There are shows that can claim a unique premise, and then there’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Adapted from the wildly popular novels by Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), the BBC America series is, well, wild in and of itself. We’re still not entirely sure what it’s about, but we do know that it’s one weird and compelling ride.
Before Dirk returns for its Season 2 premiere tonight, we’re giving you the scoop on what to expect, straight from the cast and creatives. But first, here’s a little bit about the upcoming season – and yes, as always, everything is connected.
Welcome back to the world of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Every season is a dizzying, smart, dangerous, unexpected (for us, not the people involved) and fun adventure that explores a different genre. Season one was about time travel with body-swapping, and this season involves an injection of fantasy. The vast dangers lurking in the magical realm of Wendimoor navigate a path to Earth, becoming a threat and it’s up to Dirk (Samuel Barnett) and the gang to stop them in their tracks. But first things first – they need to find each other…
We had the chance to chat with creator Max Landis, showrunner Robert Cooper, and cast members including Elijah Wood (Todd Brotzman), Samuel Barnett (Dirk Gently), Hannah Marks (Amanda Brotzman), Jade Eshete (Farah Black), Fiona Dourif (Bart), Mpho Koaho (Ken), Alan Tudyk (Mr. Priest), and Tyler Labine (Sherlock Hobbs) at San Diego Comic-Con this summer. Here’s what they had to say…
The Dynamic Duo: Dirk and Todd
Season 2 begins after a two month time jump, with Dirk trapped in the government organization of Blackwing and separated from Todd and Farah. Dirk seems to be utterly defeated in his current surroundings with no obvious way out. Meanwhile, Todd and Farah are free, but on the run from the authorities – and determinedly seeking out Dirk, as well as Todd’s sister, Amanda.
According to Elijah Wood and Samuel Barnett, in many ways, these circumstances have caused Todd and Dirk to switch roles in this new season. “Todd is desperately searching for Dirk and desperately searching for his sister, with a great deal of conviction and belief in what Dirk stands for: the sort of proselytizing of following the universe, and everything is connected, and the universe will lead you to where you need to go that Todd was very slow to come on board with,” Wood explained. “He is absolutely fully convinced now – largely because it’s going to solve his problems. Dirk’s gonna solve everything, and everything’s going to be fine.”
Todd may have that conviction, but it sounds as though Dirk is the one who will need to get on board with the plan now. “Dirk’s having an existential crisis,” Barnett said. “Because Dirk finally has friends, but the problem is that when you have friends, you have people to care about. If you have people to care about, you have people to get hurt, and then you can feel sad. Also, he’s kind of misconnecting the fact that [everyone keeps getting hurt because of] his so-called powers and belief in the universe. His thing is, actually, maybe this is just nonsense. He’s done a complete 180, more to where Todd began, which is I don’t want to do this.”
This role reversal will leave the two men with a similar dynamic to the first season, but one that will still shake things up. “There’s still a push and pull between the two of them, but it’s at opposite ends of the spectrum. Whereas before so much of the conflict and the draw was about Dirk trying to get Todd on board to the way that the universe operates and what that can bring, it’s reversed now,” Wood said.
The Badass Ladies: Farah and Amanda
Dirk has no shortage of badass female characters, and two of them are Farah – bodyguard turned member of Dirk’s detective agency – and Amanda, Todd’s sister who has come into her own with the help of some unconventional new friends.
So where do we pick up with them in Season 2? According to Jade Eshete, Farah was happy to find acceptance in Dirk’s detective agency – happiness that was cut short with Dirk’s kidnapping and Todd’s pararibulutis attack. “We start off Season 2 with Farah on the run, looking for Dirk – which takes her and Todd into a town called Bergsberg, an imaginary town made up by Max [Landis] in the middle of Montana,” Eshete explained. “They’re embracing what Dirk taught them – how everything is connected and letting the universe guide them – and Farah’s kind of a full-on criminal starting out this season.”
While Farah is hacking and trying to reunite with her friends, Amanda has embraced her role with the Rowdy 3. “Amanda really disowns Todd at the end of last season, because she found out her hero – her brother – had been lying to her for at least the last seven years. It makes Amanda feel like she’s going to die now and she’s not going to survive her disease, so she takes off with the Rowdy 3, which are a group of energy vampires, and becomes a full badass – and actually becomes the leader of the group,” Hannah Marks said. Here’s to more ass-kicking as Amanda and Vogel (Osric Chau) seek to free the rest of the Rowdy 3 from Blackwing’s clutches.
