    Spoilers: The overall story arc was a classic “by his bootstraps” time travel story and, despite some early clues, you are not sure what is going on until you are at least a couple episodes into the series. Fortunately, once I got a clear idea of what is going on, the story moves quickly and you get a neat resolution tying up all the mysteries central to the main story arc.

    The backstory of the various characters like the “Rowdy 3” (which comprises of 4 guys), Bart Curlish (holistic assassin) and even Dirk is intriguing because they are all being tracked by this mysterious government agency that is connected to the U.S. military. There are hints that they were part of this experiment or some kind of event in the past but it is all very vague.

    Like I said before, if you came to this show expecting it to be like the novel, you will be disappointed. Pissed off, even. I wouldn’t say it is a re-imagining of the original. A more accurate statement is it cherry picks the characters and concepts the writers liked from the novels.

    Personally, I have issues with the novels. The point of the novels (to me, anyway) is to highlight the clever writing of Douglas Adams like the Hitchhikers novels did. However, I found that they paled in comparison to the HHGTTG novels: they weren’t nearly as cleverly written and a lot less interesting things happened in the Gently novels. The fact that the first novel derived from an episode of Doctor Who that he wrote makes me think he had seen better novel writing days behind him. I got bored and restless long before I got to the end of the Gently novels and it was only a sense of dedication and loyalty to the author that I continued reading them. In fact, in the first book, there was some action that was critical to resolving a major crisis in the plot and it was done offstage. Dirk comes back the others and described what he did. That was, well, boring. I’d rather see it first hand.

    The series has been renewed for another season. The first season ended with a cliff hanger where the evil government agency is on the verge of capturing (or has already captured) Dirk, the Rowdy 3 and the holistic killer. This cliffhanger promises to shine more light on the dark past of these characters and maybe a hint as to how they acquired their powers. Will they use plot elements from the second novel or the “Salmon of Doubt”? I don’t know but, if they do, I expect them to cherry pick what they liked just like they did in season one.

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