Alright. I’m not sure exactly how much I rant, but sometimes some things just really annoys me. The subject in question has been bugging me for a while now, even before I started this blog, I think.
My family and I are all great fans of the works of the late Mr. Douglas Adams, in particular The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (surprise, surprise). However, I find the books about the adventures of Dirk Gently a lot more hilarious and I enjoy them a lot more. Probably mainly because of my interest in detective stories, though mostly serious ones, like The Big Sleep. I also enjoy Film Noir, in particular the ones starring Humphrey Bogart (The Big Sleep, Casablanca). I have also let you in on the secret about my poorly written scripts.
So as you probably understood from reading the sentence where I said I enjoyed the Dirk Gently books, I enjoy the Dirk Gently books. A lot. In fact, some time ago last summer I was sort of hooked, which made me angry because there are only two books (unless you count The Salmon of Doubt). For the record, my favourite is the last book: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, of which I did a presentation in high school.
I read the Dirk Gently books all the time, over and over again. Fortunately I am the kind that can experience something several times without getting tired of it, so reading them again was no problem.
I read them so much that the story is burnt into my skull along with the appearance of all the characters. And that’s where the big problem starts.
Two years ago BBC decided that “even though it’s been 22 years since the release of the last book we should make a television series that is nothing like the book”! Alright, that is stretching it too far. The show is very similar to the book in many ways. Considering there were only two books, and considering the series lasted for two years, and considering they really don’t take too much directly from the book it is very good. I watched the three first episodes before I stopped, for one specific reason that I just couldn’t deal with, which I’ll get to.
Like I said, they don’t really take anything from the book. By that I mean that none of the stories (as far as I can tell) are the same as in the book. Nothing that happens in the book happens in the show (at least not in the same way). To be honest I think that is a very positive thing. The show manages to keep the essence of the books even though it doesn’t use any of the stories. That being said, I shouldn’t claim that they don’t take anything straight out of the book. Some might say taking a theme from a book and put it in a show based on a book is a good thing, but somehow they managed to mess that up. Take the “zen navigation”, for example: Dirk Gently mentions this constantly in the show. At least in the first episode, he just can’t shut up about it. He even takes the time to explain what it is every time he brings it up. It’s fine if he mentions it, but it doesn’t have to be his “trademark”. We never hear (or see, he he he) Dirk Gently talk about the zen navigation in the book, do we? It is just barely mention by the “narrator”. We don’t need to hear it all the time. In fact, if we even got around to watching the show, we probably read the book before or at least had some knowledge about it, so really there isn’t a very good reason to explain it in that much detail. I can understand that if Dirk brings up “zen navigation” to someone, he’ll probably have to explain what that is, but instead of saying “I’ll use the zen navigation!” and then start explaining what that is, he could’ve said something like “we’ll just follow the car in front of us” or something like that. If you mention the zen navigation too much you’ll wear it out!
Now to the biggest problem, and this really shouldn’t be such a hard thing.
In the book, Dirk is characterised as a fat man with metal rimmed glasses who usually wears a light brown suit with a red checkered shirt and a green tie draped with a heavy leather coat and topped with a red hat. Look at this picture and tell me if any of the things in the description matches the man you’re looking at.
Okay, to the show’s credit he does usually wear a light brown suit, but other that that? No. No, he doesn’t. He is not fat. He does not wear a red shirt, nor does he ever wear a hat, not to mention a red one. He wears a tie, but it is neither of the colours mentioned in the description. He doesn’t even wear glasses! Why?! Why did they have to make him “appealing”? I wished just once we would get a main character we could relate to. One that wasn’t beautiful. One that we weren’t supposed to get a crush on. The series would have been so great if they just made Dirk like in the book! Honestly, I would’ve been a lot more attracted to the show if he was. That’s the reason I was looking forward to this show in the first place: to see the Dirk I pictured in my mind on the screen.
Usually, when they take a character out of a book and try to make that character alive, it will usually fail. But that’s mainly because the person they find to portray the character doesn’t look exactly like the person we imagined. But rarely do they fail this badly! I mean, not a single thing was right! They didn’t. Even. Try!
Finally the rant is over, you think, but wait! There’s more. Okay, I can understand they picked a good looking actor to portray an otherwise unattractive character to attract viewers. But then there’s the way he acts.
Imagine Dirk Gently, if you can: is he whimsical? Is he very clever? Does he get incredible anger outbreaks? I don’t think so. Dirk Gently is a miserable, sarcastic bastard who doesn’t really care about anyone but himself. He has no satisfaction in doing his job other than getting paid for it, though he does have a clear talent for it. He does not get angry, but merely irritated and frustrated. Never does he go as far as rip open his co-worker’s chair because he was angry with him for turning his chair to block a hidden camera. I could never see Dirk Gently doing anything like that, and I don’t believe this is just my opinion. It’s just not the way he is.
An other thing: he doesn’t really get excited, not even when he’s about to solve that case. Like he said, he doesn’t really care for it other than getting paid and the feeling of being almost superior. I think instead of getting all hot headed he would sit down, think, scrabble on a piece of paper and try to figure it out in silence. He is calm. Clumsy, but calm.
I don’t hope I’m alone in saying this. I really had great respect for the Dirk Gently character and when I saw the media ruin such a genius creation like that I almost lost my mind. Like I said, I can understand why, but just… WHY?!
And again, I really did enjoy the show. If they had just called it something else I would have loved it. You should check it out if you haven’t already, even if you haven’t read the books or even if you’ve never even heard of Douglas Adams.