Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Dirk Gently TV series pilot, my review

I'm one of those Douglas Adams fans who always thought that Dirk Gently would be a great TV series. In a world dominated by insipid detective shows, Dirk Gently would be like a breath of fresh air.

Dirk Gently is a fascinating detective who believes in "the fundamental interconnectedness of all things" to solve the whole crime, and find the whole person. He's a dishonest, but poor, sod whose most regular income comes from the old and lonely women who are looking desperately for their cats. But even if he's a failure, Dirk Gently has certainly a kind of panache.

As you know Dirk Gently appeared in two and a half novels. Some would believe than a pilot would be based on the first book but…. no.

The screen writer Howard Overman (who created the rather good « Misfits » but also wrote for the not so good TV shows « Merlin » and « Hotel Babylon ») has chosen a different path. The TV pilot has its
fair amount of veiled messages to the books and mainly the first one (Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency). Yes, Richard Mac Duff, Susan and Gordon Way are all here. But they are not really what they are in the book.

OK, Gordon way is a millionaire, but he doesn't meet his end thanks to an electric monk's erratic behavior (there is no monk, some of the characters lives in Monk Street and we see Dirk painting on a board where there is a kind of a plot involving an electric monk and Coleridge – wait it rings a bell !). Gordon is deeply in love with Susan (who is not his sister). Richard MacDuff is not Susan's brother
neither. In fact he is also love with Susan. He is her long time boyfriend since the university. Oh and they all were student in the same college. Sadly for them, Dirk was there too.

The story involves murders, cats, a time machine, tea and a exquisite old lady. So yes, it's a Dirk Gently story. But is it a good one?

MMhh, yes. In fact I quite enjoyed that TV pilot. Of course Stephen Mangan is not the Dirk Gently you would have chosen at first sight. But he's quite good as a self confident, tricky and dishonest
detective who uses others (the poor Richard McDuff who is a stooge, and Janice, the secretary - who first quits before coming back, too afraid he doesn't even care).

The only one to mock him is Susan.  But she isn't absolutely right about him. She knows he's a crook, but not that he is a genius in his own right.

The plot is enjoyable, there are some good gags, and the realization is dynamic, even if some could think there's a lot of talking and not so much that make really sense (but that’s very Douglas Adamsy, isn’t it ?).

Of course there are a few weakness : the characters are just sketched out (Gordon, Gilks and Janice are truly ghost-like) , the plot has its faults (come on, an iPhone battery that will still work 15 years later - it's even less realistic than a time machine!), the realization doesn't avoid some (quite fashionable) flashy effects (that will look old in a few years) - presumably to hide the effects of a tight budget
- and even at least one obvious goof (the half full then quite empty beer glass when Dirk and Richard take a sip of beer in a pub).

But what are these few weak points, when you enjoy so much a TV pilot that could really become a great TV series. Give some depth to the characters, create a few tricky plots, give more money to the
production, then you'll be able to create a classic.

TV productions can be such a bore. Give Dirk a chance!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dirk Gently, the 16th december on BBC4 : watch the trailer

Dirk Gently, the TV series pilot, will be broadcast the 16th december at 9 PM. This TV adaptation has been written by Howard Overman and stars Stephen Mangan as Dirk Gently, Helen Baxendale & Darren Boyd.

Here is a nice preview from the folks at : "Happily, the Beeb’s new Dirk Gently will have most viewers' laughing gear moving in the right directions. It's succinct at one-hour long, has a fine cast and is a good production all round, with a jaunty Sixties-tinged, crime-movie score.... There are some nice sight gags, but most of all Adams's absurd, imaginative humour comes through nicely as the conventions of crime fiction are playfully tweaked (much credit should go to writer and Bafta-winner Howard Overman). Where Sherlock Holmes deduces, Dirk Gently reduces the universe's chaos to a unified theory of guilt."

If you cant' wait for the broadcast, you can join the event on facebook here

You can also watch the trailer here on youtube

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, this year's book for Vancouver

Vancouver is a froody place. "The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy" was chosen by Vancouver residents as the book the whole city should read this fall.

