I watched this on the recommendation of a colleague. It consists of eight 45-minute episodes, for a total of six hours, and tells a interestingly convoluted story involving time travel, body-swapping, a hippie cult and the FBI.
I thought it was sort of OK. I suspect I would have liked it rather more if it wasn’t called Dirk Gently, because it has very nearly nothing at all to do with the Douglas Adams books that it is supposedly based on.
Most importantly, the character named Dirk Gently is not Dirk Gently — not even close. Portrayed by Samuel Barnett (on the right in the photo above), he is young, thin, gangly, self-consciously wacky and conspicuously devoid of a hat. But as Adams tells us:
He was rounder than the average undergraduate and wore more hats. That is to say, there was just the one hat which he habitually wore, but he wore it with a passion that was rare in one so young. The hat was dark red and round, with a very flat brim [… and he wore] a large and flappy leather coat,
So he looks completely wrong, and is much too young. Far more importantly, he doesn’t do any holistic detecting. The Dirk of the books is unconventional, but at root a detective. He thinks hard about his cases. He works out what is going on. He’s actively clever, if perhaps not quite so clever as he thinks. Whereas TV Dirk has no idea what’s happening, and his “holistic” approach is just to let things happen to him.
None of this is helped by Barnett’s portrayal, which is a collection of tics and self-conscious eccentricities along the line that we might expect if he’d had Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor described to him, but never actually seen him. It quickly becomes tiresome to watch.
So what we have is a character who is not Dirk Gently, who by the way doesn’t have a detective agency, and who does no detecting. Naming the show Dirk Gently’s Detective Agency makes exactly as much sense as calling the lead character Basil Fawlty and naming it Fawlty Towers.
And all of this was completely unnecessary because, considered on its own terms and not in the light of its much weightier source material, DGHDA is a perfectly pleasant time-travelling body-swapping comedy drama. I just wish the makers had had the guts to let it stand on its own feet.