Based on Douglas Adams’s novel, the new BBC America series Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency features the familiar trope of a duo with opposite personalities embarking on a whirlwind adventure to unravel a mystery. Except these guys aren’t Holmes and Watson. In fact, Dirk Gently’s (Samuel Barnett) de facto sidekick Todd (Elijah Wood) is about as anti-Watson as it gets.
Though Todd Brotzman may play the role of sidekick, series creator Max Landis describes him as the antithesis to the companions we typically see in stories. “Todd doesn’t want to be on the adventure,” Landis told Entertainment Weekly. “He’s annoyed by the great dialog, he has no real emotional interest in solving the mystery, and yet he is a person who, like all of us, is searching for meaning.”
Despite the inevitably epic nature of a mystery steeped in time travel oddities and a dangerous “holistic assassin,” Todd remains a reluctant participant in the whole damn thing, creating a fresh take on what could’ve easily fallen into the well-tread Sherlock and Watson territory.
On the surface, this dynamic doesn’t seem different since Dirk is still a person who needs the opposite characteristics that a companion brings to the table. It’s just a very different relationship.
Plus, Dirk Gently is not entirely unlike Sherlock insofar as he’s unorthodox in the mystery-solving department. Dirk is not your typical “find the clues and follow the leads” detective. As a “holistic detective,” he explores, in his own words, the “fundamental interconnectedness of all things.” He’s a “big picture” kind of guy, and even though he has psychic abilities, he sort of sucks at using them to solve cases and get paid.
Todd, reluctant though he may seem to be, might be a key part of Dirk’s journey to solving the mystery and … well … staying alive. We’ll see just how that works out when Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency premieres on BBC America October 22.