Dirk Gently

Created by Douglas Adams (1952-2001)

THAT Dougkas Adams? The guy with the BBC show and the Vogons and the towels and the three-armed Betelgeusians?

Yup, that Douglas Adams.

So now he's writing about trenchcoats, fedoras, smoky jazz, and femmes fatales?

Well, no.

Even in an era of maverick and increasingly non-traditional PI's, DIRK GENTLY defies description. He's the shabby proprietor of a "Holistic Detective Agency", and his main tools include logic, illogic, coincidence, leaps of faith, his unshakeable belief in the interconnectedness of things, and what I can only describe as contrarian psychic powers. Thus armed, he finds missing cats, explains mysteriously exploding airline counters, does the occasional bit of legwork on behalf of pagan deities, and, oh yes, with the aid of sidekick Richard Macduff, saves the human race from extinction every now and then. (His greatest contribution to Western civilization, or at least to English lit majors, is that he manages to find an actual explanation of Coleridge's "Kubla Khan." I really wish I'd caught up with these books before I finished college.

The books' plots, such as they are, are fun--but as ever, Adams' true strength lies in his digressive and hilarious riffs on, well, just about everything. If you want actual linear plot movement, this probably isn't the place to look. They're well worth a search, though, if you're after a refreshing change of pace from traditional P.I. fare.

POSTSCRIPT

Author Douglas Adams died unexpectedly in 2001, but the legend lives on. In 2002 there was a new Adams collection called The Salmon Of Doubt, which featured (among other things) a story fragment that's the beginning of a third (and now-never-to-be-completed) Dirk Gently novel. This story fragment (from which the collection takes its title) relates a case in which Dirk becomes certain he's been hired by a client who:

  1. Never met Dirk,
  2. Never contacted Dirk, and
  3. Left no instructions on how to proceed with whatever it is that he (or she) wants Dirk to do.

This makes Dirk's investigation a trifle complicated, but the semi-intrepid Gently has never been one to let a few odd circumstances get in the way of his holistic detecting...

Sadly, just as the loopy narrative seems to be taking off, it comes to an abrupt halt. Adams fans will want to check it out, of course, but newcomers will probably get more bang for their buck by checking out Adams' other works first. (That's my opinion, anyway....)

POST-POSTSCRIPT

In 2010, the producers of the BBC's acclaimed Sherlock (a sly revising of Doyle's great detective) decided to "do" Adams' holistic private eye. The result may be a little skimpy on the deeper philosophical insights of the novels, but they sure nail the freewheeling goofiness, having great fun with the characters. Try imagining Sherlock as run through the Monty Python meat grinder and you're almost there. Alas, they only made three episoes.

POST-POST-POSTSCRIPT

2015-16 saw a serious expansion of the Dirkiverse.

IDW Comics launched a string of mini-series, dispatching our man Gently to such exotic locales as San Diego, Africa and his own past. Presumably he brought his own towels.

But the on-going comic series was just the first salvo, and was soon followed by a stage play and another TV series, this one starring Samuel Barnett as Dirk, with Elijah Wood as his reluctant assistant Todd.

EVIDENCE

  • "It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression 'As pretty as an airport.'"

-- opening, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

NOVELS

  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987) ..Buy this book
  • The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988) ..Buy this book
  • The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time (2002) ..Buy this book

RADIO

  • DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY
    (2007, BBC Radio 4)
    Based on the novel by Douglas Adams
    Written by Dirk Maggs and John Langdon
    Directed by
    Dirk Maggs
    Produced by Dirk Maggs and Jo Wheeler
    Premiered
    October 3, 2007
    6 30-minute episodes
    Starring Harry Enfield as DIRK GENTLY
    Also starring Billy Boyd, Olivia Colman, Jim Carter, Andrew Sachs, Felicity Montagu, Robert Duncan, Toby Longworth, Michael Fenton Stevens, Andrew Secombe, Jeffrey Holland, Wayne Forester, Tamsin Heatley

Originally intended to be three series of six episodes each and was to include adaptations of The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul and the unfinished The Salmon of Doubt, but Dirk Maggs parted company with the production company, and the project was never completed.

