Mini-review: Dirk Gently 1×1

A pale shadow of the books

Dirk Gently

In the UK: Mondays, 9pm, BBC4. Available on the iPlayer

I’m not sure this is worth a full-on review, so innovation time! It’s a mini-review. Staggering hey? That’s how imaginative I am.

Now there was obviously a pilot to this, based on the Dirk Gently books by Douglas Adams, and when I micro-reviewed it c. Christmas 2010, this is what I said:

Very disappointing, given it was based on a Douglas Adams character and written by the creator of Misfits. A pilot for a series, rather than a straight adaptation of any of the books, it changed all the characters and made them less interesting, and strip-mined the books for anything that could be achieved on a budget of 50p and wasn’t too fantasy/sci-fi. Only the last 10 minutes was in any way interesting.

And we’re pretty much there for the series proper. Even moving on from the fact that this isn’t Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently but a different Dirk in his own right, so that we can judge the show on its own terms, this still isn’t a particularly funny or entertaining programme. There are a few good ideas struggling to get out, mostly inherited from the books (and it turns out that there were still a few things that could be strip-mined from those, such as the strangely accurate horoscopes); there were some original, mildly entertaining concepts, too, that actually fit right in with Adams’ thinking.

But it’s still not as good as it could or should be, especially given Howard Overton’s presence on the scripts and Stephen Mangan and Darren Boyd in front of the camera. There wasn’t much laughter, action or anything. It was just sort of ‘there’. This first episode was also missing Helen Baxendale, which didn’t help, but at least she’s in next week’s. And Darren Boyd was effectively reduced to Doctor Who assistant level – and I’m talking Nyssa or Harry here, not Rose.

So I’ll forgive you if you watch it – I might watch next week’s episode, too – but don’t be expecting to do much other than see Mangan and Boyd do their level best to make something funny that just isn’t.

  • Andy

    I found the whole series of Dirk Gently entertaining. Two superb actors make and excellent plots. Please please please make another series

  • The next two episodes were a lot better – episode 2, episode 3

  • Ms M

    I loved it! (like the books more but hey..) Please please BBC, make more!!!

  • Wakey19

    I could not disagree more with the reviewer.� Having just watched all four episodes, and having read and re-read the Dirk Gently books (along with everything else Douglas Adams), I think the show is fantastic!� The writers have done a great job of capturing the essence of the characters and Adams' dry, cosmic sense of humor, while balancing this against the needs and strictures of working within a one-hour TV show format.� What do you expect them to do?� Do you think it is possible to take�the mental images you created in your mind while reading, transport them magically onto film and then�create a�word-for-word script directly from the book that actually works?� People who compare a TV show to a book they love will always be disappointed until they realize their expectations need to change.� Please television gods, let this program continue.� We don't need another Firefly on our hands.

  • “What do you expect them to do?”

    1) Funny
    2) Well written
    3) Tonally similar to the books

    But the last two episodes were good.

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