Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Dirk Gently" (Season One)

2016 was a great year for American Television. A large part of the reason for that was the way that American producers discovered the British manner of doing shorter seasons of shows that tell a story and then get out, not trying to artificially fill 22 or more episodes whether the plot calls for it or not. Things like “Stranger Things” and even “The X Files” to a lesser extent are shows that I relished in 2016.

One of the real gems was “Dirk Gently.”

Now, I must acknowledge right up front that the show was tailor made for someone like me, and it is likely not for everyone. It is based on the writings of Douglas Adams, more well-known for his Hitchhiker to the Galaxy series of novels. If you aren’t into his absurdist take on things, this very strange plot will likely drive you crazy. Also, it is a bit irreverent in humor and comically extreme in its violence, so again, not everyone’s cup of tea.

However, for those who do like this sort of abstract intellectualism, there are treasures to be found. In particular, I love the way this story explores the nature of faith. It is truly a presentation of the idea that often truth is something we simply accept without understanding. In fact, if you are too insistent on understanding reality you are often driven to throwing your hands up and calling the universe absurd. That is, ironically, the position that Adams took in his real life. Too bad he couldn’t embrace the sort of leap of faith that his stories called for.

Without giving too much away, Dirk Gently is a strange man who claims to be a “holistic detective.” He claims that everything happens for a reason and that all events in the universe are tied together. His special talent lies in the fact that he is able to “ride the current” of the universal cause and effect to his advantage. His purpose is to set things right by being in the right place at the right time. The audience is slowly convinced of the truth of his claims as we follow Tod, another character whom Dirk coerces into helping him on his quest.

It is no mere fatalism that we are dealing with in Dirk Gently. Choices still need to be made, and courage and danger are still required. But, since the story being told is being orchestrated by a story-teller (Adams) the free will and decisions made by characters in this story serve the overall plot. There is purpose and meaning to life in the Dirk Gently universe.

And in that way, this serves as a rough parable for the way that free will and divine sovereignty work. People have free will and make choices, yet the storyteller of the universe is in control and works things out to His purposes. For those with the ability to trust the creator, we have assurance of purpose and meaning in life.

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