The Other Guys: Bart and Ken
Beyond those associated with the detective agency, we have Bart (Fiona Dourif) and Ken (Mpho Koaho). Bart spent most of Season 1 trying to kill Dirk and just about everyone else in her path (as the universe directed), but now she has a new mission. “I’m looking for my best friend,” Dourif said.
Said best friend is Ken, the newest addition to the Blackwing subjects. “I don’t think Ken’s ever had a friend like Bart, so I think Ken likes being looked for,” Mpho said. “I think Ken appreciates that very much. And I tell you what, Ken can’t save himself. [laughs] I think we’ve established that, so he needs Bart to save the day.” While Bart’s search is underway, though, Ken will continue to grow and live up to his full potential.
Bart’s search for Ken will mysteriously take her to the same small town of Bergsberg, Montana in tonight’s premiere, where odd, unexplainable events are starting to take place. Could a Bart/Todd/Farah team-up be on the horizon? We’ll have to wait to find out.
The New Guys: Sherlock Hobbs and Mr. Priest
A new season of Dirk means intriguing new characters: two of which are Sherlock Hobbs and Mr. Priest, played by comedic gems Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk. The two men have notably worked together before on Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, but don’t actually interact on the show – at least in this season. “We’re like those lovers that you want to get together, but they don’t live in the same city,” Tudyk teased, with Labine adding, “It’s a tease, right? We’re like Jim and Pam. Are they or aren’t they? But we don’t ever talk. We’re not aware of our romance.”
Hobbs and Priest may not interact, but they have a lot going on on their own. Sherlock Hobbs is the sheriff of Bergsberg, and he’s ready for something interesting to happen. “It’s a very small town that nothing ever happens in. Then this gang wanders into my life, and I should probably just lock them away forever – if I was a smarter man – but I don’t, and I enable them in all the worst ways and go along with them inexplicably on this crazy ride,” Labine said. “I just accept everything that they tell me about time travel and alternate universes as fact, and in fact, my character is like, Good. It’s about time something exciting happened to me. I’m the sheriff in this dang town, and nobody ever asks anything of me.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Priest is in hot pursuit of our faves, trying to bring them to justice. “I work for Blackwing. I definitely don’t report to any government, and if I do, I’m rogue as hell,” Tudyk explained. “He’s meant to be a badass. I have some good weapons, I have great tracking skills, and I’m on the case. I’m on their tail from the very beginning. That’s what I’m doing the whole season, is finding them with a plan to bring them in.”
The Creatives: Max Landis and Robert Cooper
As you can tell, there are a lot of pieces in play when Dirk picks up for its second season. Even showrunner Robert Cooper and creator Max Landis could only sum it up as follows: “It’s weird?” Cooper said. “Some crazy shit goes down,” Landis added.
That said, the two men did have some interesting teases for the upcoming season. For starters, Cooper shared that there will be some intriguing easter eggs and echoes of the first season. “For example, you had two police officers who are kind of the buttoned up, straight and narrow – the normal people, the point of view of the audience,” he said. “This year, you have two police officers who are introduced – Tyler Labine and Izzie Steele. I would describe them as kind of fans of Season 1.”
This reversal should definitely be fun – and funny – but Cooper and Landis also noted that they will be interested to see when people remember that those first cops (and everyone else who wasn’t a main character in the first season) died horribly. Fun times, right? Don’t get too attached – just in case.
Landis also spoke to his process for writing female characters – since, as noted above, there are some serious badasses on this show. We have to say, we’re on board with his writing process.
“I only write losers. I don’t write winners, I don’t write experts. I only write losers. If they’re good at something, they have to be bad at something,” he said. “The characters within Dirk Gently are all losers. They’re all people who are missing something. I write female characters identically to the way I write male characters in that it has to be a person who is missing something they need and has something broken inside of them that stops them from getting it, and has a special skill that pushes it toward them inexorably.”
Landis spoke specifically of Farah, who will really come into her own this season, and the new character played by Izzie Steele. “It’s exciting to take actresses and make them ridiculous heroes. It’s so easy to make them experts or girlfriends. […] I think in a lot of shows like this, women get As and Bs and no Cs. Here’s who I am, here’s what I do – there’s no here’s where I go. Our show is a here’s where I go show.”
We’re excited to see where each of these characters goes in the new – and sure to be wild – season of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Get ready for it.
Dirk Gently returns to BBC America TONIGHT, October 14, at 9/8c.
Images Courtesy of BBC America