2016 was quite a year for television, to say the least. Small screen juggernauts like “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead” pushed the envelope forward even further as other hits like “Westworld,” “Mr. Robot” and “American Horror Story” kept fans talking long after the shows came to an end.
But while there is no lack of quality programming to choose from these days, a growing trend found story twists and speculative theories overshadowing the subject matter meant merely to entertain the masses. With the new year quickly approaching, we have a small request to propose: Make more television like “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.”
The BBC America series eased its way onto our radar roughly two months ago and, while the Douglas Adams-inspired program initially confused the heck out of us, there was something about the quirky TV show we couldn’t shake.
The storytelling formula of the series — which stars Samuel Barnett and Elijah Wood — acts more like a puzzle to be put together than a straightforward narrative. And while puzzles beg for speculation, there’s something mystifying about “Dirk Gently” that mostly kept the theories at bay.
Yes, the program is inspired by the book series of the same name but it doesn’t adhere to any real storyline fans are familiar with. And that, dare we say, is a good thing.
What you have in “Dirk Gently” is a bonkers story about broken people looking for acceptance and purpose. Yes, there are soul swapping hippies, a scattered gang of odd psychics, a time-traveling inventor, a secret government project reminiscent of America’s shuttered MKUltra program and a very cute corgi, to name a few things… But while that sounds like too many moving parts to keep track of, the series does a great job at keeping the viewer’s interest by giving the show a whole lot of heart and gumption.
The other component that lends to the show’s success is something drastically missing from the current TV landscape. And that is an element of fun and adventure without the need for self-assigned thought or the itch to dig for the real meaning behind it all. Instead, “Dirk Gently” acts as a delightful roller coaster ride, connecting every oddball plot point throughout its eight-episode run. It does the thinking for us and gives the viewer time to breathe while taking the whole crazy thing in.
TV theories may have helped to undermine entertainment over the past year — speculative pieces about “Westworld,” “Mr. Robot” and “American Horror Story” have habitually flooded the Internet. That’s not to say these separate fandoms aren’t justified or useful in telling the overall story. But sometimes, the conversation ends up overshadowing said story and that, by and far, can be distracting.
The seeds planted throughout Season 1 of “Dirk Gently” will most certainly continue to sprout in the show’s second season. But, we have to place our hopes out there into the television development universe that more programs like this will be coming our way soon. With all the thought-provoking, high concept entertainment on the horizon, sometimes we just want to shut our brains off, recline in our comfy pants and enjoy an exciting TV ride.