Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

Dirk Gently – Episode 2

March 24, 2012 by Nicholas

Dirk Gently, as previously stated, is a tv series based on the works of the late Douglas Adams. It’s passably entertaining and mildly amusing. It isn’t much watch tv and is by no means unmissable, but it is considerably better than most things that I see (which is damning it with faint praise, really). The second episode sees Gently returning to his old university at his mentor’s behest to act as security consultant and ends up investigating two related crimes in his own eccentric manner.

Gently comes across as more egocentric and selfish, to my mind, in this episode: his every action is couched in terms relating to himself and one of the pivotal plot moments relates to challenging his preconceptions about events that relate solely to him. When he fails to stop the first crime it is because he is engaged in a selfish act. The second crime he then sees in terms of his own failure and how it reflects upon him and how it disadvantages him. I know this is an attempt to round out his character and show his vulnerabilities, but it makes him less appealing and part of his appeal has to be he is likeable in order to get away with some of the things he does.

Arguably of greater concern to the episode is the fact that the twist ending is so obvious. When something draws so strongly on the mystery structure then the underlying mystery needs to be good or you need to subvert it in an interesting and funny way. Unfortunately, this does neither: it has charm and some amusing moments, but it is too slight to get away with such a fundamental underlying flaw and the only real surprise is a minor plot point that serves as a tangential explanation of the twist rather than anything more complicated. Coupling a weak twist, flawed structure with some revelations about the lead character that make him less appealing this makes for less rewarding viewing and the suggestion that the series doesn’t really have legs when it is divorced from its source material. The mystery is solved in a fairly pedestrian manner and it is only the physical impossibility of the explanation that actually makes this anything other than a routine procedural storyline.

I like the series enough to hope this is an aberration, as with Sherlock having the weakest episodes as the middle of each series. If it proves to be the norm I think I will stop bothering to watch it.