A kitten. A corgi. Two kidnap victims. Some white-supremacist-looking dudes. A holistic detective. A holistic assassin. These are only a few of the strange threads that wove their way around the first episode of BBC America’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, which aired at New York Comic Con. It was…surreal. And funny. And a bit bloody.
Writer Max Landis was deliberate in his anarchy. When he was approached to write the script, he told himself, “I’m not going to to do just the tip. I’m going to go full weird.”
The story begins with protagonist Todd, a hotel bellhop with financial woes, getting a glimpse of himself dressed in outlandish clothing, before encountering a murder scene. As a person of suspicion, he’s soon fired. He encounters Dirk Gently — a man who says everything and nothing at the same time — who tells him he’s somehow involved in a mystery.
The cast of the show agreed that the strangeness of the script is what drew them to the project. Mpho Koaho, who plays a kidnap victim named Ken, said, “I thought [writer Landis] was kind of a nut bag at first.” He was okay with that. “I’m a bit of a nut bag myself.”
Hannah Marks, who plays Todd’s sister Amanda, a young woman stricken with a painful disease, says, “Max is one of the few writers that’s good at writing everything. Some are really good at story and some are good at characters, and Max is good at all of it.”
Samuel Barnett, who plays the holistic detective, said about Dirk, “He’s really weird. After a season, I haven’t pinned him down. I think it’s impossible the to pin him down. That’s the way he’s written.”
Barnett plays him as slightly mad, vaguely compassionate, with a dash of vulnerability. Landis does offer one bit of insight into the wacky former Svlad Cjelli: “The character gets more and more vulnerable as the series goes.”
We’re looking forward to seeing it, especially after the wild ride that was episode one — which will be airing on BBC America on October 22.
What we’re likely to not see: In the fabulous Douglas Adams books, Dirk wore a fez. Even though Dirk was written in 1987, Matt Smith kind of laid claim on the fez in 2010, when he appeared in Doctor Who.
Of course as the late great Adams was the script editor of Doctor Who, the Eleventh Doctor's the fez could have been a homage.