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Review: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency 1x1 (US: BBC America; UK: Netflix)

Posted on October 27, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Dirk Gently (BBC America/Netflix)

In the US: Saturdays, 9/8c, BBC America
In the UK: Will air on Netflix in December

Adaptations are a funny old thing, aren't they? Sometimes you find out more about the person - or country - doing the adaptation than about the original material.

Take Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, a Douglas Adams book written in the 1980s based on scripts he wrote for Doctor Who. It sees the eponymous chubby detective investigating Cambridge colleges, time machines, Electric Monks, the creation of human life and impossible sofas, all in the belief that everything is interconnected and that if he investigates one thing, no matter how seemingly unrelated, he'll end up solving the original mystery.

The story was adapted for BBC Four six years ago by Misfits' Howard Overton, spawning a TV series two years later. How much was it like the book? Not much, despite strip-mining all the good stuff from it, but it was very BBC Four, with bumbling English people and a budget of 50p.

Now we have Max Landis and BBC America's efforts, which are even less like the book, but do at least have a character of their own. A continuation of sorts to both Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and its follow-up, The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul (judging by the references to both sofas and Thor), it sees Dirk (Samuel Barnett) relocated to Seattle where he's hired to investigate the death of reclusive millionaire Julian McMahon (Charmed, Fantastic Four, Nip/Tuck, Hunters, Childhood's End)… by McMahon, six weeks before he's murdered.

One of the few witnesses to the murder is bellboy Elijah Wood (Wilfred, Lord of the Rings), who has his own problems with his drug dealer landlord, his hallucinating ill sister Hannah Marks (Necessary Roughness), a corgi, and the police who are following him, including Richard Schiff (The West Wing). But when Barnett breaks into Wood's apartment because it looks interesting, Barnett decides Wood is prime 'assistant' material and the two end up holistically intertwined.

It has to be said that the show is odd. Very odd. Very odd at odd moments. Just as everything looks like it's settled into one form of odd, a time traveller will appear, a holistic assassin will start macheting people at random, four guys in a van will start sucking someone's soul or bullets will richochet off a pipe and kill the kidnapper in the flat above. New odd is here - get used to it for the next five minutes because there'll be another one along in a minute. Ooh look, it's a musical number!

Which is both in keeping with Adams' writing yet simultaneously quite Landis (cf American Ultra). On top of that, there's an American quality to it all - Barnett is less a schlubby ne'er do well in a silly leather hat, more an American's idea of an eccentric Brit via Harry Potter. There's also a distinct air of 'improving one's self', with Wood's embracing of Barnett's holistic philosophy leading to his life becoming significantly better, and the familial side of things with Marks and Wood is almost heartwarming in an American stylee.

I'm not sure whether this Dirk Gently is a huge improvement over the previous one, though. Barnett's too young to really work as Gently - Schiff would have been perfect - and Wood is basically just doing the bamboozled sidekick routine he perfected in Wilfred. There was also never a point where I felt myself relax into the show enough to genuinely enjoy.

But it does at least feel a lot more like Dirk Gently, despite having nothing at all in common with the books beyond themes, it's full of what look like potentially interesting ideas and there's enough life in the supporting cast at least that it's worth watching for them.

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Preview: Preacher 1x1-1x3 (US: AMC; UK: Amazon Prime)

Posted on May 25, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Preacher

In the US: Sundays, 9pm (8c), AMC
In the UK: Episodes available on Amazon Prime the day after US airing

Maybe I just found Garth Ennis at the wrong time. Hellblazer had been one of my favourite comics at university, thanks to Jamie Delano's unique blend of horror, politics and a UK setting. When he left the title, I expected more of the same. Instead, I got Garth Ennis.

For many, Ennis was the best writer of John Constantine, combining horror with a knowing playfulness that undercut the action. For me, I was losing amoral tussles with hunger demons as a metaphor for Western consumption and Ethiopia in favour of tricks on the Devil involving transmuted holy water. Horses for courses, but Ennis was definitely not my 3.15 from Aintree.

That's probably why I never read Preacher, Ennis' magnum opus. Even to tell you what it was about, I'd have to look at Wikipedia. To a lot of comics fans, that's tantamount to not being able to explain the plot of Hamlet, but I don't care - Garth Ennis stole my student Constantine, wah, wah, it's not fair.

So is AMC's Preacherwritten and exec-produced by (of all people) Seth Rogen and his childhood pal Evan Goldberg, a faithful adaptation of this esteemed comic? Don't know and don't care, either. Ennis - pphhtt. Wah.

What I can tell you is that it stars Dominic Cooper (Captain America, Fleming) as the improbably named Texan, Jessie Custer, a bad-as-they-come criminal who returns to become the preacher in his home town when his father dies. Trouble is he's a very bad preacher who's not really convinced there is a God. Then one day, just as he's planning to give it all up and return to his bad, bad ways, he asks one last time for a sign from God of His existence… and, surprisingly, he receives it. And now, whenever he tells someone to do something, they do it - often more literally than Jessie intended. It's almost like the Preacher now speaks the very word of God.

And that's basically episode one, which you might have already seen. I've left out Tulip (Ruth Negga from Marvel's Agents of SHIELD), Jessie's former partner-in-crime, who's got 'one last job for him' and isn't going to take no for an answer. I've also left out Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun from This is England and Misfits), the century-old Irish vampire who's being chased by a group of religious fanatics. 

We can talk about them and the next two episodes after the jump.

Continue reading "Preview: Preacher 1x1-1x3 (US: AMC; UK: Amazon Prime)"

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News: Lucifer, Rosewood renewed; Marvel's Cloak & Dagger series; David Brent movie trailer + more

Posted on April 8, 2016 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Gilmore Girls revival

Film trailers

Internet TV

UK TV

US TV

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

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