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