|Chaos reigns with Dirk and Macduff. Pics: BBC|
BBC Four, starts Monday, 5 March, 9pm
Story: It seems a bit mad to try to sum up the plot, but it begins with Dirk receiving a hate Valentine’s card, and proceeds to a paranoid client – who fears the Pentagon is trying to kill him – turning up dead. It is rounded off with Dirk being asked by a wife to investigate her adulterous husband, who also employs the sleuths to find out why his horoscopes are coming true. How are these random cases interconnected? Just watch…
Random mysteries are about to collide as holistic detective Dirk Gently returns for three new investigations. ‘Embrace the chaos,’ as the unorthodox sleuth says – and for those viewers who can, this second helping of Douglas (Hitchhiker’s Guide) Adams’s creation is totally logical.
|Scary (unpaid) receptionist Janice (Lisa Jackson)|
Stephen Mangan’s take on the rather dodgy and egocentric private eye was unveiled by the Beeb in 2010, so there’s been quite a lag between adventures. Since then Mangan’s been seen in the laughter-lite sitcom Episodes with Matt LeBlanc, which, surprisingly, has been recommissioned.
Trust to randomness and chaos
Dirk Gently is a more modest show that still provides plenty of grin-inducing moments, without rupturing the laughter muscles. Mangan, who’s proved expert in playing chancers since he hit the limelight in Green Wing, and Darren Boyd, as his assistant/partner Macduff, are a good pairing as the bickering sleuths who veer between incompetence and genius in solving cases for usually non-paying clients.
- Castle – amateur sleuthing and flirting between a detective and a novelist: C5 from Wed, 7 March
- A Touch of Cloth – Charlie Brooker’s spoof starring John Hannah, Suranne Jones: Sky 1, April
There’s something reassuring about a series that takes the detective genre staples – a conspiracy theory and adulterous husband in this opener – along with life’s problems and treats them as offshoots of sod’s law. ‘Trust to randomness and chaos to solve the case,’ says Dirk to Macduff, who replies at one point, ‘Bollocks.’
|Jilted wife Emma (Cosima Shaw)|
The brown Austin Princess
So, crime fans who love to unravel a teasing plot should look elsewhere for other series that have more reasonable storylines (no, not Midsomer Murders).
You watch Dirk Gently to marvel at his brown Austin Princess, the crazed whimsy of his deductions and the silliness of Howard Overman’s script. ‘He has less chance of being murdered than you or I,’ says Dirk of their ‘paranoid’ client, as he and Macduff walk in to find the man’s corpse.
Macduff’s level-headed girlfriend, Susan (Helen Baxendale), is not in episode one, but she features in the next story, which should stir things nicely.
Cast: Stephen Mangan Dirk, Darren Boyd Macduff, Jason Watkins DI Gilks, Lisa Jackson Janice, Paul Ritter Oliver, Cosima Shaw Emma, Ken Collard Matthew, Colin McFarlane Terrence, Miranda Raison Kate