Third-episode verdict: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 3

In the US: Saturdays, 9/8c, BBC America
In the UK: Netflix. To be made available December 11

Dirk Gently is still odd. Dirk Gently? Only a little.

Following in the footsteps of BBC Four, BBC America’s adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency isn’t really an adaptation at all, more a continuation, in which Dirk is relocated to the US where he and hapless new sidekick Elijah Wood have to investigate the weird death of rich guy Julian McMahon, who’s killed in a hotel room by a shark – and who predicted he would be, months before his own death.

The first episode simply went from odd, inexplicable thing after odd, inexplicable thing, all seemingly unconnected, but in actuality laying out the clues that would all come together later on. Naturally, that’s meant the subsequent two episodes have both been about tying everything together and explaining what’s so important about a particular corgie, why there’s such a thing as a holistic assassin randomly murdering people and why a missing girl is holed up with Chief Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica. And by episode three it all seems to be coming together quite well – squint and you can see what’s going on – while still adding on the occasional new bit of odd.

Now, on the one hand, this is all divorced from the book(s), following none of their events. On the other, it’s got direct lifts from the books that have been altered to reflect more American concerns, with (third episode spoiler alert) time machines being built into basements of old houses rather than old Cambridge colleges, more familial elements, the CIA (of course) and – oh the horror! – an unnecessary origin story of sorts evolving for Dirk himself. 

What it definitely still is is bonkers, offering something that is as close to an American equivalent of a Douglas Adams story as I can remember. It’s not blessed by his genius when it comes to original ideas or comedy, but it comes reasonably close to a decent emulation and is actually pretty clever.

This new Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency isn’t must-see TV by a long-chalk and Samuel Barnett is only just about tolerable as this new incarnation of Dirk. But it’s better than the BBC Four version, closer in spirit to the books and is more imaginative. If you fancy believing six impossible things before breakfast, give it a whirl. 

Barrometer rating: 3
Would it be better with a female lead? Yes. Or Richard Schiff
TMINE’s prediction: Might well get a second season, but Netflix will get the final say.


  • 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.