"This year's One Book, One Vancouver winning book was chosen by Vancouver residents. For three weeks in June, Vancouverites voted online and at the Library's 21 branches for the book they think we should all read this fall.
The choices were: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie or The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
And in a vote closer than the hairs on the head of a ravenous bugblatter beast of Traal, you chose Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy! "
 Vancouver's public library is organizing several events from the 1st September to the 20th November. The book will be brought to life for audiences around the city through an array of fun events and contests, including writing workshops, a film screening, a high-tech Innovation Expo and a Vogon Poetry Slam! 
(thanks to daveh for the info)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy 42day!!

Today is the 42day. An event which won't happen again before one hundred years. So this is a very special day you don't want to miss.

42day has of course it's own website where you'll get all the informations you want and need.

Wherever you live, there is probably a 42 event somewhere, or if there is not, create one! Here are the list of the main events which will happen today : 42day around the world.
The Twitter Tag for the event is #42day

42 day is also on Facebook.

Note : to celebrate the 42day, my website domain name is down ( because i wanted to change my webhosting provider. I got mixed up and now it's a mess. So please use till i've solved the issue

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dirk Gently TV series : Lead actors revealed

As you know, a TV production of Dirk Gently is currently being filmed for BBC4 as one off which should be broadcast during this winter. If this one off is a success, then Dirk Gently could become a TV series. Argh, fingers crossed!!

Now some major casting news have been revealed.  Most importantly, Stephen Mangan is Dirk Gently. Mangan has already played a major comic character Adrian Mole in "Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years" (2001). He also played in other british TV series as "Free agents" and "Never better".

Darren Boyd plays Richard Macduff (a young software engineer working for WayForward Technologies that Dirk met in the first DG book and who would be something like Dirk's sidekick in the tv series). Darren Doyle is also known for his parts in some british tv series as Steve Coogan's "Saxondale", "Green Wing" and "Whites".

Helen Baxendale is playing Richard’s girlfriend Susan. She played in Cold Feet, and already played with Sptehn Mangan in "Adrian Mole : the cappuccino years" where she played Adrian's first love, Pandora. She also played in Friends (the part of Emily during 14 episodes in seasons 4 and 5).

Jason Watkins is Detective sergent Gilks. He played previously in at least two excellent british TV series : "Being Human" and "The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle"

Janice Pearce (Dirk's secretary) is played by Lisa Jackson (walking the dead, bright young things).

Dirk Gently is produced by ITV Studios in association with The Welded Tandem Picture Company and will be directed by Damon Thomas ("The First Men In the Moon", "Crooked House"), written by Howard Overman ("Misfits", "Merlin", "Vexed"), and produced by Chris Carey (here is his twitter account). Saurabh Kakkar is Executive Producer for ITV Studios and Eleanor Moran and Jamie Laurenson are Executive Producers for BBC.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The DNA & H2G2 memorabilia page on facebook

I've just opened a page on facebook for all the Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy fans who want to share their memorabilia with others. Post the pics there and give us details about your rare DNA & H2G2 stuff.

We're not trekkies or Elvis Presley fans, H2G2 and DNA memorabilia is not massive, but there a are of course a lot of collectible, rare and unique stuff, and after years of collecting stuff, i thought it would be nice to share with other fans.

After all, our motto is Share and enjoy, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Dirk Gently TV series based on new stories

Well, we knew that you couldn't base an entire TV series on just two books (and the first chapters of a third one) but even the 60 minutes long TV pilot won't be a straight adaptation of the books as SFX releals in an exclusive interview with writer Howard Overman.

“I’m aware that it’s a bit of a poison chalice... What I did was take the character, Dirk Gently, and his detection method, and write a new story. It has elements from the book, obviously, in it, but it’s kind of a different story. Because if you’ve ever read the book, the story in there isn’t really adaptable for TV. Especially not on the budget we’ve been made to do it on, because it involves an alien planet and all sorts of weird and wacky ideas."

So will it be an understated adaptation with just a bit of Douglas Adams (Dirk Gently and his quirky and weird methods) and a more traditional (and less costly) detective story ?  Well we certainly hope that this Dirk Gently adatpation won't be too classic even if doesn't involve an alien planet!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dirk Gently TV series on BBC4 this winter!

At last! This is the great news we were all waiting for since Hitchcon 09 where Ed Victor, Douglas Adams' agent, told us that there was a Dirk Gently TV series project under consideration at the BBC.

The news came from an article on the 24th august about BBC Four's new season : "Dirk Gently, the bumbling detective creation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams, will come alive on the screen for the first time in a mystery that stems from his attempted rescue of a cat from an old lady's house." 

