Before watching the new series of Dirk Gently I rewatched the pilot, which looks even more flawless on revisiting: it’s intricate, funny, moving, and captures the whimsy of Adams’ character and ideas without slavishly adhering to (entirely unfilmable) plot. It only puts a foot wrong once, and that’s with Dirk’s account of Schrödinger’s cat getting bored of being poisoned and escaping from the box, an idea lifted more or less directly from the book, but in this case with Richard apparently ignorant of quantum theory and crucially therefore unable to call out Dirk’s apparent appropriation of the thought experiment as an anecdote
My most immediate issue with Episode 1 of the series was the lack of lovely Baxendale. I had expected Baxendale. I had counted on there being Baxendale. Even though I was sure I’d read she’d been involved in the filming, now I began to doubt that she would even be in it again. There was no reassurance until the “next time” trailer and to some degree that marred my enjoyment.
But perhaps the real issue I had (after the lack of Baxendale) was the… possibleness of the plot. Dirk disregarded Holmes’ methodology (“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”) preferring not to discount the impossible. But there was nothing impossible here: no time machines, ghosts, electric monks or gods walking the Earth. Instead we got conspiracy theories. Boring.
I’m also not too sure about the Gently/MacDuff relationship yet. Much was made of the one-upmanship in this episode (eg. the chair) but this was unsubtle compared to Dirk duelling with his cleaner over his fridge in the book. Given his status as her employer, he was the one being played by her. In the books, Dirk is rarely an agent of action, more a passenger (albeit with a unique insight into interconnectedness). That’s the whole point of Zen driving.
Having said all that, I’m still enjoying the show hugely. I had hoped and expected Howard Overman would write the series, but this will be his only episode for this series. I suppose with more Misfits and Vexed in the works, something has to give (there were even a couple of episodes in the last series of Misfits he didn’t write). Most of all, though, I’m hugely enjoying Stephen Mangan’s Dirk. It’s an inspired piece of casting, and as long as he’s in the role, I hope they keep making more and more.