I’ve always been a huge fan of Douglas Adams so was excited when I saw Dirk Gently on the BBC 2 schedule, I hadn’t heard of any TV adaptation of Dirk Gently, Adams’ lesser known creation, and so was very pleasantly to find a funny, if not entirely faithful, interpretation starring Stephen Mangan. On further research I discovered that this adaptation is a pilot originally produced by and aired on BBC 4 at the end of last year and that, if commissioned, a further two sixty minute episodes will be made. I certainly hope it is.
Stephen Mangan perfectly captures the chaotic, eccentric and anarchic Gently and provided him with excellent comic timing. I thought he, like Martin Freeman in the film adaptation of The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, gave a performance which was very faithful to Adams’ original vision. However in the Hitchhiker’s Guide this didn’t fit with the rest of the film which had a distinctly Hollywood and un-British feeling (apart from Stepehen Fry and Marvin of course, both of whom I thoroughly enjoyed) Mangan, on the other hand, does not have this problem as the setting and supporting characters of Dirk Gently, although modernised, seemed to capture the essence of Douglas Adams’ original book just as well as the protagonist does.
As anyone who has read Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency or the sequel The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul will know, the story lines contain a certain brand of surrealism which would perhaps not lend itself to screen adaptation and as a result the plot has been parred down to the events of several central characters. Unfortunately the electric monk didn’t make the edit, though I did catch sight of the words “electric monk” written on Dirk’s white board.
This no substitute for the book, obviously, but it’s still a damn fine piece of telly and works perfectly as a stand alone piece too. Click here to watch it on iPlayer.