 Then, the day after, published an article with some more informations : "BBC4 will also dramatise Adams's 1987 novel about anti-hero Dirk Gently next year. Adams was writing a third Dirk Gently book, The Salmon of Doubt, at the time of his death in 2001.The books have formed the basis of a play and a BBC Radio 4 series but have never before been filmed for TV. ITV Studios is shooting a one-off pilot for BBC4, adapted by Misfits creator Howard Overman."

 James Thrift, Douglas Adams' brother, wrote on the DAC forum, that "I (too) had reservations, until I saw the script. Good feeling about this one."

Many thanks to DaveH from the ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha fan club for this incredible news.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mostly Harmless issue 115 sent to ZZ9 members

A few weeks ago, I received my copie of Mostly Harmless issue 115. As usual there are some nice articles so here is a list of all the good things you miss if you're not a member of ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha :

- First you really want to read "History of the kamikaze briefing sketch" by David Haddock. The Kamikaze sketch is a famous sketch co-written by Douglas Adams and Chris Keightley and performed for the first time at the 1976 Footlights production "A kick in the stalls" which was directed by Douglas Adams. David Haddock interviewed Chris Keightley so we've got a detailed and nice article on the subject.

- There is also the second part of the interview with Eoin Colfer (by John Coxon). Here, Colfer talks about his writing for Hitchhiker "I did have to dense myself a bit, you know, put more jokes per page), the quintessential phase ("I just didn't want to listen to that, I just didn't want to get confused"), the writing of the catch-up ("can you imagine trying to put Hitchhiker's in two pages?" and the writing of the ending of the book.
-  A mixed and detailed review of "And another thing" by Lidia Dockray.
-  A nice hitchcon report by Keira Vallejo  and an Islington slouch (Super Saturday tour) report by me (well a large chunk is missing but it should be printed again in the next issue of Mostly Harmless).
- The towel corner

There is also details about The Year of the Plank. 2010 has been designated "the Year of the Plank" with the aim being to raise enough money to dedicate a plank on Brighon Pier to Douglas Adams (I'll try to write an other blog post about this because it's a nice project).

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Exclusive interview with Eoin Colfer

Here is a exclusive 20 minutes long interview with Eoin Colfer about "And Another thing", the sixth part of "The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy" (H2G2). It was recorded in Paris the 12th march. I hope you will enjoy it.

Eoin Colfer about "And Another Thing" H2G2 6
envoyé par nbotti. - Films courts et animations.

'The Doctor and Douglas' on Radio 4 the 2nd april

 The documentary 'The Doctor and Douglas' will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 11:00 on Friday 2nd April. The host is John Culshaw and the interviewees are: Steven Moffat, Lalla Ward, Nev Fountain, Frank Halford, David Fisher, Anthony Read, Michael Hayes and John Lloyd.

Now you can listen to the documentary on the BBCiplayer.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Douglas Adams Portal

I've launched a new Douglas Adams & H2G2 Portal with links to articles, websites, pages, videos, interviews,... 

You are welcome to propose your own links. 

My aim is to create a directory where you will be able to find all the interesting links about Douglas Adams & his work.

Monday, March 8, 2010

An upcoming "I was Douglas Adams' flatmate" book?

In 2006, The comedy writer Jon Canter fondly recalled how his accidental role as faithful servant to Douglas Adams and a host of other amusing chaps inspired his first novel. ... alaxy.html

Jon Canter was also interviewed by Andrew McGibbon about the experience on BBC Radio 4, 16 Dec 2008, 11:30. You can still listen to the interview here : ... flat-mate/

At the begining of 2010, a strange book appeared on which would be published on august 2010 "I Was Douglas Adams' Flatmate" by Andrew McGibbon ... 910&sr=8-1

I quickly got in touch with Faber & Faber regarding the upcoming book. Here is their answer :

"It is due to be published February 2011. The whole book doesn’t focus on just Douglas Adams; it’s more of a compendium of ‘significant others’ to celebrities."

So it's more a companion book to the radio4 series 'I was..." which featured "i was douglas adams flatmate". I suspect that the title won't be "I was douglas adams flatmate" then but it should be an interesting read nevertheless.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Exclusive interview with Rod Lord!!

