Dirk Gently episode 2 review

Louisa finds episode two of Dirk Gently much improved, with plenty of energy, silly sci-fi, and fun...


This review contains spoilers.

Now, that’s more like it. If last week’s opener lacked for silly sci-fi and comedy, then episode two of Dirk Gently was swimming in the stuff. The stuff in question being a meaty soup of robots, chip-loving artificial intelligences, improbably lax murder investigations, improbably simple consciousness downloads, and lines about Humberside-based homosexual homunculi. Fun? In spades.

Episode 2 saw Dirk return to his fictional Cambridge alma mater, St. Cedd’s (familiar to hard-core Doctor Who fans from the unaired Douglas Adams-penned Shada), ostensibly to provide a specialist security detail for a former professor’s hi-tech robot. Closer to the forefront of Dirk’s mind however was finding out more about his expulsion from St. Cedd’s hallowed halls years earlier.

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What followed saw Dirk, briefly, discover his softer side, and a recently sentient computer programme discover a love of both chips and Dirk in that order. Lydia Wilson was charming as ABH-committing AI unit Jane, who approached the role with a kooky Scandinavian accent and great comic timing.  

The reintroduction of Helen Baxendale as Susan, crucially, gave Macduff something to do (even if it was largely to ignore her), and the end of the episode saw a much-needed explanation of why he puts up with all of Dirk’s monkeyshines. Macduff suspects that Dirk Gently might just be brilliant, and you know what, I’m half way to agreeing with him.

Not quite brilliant perhaps, but certainly entertaining and bouncing with life compared to last week’s slightly shaky opener. There was an actual mystery to solve this week, built around the rather creepy and sad story of Professor Jericho (Bill Paterson) and his comatose daughter. 

TV and film have long taught us that the discovery of a secret child’s bedroom behind a hidden passageway isn’t usually an indicator of anything very nice, but in this case, the devotion of a grieving father was the cause. Bill Paterson was a fine temporary addition to the cast, as was the (gloriously named, incidentally) Sylvestra Le Touzel in the role of Professor Ransome.

As Dirk’s secretary, Campus’ Lisa Jackson has yet to utter (or scream) more than a line, so hopefully we’ll see more from her in next week’s episode. 

David Cho/Noel too felt like just the kind of fun bit-character who might pop up in Doctor Who or Being Human (probably not in Misfits, since he doesn’t swear at, shag, or kill anyone), a lovesick WoW-enthusiast who’s lost his heart to an Elf and his man to a Gnome. All in all then, a round of applause for the supporting cast.

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And a round of applause for sometime Doctor Who writer Matt Jones, whose script gave the short-lived series a shot in the arm. Yes, the “fundamental interconnectedness” stuff was once again insisted upon rather heavily (it’s just occurring now what a boon that premise is to screenwriters needing to tie together a wacky selection of story strands…), but it came with laughs, surprises and a bit of intrigue, so I’ll happily take it.

The ‘plug and play’ ease with which a consciousness was transferred from CPU to voice command robot to coma patient may have stretched some viewers’ credulity, but that’s hardly a concern when it comes to Gently. It’s not as though Jericho’s entire office was a time machine operated by a centuries-old Time Lord-alike who accidentally caused the extinction of the dodo now is it?

BBC4’s budget is clearly a modest one, and may not come close to squeezing Douglas Adams’ eccentric and joke-laden prose into an hour of telly, but it certainly was one thing: fun. Silly, baffling, energetic  fun. Bring on next week.

Read our review of episode one, here.

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