TV Review: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (USA, 2016) first season is too mad to miss

Among the landscape of the dark and ever-grim golden age of TV, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency deserves to be called nothing short of a caper. Based on the books by Douglas Adams (which I regretfully have not read) and brought to life by showrunner Max Landis, the series is a riff on the classic trope of a brilliant British detective and a reluctant sidekick solving the unsolvable.

Of course, Dirk Gently isn’t your usual detective. Dirk (Samuel Barnett) doesn’t believe in searching for evidence, talking to witnesses or doing any of the things detectives usually do. He believes that if the universe wants him to solve a crime, it’ll bring the answers to him regardless.

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While the series might bear Dirk’s name, Elijah Wood‘s Todd is a much stronger contender for its central figure. His continued skepticism and defiance towards becoming Dirk’s assistant makes for a fun contrast to the detective’s simultaneous faith and complete failure to comprehend the universe.

As for the rest of the cast, the competing teams of law enforcement agents investigating Dirk providing some comic relief and Fiona Dourif’s holistic assassin provides a relentlessly fun parallel to the titular detective. The cast is nicely rounded out by Jade Eshete and Mpho Koaho, who bring a surprising amount of character to their roles while Aaron Douglas goes refreshingly over the top as the series’ villain.

As we said in our first impressions of the show, Dirk Gently has a lot of strange going for it.You get everything from possessed cats, post-apocalyptic gangsters and even a hint of time travel within the first episode alone. Safe to say, our initial assessment of the series as one of the strangest detective stories to ever grace the small screen remains intact.

Thankfully, as the series goes on, it invests less in its gimmicky premise and more in the relationships and mythology that underpins it. The relatively-short season length of eight episodes works well, allowing each episode to build on what’s come before in substantial ways and avoid becoming mired in what is a very mucky central investigation plot line.

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That said, the first season of the show isn’t without its share of problems. It occasionally leans a little too heavily on Dirk’s quirkiness to an obnoxious degree. However, regardless of these niggles the show still manages to stand out as refreshing – even among the onslaught of shows looking to accomplish the same.

It’s funny, stylish and sure to pique your curiosity – regardless of whether you’re familiar with the source material. It’s simply too mad to miss.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The first season of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is streaming on Netflix now.