TELEVISION

  • DIRK GENTLY
    aka "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency"
    ..Buy the series on DVD
    (2010, BBC4)
    Pilot
    60 minutes
    Based on characters created by Douglas Adams
    Teleplay by Damon Thomas
    Starring Stephen Mangan as Dirk Gently
    and Darren Boyd as Richard Macduff
    Also starring Helen Baxendale, Jason Watkins, Doreen Mantle

The pilot was included in the Series One DVD set.

  • DIRK GENTLY
    (aka "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency")
    ..Buy the series on DVD
    (2012, BBC4)
    3 episodes
    60 minutes
    Based on characters created by Douglas Adams
    Teleplay by Damon Thomas
    Directed by Tom Shankland
    Starring Stephen Mangan as Dirk Gently
    and Darren Boyd as Richard Macduff
    Also starring Helen Baxendale, Jason Watkins, Doreen Mantle, Lisa Jackson, Bill Paterson, Neil Grant

  • "Episode 1" (March 5, 2012)
  • "Episode 2" (March 12, 2012)
  • "Episode 3" (March 19, 2012)

  • DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY.. Buy on DVD. .Buy on Blu-Ray
    (2016, BBC America)
    8 episodes
    60 minutes
    Based on characters created by Douglas Adams
    Developed for television by Max Landis
    Writters: Max Landis, Andrew Black
    Directors: Paco Cabezas, Michael Patrick Jann, Dean Pairisot, Tamra Davis
    Starring Samuel Barnett as DIRK GENTLY
    and Elijah Wood as Todd Brotzman
    Also starring Hannah Marks, Dustin Milligan, Michael Eklund, Richard Schiff, Fiona Dourif, Aaron Douglas, Miguel Sandoval
  • Season One
  • "Horizons" (October 22, 2016)
  • "Lost & Found" (October 29, 2016)
  • "Rogue Wall Enthusiasts" (November 5, 2016)
  • "Watkin" (November 12, 2016)
  • "Very Erectus" (November 19, 2016)
  • "Fix Everything" (November 5, 2016)
  • "Weaponized Soul" (December 3, 2016)
  • "Episode Eight" (November 10, 2016)

  • Season Two
  • "Space Rabbit" (October 14, 2017)
  • "Fans Of Wet Circles" (October 21, 2017)

COMICS

  • DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY:
    THE INTERCONNECTEDENESS OF ALL KINGS
    (2015, IDW)
    Five issues
    Based on characters created by Douglas Adams
    Written by Chris Ryall
    Art by Tony Atkins

  • DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY:
    A SPOON TOO SHORT
    (2016, IDW)
    Five issues
    Based on characters created by Douglas Adams
    Written by Arvind Ethan David
    Art by Ilias Kyriazis

  • DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY:
    THE SALMON OF DOUBT
    (2016, IDW)
    Five issues
    Based on characters created by Douglas Adams
    Written by Chris Ryall
    Art by Tony Atkins

COMIC BOOK COLLECTIONS & GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY:
    THE INTERCONNECTEDENESS OF ALL KINGS
    ...Buy the book
    (2016, IDW)

  • DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY:
    A SPOON TOO SHORT
    ...Buy the book
    (2016, IDW)

  • DIRK GENTLY'S BIG HOLISTIC GRAPHIC NOVEL... Buy this book
    (2016, IDW)

Rounds up the first two stand-alone series, "The Interconnectedness of All Kings," and "A Spoon Too Short." Plus a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the BBC America show.

  • DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY:
    THE SALMON OF DOUBT
    (2016, IDW)

PLAYS

  • DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY ...Buy the play
    (2016)
    Based on the novel by Douglas Adams
    Written by James Goss and Arvind Ethan

So far apparently unproduced, but available to read and perform worldwide.

Respectfully submitted by Victoria Esposito-Shea, with additional info supplied by Kevin Burton Smith. Postscript by Rudyard Kennedy.


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