Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is set to premiere on BBC America before reaching Netflix streamers by the end of 2016. As evidenced by the show’s title, which is exactly the same as the first of two Dirk Gently novels, the new adaptation will adhere more to the source material than the short-lived first Dirk Gently series.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency creator Max Landis is understandably excited to reveal his new project, but stops short of calling it an “improvement” upon the last show. He has had enough experience writing movies like Chronicle and Victor Frankenstein that filmmaking is a complicated process and it’s unfair to the makers of prior works to try to improve upon them. Landis has now given his own ideas of how different Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency will be from the original.
Speaking exclusively to Screen Rant at the New York Comic-Con, a very animated Landis rattled off a number of references to previous movies and TV adaptations that Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency could cite as influences. He made a comparison, somewhat ambitiously, to Game of Thrones, while also referring to Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon’s nonlinear detective novel that was adapted for the big screen by Paul Thomas Anderson:
“It’s kind of like if The Big Lebowski was written by [Dirk Gently author] Douglas Adams. … On its best day I’d say it’s that, and even on its worst day, it’s like if Inherent Vice was Doctor Who. That’s the tone, that’s the vibe, those are the references I’ve stuck to. … It’s structured like Game of Thrones, where you’re following an incredible amount of disparate characters. … Dirk and [his assistant] Todd are the main characters of the show, though you wouldn’t necessarily know that by episode five.”
Landis’ Doctor Who name-drop suggests that Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency will have more science fiction elements than the first Dirk Gently, which operated more like a “quirky detective show” along the lines of Psych and Monk. As he put it:
“The quirky detective element happens because the main character is a psychic who can see connections that no one else can see and covers this with a lie about being able to follow interconnected-ness. … Our goal was to do something a little truer to the genre of the books than the previous show. Not an ‘improvement,’ just something more different and closer to the books.”
Whether or not it actually improves upon the previous series, if the Comic-Con trailer is any indication, then Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency will have quite a different structure and feel to it than the first series. Fans who had hoped for a more faithful adaptation of the books have to be excited for what’s to come with the new series, which promises a sprawling world of characters and narrative threads with plenty of interesting connections between episodes. The format of the new show is also conducive to that of a Netflix series that releases a full season all at once; allowing viewers to digest the world as a whole, rather than each episode having its own self-contained story and characters.
It’s clear that Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency will be truer to Adams’ novels than the previous incarnation, but it’s still going to need to fashion the books into compelling narratives to keep viewers interested. The success of the show could come down to the coherence of the interconnected plots and performances of the actors to hook viewers in better than the original series did. But, as Landis explained, he was simply going for something different from the original, not necessarily better, and it already appears that he may have succeeded at making just that.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency premieres on BBC America on Oct. 22, 2016, with a Netflix premiere expected in December.