[personal profile] nemorathwald
I finally watched the 2012 4-episode BBC series which adapted "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" and "The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul", by the author of "The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy".

This is a science-fiction comedy about a fast-talking con man. He peddles self-serving conspiracy theories, but each time, his scheme is foiled when he turns out to be accidentally correct. He really is psychic; he can perform real hypnosis; it's really aliens. Ghosts. The Illuminati. He'd get rich, if only he could come up with a lie so outre that it doesn't turn out to be true.

As a private detective, Dirk is not a genius-- at least in the conventional sense. When everyone else is satisfied with the surface appearance of a solved crime, Dirk saves the day with his stubborn insistence that any explanation of the whole crime is incomplete until it is a bizarre tangle of circumstantial evidence. Every coincidence in the universe is connected by threads of cause and effect. Following the threads will lead to the same conclusion every time: yet another dubious rationalization to give Dirk money.

I adore how this franchise parodies the absurd scenarios in every detective mystery. The second thing it parodies is the hero-worship glorification of "Sherlock". Both shows concern a obnoxious private detective in London with a straight-arrow partner. And yet, in "Dirk Gently", the writers do not fawn over their protagonist. No one comes crawling back to Dirk. No one in Dirk's life begrudgingly respects him. No one even pays him. No one loves him. Except, I guess, me. :)

Expectations are low for television adaptations of beloved books. To my surprise, I enjoyed every moment of this series. Part of the appeal of the novels was a convoluted plot which rewards multiple readings, revealing ingenious levels of interconnection, foreshadowing, and big ideas. That was impossible to directly convert to episodic format, so the elements of the story were extracted individually, then rearranged to be more accessible. But the show-runners understood the appeal of the source material and successfully channeled its spirit. Bravo!
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