Have plans for the weekend before The Walking Dead returns for its seventh season October 23? If you want to treat yourself to some smart and enticing TV, those plans should include a binge of Season 3 of Black Mirror on Netflix and the debut of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency on BBC America.
With the third season of the Charlie Brooker-created anthology launching its six episodes October 21 on the streaming service and the eight-part Max Landis-penned adaptation of Douglas Adams’ deliciously epigrammatic novels premiering October 22, a British invasion of sorts is coming to the small screen. And as I say above in my video review of the two series, both are winners.
Teeming with a night sky of stars including Bryce Dallas Howard, Wyatt Russell, Halt And Catch Fire’s Mackenzie Davis, House Of Cards’ Michael Kelly, Malachi Kirby and Kelly Macdonald, Black Mirror seemingly has more money than when it was on the UK’s Channel 4. But rest assured, the first half of the 12-episode deal that the series executive produced by Brooker and Annabel Jones made with the streaming service is as biting and sometimes unsettling as ever.
Still performing an autopsy of our addiction to technology and the dire fallout that has become the new normal, Black Mirror’s Season 3 is a little bit more Americanized. However, especially with the wonderful 1980s-set “San Junipero” episode starring Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, it is also shouldering a new sense of optimism and hope while remaining no less insightful.
Meanwhile, the latest adaptation of Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, also shoulders a lot of something special as it plays with the wonderfully absurd amidst a thriller involving a millionaire’s murder, a black cat and vampires in vans. Those are just a few of the elements that come together in this tasty gumbo starring Samuel Barnett as Gently and Elijah Wood as his reluctant sidekick.
Where Landis has played it smart is to avoid what has trapped other Adams adaptors by trying not to imitate the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy author. Instead, in channeling Adams, Landis and showrunner Robert Cooper have let their freak flag fly – and the result is a ton of fun with some agile choices and witty twists. Part of that is an excellent supporting cast of Hannah Marks as the ailment-plagued sister of Wood’s character Todd; Mpho Koaho as a beleaguered hacker; Jade Eshete as a security officer having a really bad day; and the devilish Fiona Dourif as a seemingly unkillable assassin who really wants to kill Dirk Gently himself.
So, click on my video review of Black Mirror Season 3 and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and check out what you should be doing with the first part of your weekend.
This review originally ran on October 17, 4:49 PM.