I just finished watching a very different kind of detective series, one that flies in the face of traditional logic and deduction. Who needs means, motive and opportunity? Not Dirk Gently that’s for sure. The proprietor of a holistic detective agency, Mr. Gently’s methods might be considered a tad unorthodox. He purports to conduct his investigations based on his belief in the interconnectedness of all things, the principles of quantum mechanics and my favorite technique, Zen navigation. Basically whenever you’re lost just follow someone who looks as though they know where they’re going and they’ll lead you to the place you need to be.
Starring Stephen Mangan as Dirk and Darren Boyd as his more rational business partner/sidekick Richard MacDuff, this quirky BBC Four series entertained and enlightened me. (I found episode two to be particularly clever.) So without further ado, here are the lessons I learned from watching Dirk Gently.
1. Douglas Adams wrote about more than outer space travel and aliens – I’m embarrassed to admit that while I have read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and seen the film adaptation, I knew nothing of Adams’ detective novels. There are certainly sci-fi elements to the Dirk Gently stories, time travel and artificial intelligence among them, but at least as far as the TV adaptation is concerned there are no bureaucratic Vogons or depressed robots.
2. I discovered what a saveloy is and where you might buy one – In episode two, Dirk meets a peckish young woman who orders a veritable fish feast from the local chippy. At the last minute she adds a saveloy to her list of takeaway items. Statistically speaking there aren’t a whole lot of words I come across these days that I’ve never heard before. “Saveloy” is one of them.
According to Wikipedia, a saveloy is “a type of highly seasoned sausage usually bright red in color, which is typically available in British fish and chip shops, sometimes fried in batter.” Yum?
3. There is a particular type of music that makes people think of eccentric British detectives – Listen for yourself and tell me there isn’t a bit of a similarity between the two tunes. I think it has something to do with the unique sound of that hybrid synthesizer/zither instrument.
4. There is actually a model of British car called a Princess – A detective’s vehicle is an extension of the man himself, a symbol of his stealth, success and confidence. And no car is a greater indicator of those qualities than a temperamental, 30 year old Austin Leyland Princess.
5. Gently makes for a very good detective’s name – Although in the novels, the reader is told that Dirk Gently is a pseudonym for Svld Cjelli.
Dirk or Svld? Genius or conman? That’s for you to decide. You can visit Mr. Gently’s holistic detective agency on YouTube, Amazon Instant Video and Region 2 DVD.