Rod Lord is the genius who made the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy TV gaphics! You can read an exclusive interview on my website (also illustrated with rare pictures) :

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Original items from TV series graphics on ebay : Gargle Blaster package

Rod Lord, the genius who made the computer graphics, has put on ebay some original artwork and you really shouldn't miss it. End of auction : 17 Jan, 2010

"H2G2_ AW_003 : Gargle Blaster package

This package is made up of :

1 - The photographic lith film that was back-lit under the rostrum camera.
2 - The rostrum camera set-up key that has the rostrum track calibrations stuck on it.
3 - The camera dope sheet in Rod Lord's hand writing.

This will come with an accompanying authenticating letter and description embossed withthe Pearce Studios Ltd seal.

I will sign each item - including the letter of course !

This is the first item I came to in the first box I opened. The hand writing on the camera key and dope sheet is definitely mine but my memory does not deliver who designed this and put together the original black on clear from which the camera artwork was made. This may be somewhere among the huge quantity of stuff in one of the other boxes - if I stumble across it at some point I will make that available.

It is entirely possible that Kevin Davies did this. Kev - if this is so you'll get a %age of whatever this raises ... if anything !

Kevin very probably did the dark room work, registered it with punched 35mm film, and did the black paint spotting on the film.

I'm vaguely surprised that the calibrations on the tape from the camera track stuck onto the key do not show farings or "easing in and out". That would normally have been the practice.

But perhaps it was decided that a sudden start and finish looked more "electronic".

Who did the camera work ? Who knows ? Could have been me - or Kevin - or John Percy? To determine that we would need to still have the camera sheet which went with the can to Rank's film labs for processing. Sadly that is long lost with all the other camera sheets from that time.

I will continue to dig my way gradually through the pile and list on eBay anything that looks viable - ie not just wadges of lith film welded together !"

The auction is here 

UPDATE : the item was sold 120,00 GPB

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What to expect in 2010?

In 2009, we got a fast-paced year with the 30th years anniversary of the first book and the publication of “And another thing”, both celebrated with Hitchcon 09, which was the biggest hitchhiker event for a long time.  We were lucky enough also to enjoy the publication of a sequel to  “Last chance to see”  with a new book and  a BBC TV series thanks to Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine.

So what can we expect in 2010? Well I probably forgot some events and I will edit the post if necessary but there are just two events listed right now :

- Thursday March 11th.  Eighth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture. Marcus du Sautoy, the mathematician, Oxford professor and host of BBC TV series "The Story of Maths", talking about 42

- "The Doctor and Douglas", a radio documentary about Douglas Adams and Doctor Who (see previous news) in March or April.

What we could hope for :

- The official announcement of a Dirk Gently TV series (at Hitchcon 09,  Douglas Adams agent Ed Victor have confirmed that talks are now in progress with the BBC about a TV-show based on the Dirk Gently novels).

- The announcement of a radio adaptation of "And another thing" by Dirk Maggs (this would be a great idea even if you don’t like Colfer's book).

- “Hitchhiker live” (as seen at the Hitchcon) could become a real show touring across the UK – and why not the world???

- Well, I don’t know if it’s a hope or a fear here, but maybe Penguin will announce a new Hitchhiker book by Eoin Colfer or another writer (Colfer said it would be a great idea to ask some other writers to pen Hitchhiker books – he said Iain Banks, Neil Gaiman and M Atwood could do it). But were the sale figures of “And another thing” that impressive? I don’t think so. And the readers’ reactions to Colfer effort were not that enthusiastic (even if I was not against the project in the first place, I must admit that my  own copy gather dust on my bookshelves, my bookmark stuck on page 190).

- Disney won’t make a second movie,  so it would be cool if they return the rights of Hitchhiker, so we can have again some new stuff and big projects in the Hitchhiker universe (plays, TV series, a second movie but not produced by Disney). Let’s remember that for all the Hitchhiker events in the recent years (the new radio series, Hitchhiker live,…),  there is a big discussion with Disney lawyers.

- ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha (the official H2G2 and Douglas Adams fan club) announces that they will organize their own Hitchcon in 2011 (come on dear ZZ9, you now you want it!)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Upcoming Douglas Adams & DrWho doc on Radio4

Simon Barnard of Wise Buddah productions is currently working on a documentary "The Doctor and Douglas" about Douglas Adams and his relationship with Doctor Who. It should be broadcast in March/April on BBC Radio 4.

He will probably talk to most of the people who worked with him on Who, but also other figures from Douglas Adams' life including his former teacher Frank Halford