Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams’ other major novel series, Dirk Gently, is coming back to television but not the way you might remember him. The BBC first brought the detective to TV back in 2010 with Stephen Mangan (Houdini and Doyle) in the titular role. Despite huge fan reaction, BBC let the series go after episode 4.
Now BBC America is doing Dirk and, according to writer/showrunner Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra, Mr. Right), they’re taking it in a completely different direction from the earlier series. “In almost every way other than that it contains a character named Dirk Gently,” Landis recently told a fan.
The first major change is the location. The show about a British detective started filming this week in Vancouver, British Columbia but the narrative places Gently in Seattle, Washington ( unlike the new Dirk Gently comic book which is based in San Diego, California). We won’t, however, see an “Americanized” version of the character. Landis and fellow showrunner Robert Cooper (Stargate) have picked Samuel Barnett, a North Yorkshire lad, to play Dirk Gently. We got to see a little bit of Barnett’s comic abilities as Advocate Bob in Jupiter Ascending as well as in his stint on the series Not Safe for Work.
Lord of the Rings’ Elijah Wood (who is American) will be Gently’s much-suffering assistant Todd and, it appears, his suffering begins early on in the piece. One of the first behind-the-scenes pictures from the production features Wood, in his underwear, being menaced by a hammer-wielding behemoth.
Landis has said on several occasions that his show is not a direct adaptation of the existing Dirk Gently novels. Instead he is attempting to channel Douglas Adams while telling entirely new stories. “That’s what’s been so weird about adapting Dirk Gently,” Landis says. “The content is new and different, but the tone and ideas are what’s important.”
For those unfamiliar with the novels, Dirk Gently describes himself as a “holistic detective” and relies on the fundamental interconnectedness of all things in the universe to solve whatever mysteries come his way. This leads to a series of outlandish and unbelievable circumstances sometimes involving ancient gods, alien ghosts, time-traveling professors and heavily-armed kangaroos.
From what he’s released about the production thus far, Landis seems to be right on track setting up the tone for his new version of Adams’ universe. “Underneath the production office of Dirk Gently is the enormous warehouse that will be our sound stage,” Landis explains. “The sound stage will, throughout the course of the first season, be host to three apartments, a hoarder’s house, an underground maze rigged with a series of deadly traps, a cult’s sci-fi soul-stealing temple, a destroyed luxury hotel penthouse, and a mad scientist’s lab.”
Dirk Gently Holistic Detective Agency is set to film through August with a debut set for the fall.
BBC America announced the rest of the series cast in a press release on Tuesday.
- Hannah Marks as Todd’s sister Amanda, a former rebellious punk riot grrl, now sidelined and housebound by a painful genetic disorder.
- Jade Eshete as Farah Black, the athletic, self-doubting, badass, hyper competent but utterly anxious Security Officer to a billionaire.
- Mpho Koaho as Ken, a nerdy, friendly-faced tech trapped in increasingly difficult and bloody circumstances.
- Fiona Dourif as Bart Curlish, the terrifying, homicidal, deranged, fearless and nearly invincible self-identified “Holistic Assassin.”
- Michael Eklund as Martin, violent ring leader of the Rowdy 3 with an inexplicable sensitive side.
- Miguel Sandoval as Colonel Scott Riggins, beleaguered CIA head of a defunct secret bureau investigating the paranormal.
- Dustin Milligan as Sergeant Hugo Friedkin, Riggin’s subordinate, unpredictable, wildly ambitious and dangerous moron.
- Aaron Douglas as Gordon Rimmer, an enigmatic loser with an impressive series of horrible secrets.
- Neil Brown Jr. as Estevez and Richard Schiff (The West Wing) as Zimmerfield, missing person’s detectives operating increasingly off book as they follow the trail of a complex and mystifying case.