I’ve yet to read the Dirk Gently books. I did read The Salmon of Doubt, which is the book Douglas Adams was writing when he died. It gets to chapter 11 then stops and you’re left with the imposing inevitability that it’ll never be completed. Ever. I’m also currently reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy to my 6 year old son. We’re both enjoying it and it’s revitalised my interest in Adams’ novels.
When I saw that Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency had been created for Netflix, I knew I had to give it a watch, but this isn’t a review on the programme. I will say, though, that there are reports that it’s not based on any novels. If you want to watch it for that, you’ll be disappointed. The programme is very well written. It stars mostly relatively unknown actors with the exception of Elijah Wood as Dirk’s suffering and reluctant assistant Todd. Elijah is arguably most famous for his role in Lord of the Rings as Frodo Baggins.
Then there’s Julian McMahon who – if you’re unfamiliar with the name – has had a long and flourishing career. He’s starred in Nip/Tuck and also played Dr. Doom in the 2005 Fantastic Four. As a digression, Fiona Dourif (daughter of Brad Dourif; also famous from Lord of the Rings as Wormtongue) plays a fantastic role as Bart Curlish; a seemingly unkillable assassin.
It’s McMahon’s role I noticed more than anything. He plays two characters in the programme. He’s the main focus of the crime as his character is the one who was killed that Dirk has to investigate. He also turns up in episode 7 – Weaponised Soul – as Zackariah Webb and the armour he’s wearing is incredible.
Steampunk Knight armour
The picture at the top of the article is taken from the episode page on IMDb. The rest were taken of my television screen at home, so the quality is nowhere near as good. It does show the armour in more scenes though. Such as when Webb increases the volts and sends out a lightning storm to stop multiple opponents.
The steampunk knight armour is a mixture of medieval plate, chain mail and brass. The helmet looks like a cross between Darth Vader and the front of a Steam Locomotice with a cow scoop. One of the eyes is a large clock while the other has small magnifiers. A well known accessory to steampunk goggles. The visor is automatic and can be raised and lowered without command, it seems. The chest plate has another clock fitted to it and is a mish mash of brass, steel and leather. His backpack seems to have a dual purpose. It provides the power for the pistols which seem to be pneumatic. It also houses the power for the lightning storm weapon.
The right arm (at least) has a steam hose for blasting hot steam into the face of a close range attacker. It works in a similar way to how Spider-Man flicks his wrist to sling a web.
Special mention should also go to Zackariah Webb’s 19th century laboratory. It’s a steampunk paradise of indistrial lighting, chalkboards with schematics, clocks, dials, electricity and wires.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is worth a watch regardless of whether you’re a fan of Douglas Adams or not. It doesn’t follow any novel and isn’t as complex, but that has been argued that it wouldn’t transcribe to television very well anyway. It does have a very complex storyline though. Not too complex that you can’t follow it, but enough to make you smile as you see it all coming together.
You can read about the programme and find out things about it on the IMDb page here: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency IMDb page