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.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.