Dirk Gently: Series 1 – Final Review

A couple of weeks back, on the strength of a year-old pilot and one episode, I wrote a pretty glowing write-up for Dirk Gently, the loose Douglas Adams adaptation on BBC4. Last night, the all-too-short run came to an end with the third and final episode, in which Dirk found himself on the trail of an actual serial killer.

So, did the whole thing live up to that first one? Or was it as disappointing as the man himself?

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Well, it’s still one of my favourite things recently. The slightly haphazard, mocking approach to the detective genre pleases me greatly, giving a bit of gentle ribbing to shows like Sherlock. But I must admit, the first episode was still best.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed watching the last two episodes, I just didn’t find them as engaging. The second one felt too straight, which made the ridiculous elements harder to swallow, and conversely, the third one presented itself with a plot that would work nicely as a more serious series finale, and then proceeded to undercut it at every turn.

There’s balance somewhere in the middle, and I felt they didn’t quite hit it. Still much better than most things on television, it’s just that the pilot and first episode of Dirk Gently were beautifully done, balancing serious and ludicrous with admirable dexterity, and the last two didn’t quite keep the plates spinning.

Credits-hawks might note that series creator (and Misfits overlord) Howard Overman didn’t write the two episodes in question, which might be the issue.

Still, we did see a rare example of Dirk both being moderately competent and not a complete arsehole in the second one, which is probably needed, and although the comic relief was a bit heavy in the third, it was still funny. They also got Helen Baxendale back in as Macduff’s wife, which is never bad news, and the leads themselves are still great in their parts.

So despite a little grousing, Dirk Gently is a slick, engaging addition to the quirky detective show genre, and I’d like to see more of it. So, y’know, still give it a go.

You can see all three episodes of Dirk Gently on iPlayer for a short while. More details on the official BBC site.

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