Brow Beat

Elijah Wood Goes Full Barton Fink in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Elijah Wood seems to be having the longest, darkest tea time of the soul imaginable in the trailer for Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, released at Comic-Con. The setup, as the trailer frames it, as much in common with Fight Club as with Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently novels: Wood plays a character named Todd, who has the dullest, most humiliating life imaginable, working as a bellboy at a place with the same dress code as Barton Fink’s Hotel Earle. That all changes when Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett) shows up, forcibly pointing out the misery Todd’s been putting up with and plunging him into a new life of danger and adventure. Todd bucks against the eccentric detective wreaking havoc in his life, telling him, “I am not your Watson, asshole!” but once you invite Tyler Durden into your head, good luck turning back the clock.

The show, produced by Max Landis, looks competent and funny: Barnett’s blithe delivery is great, and Wood’s always had a talent for misery. Setting the show in the United States (while keeping Gently British) seems like a surprisingly good idea: making Gently play off against non-Brits makes the Douglas Adams’ cleverness in lines like “no private detective looks like a private detective—that’s one of the first rules of private detection” a lot funnier. Plus: Bloc Party! The show premieres on BBC America on Oct. 22.