Dirk Gently (Stephen Mangan) vs. Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett)

RialVestroRialVestro Posts: 6,367 ✭✭✭
So I actually saw the Stephen Mangan series before I read the books. Then while I was reading the books I couldn't help but to picture the actors from that series in the roles. (Plus Denis Carey as Professor Chronotis)

Oddly the book describes Dirk as an over weight smoker who always wears a hat. Both these Dirks are skinny guys who never wear a hat and don't smoke. So basically neither of them are the same character from the book. However the Barnett version does mention that his real name is Svlad Cjelli while in the Mangan version Dirk Gently is his real name. Even in the book that was an alias not his real name so the Barnett version did get that part right.

The pilot for the Mangan series seems to be an adaption of the first book with some drastic changes. For one thing there's a white board in the pilot with a bunch of nonsense from a previous case written on it. Among that nonsense is a reference to an Electric Monk and a stuck couch. These are references to the first book. The stuck couch in question belonged to Richard MacDuff in the book. However in the series it's not known who the couch belongs to as we never actually see it. We do know it's not Richard though.

The Barnett series also has a reference to a case involving a couch and a thing with Thor referencing both books. Of course Richard MacDuff isn't in this series. Instead a character named Todd Brotzman takes the roll that Richard MacDuff was in the other series.

Susan Way from the book has been changed to Susan Harmison for the series. This is mainly because she was changed from being Gordon Way's sister to his ex-girlfriend... considering I saw the series first I didn't see anything wrong with them dating but after reading the book and watching the series again I now find it creepy that they were turned into a couple. Her last name was changed to show that they're not related in this version but women change their last name when they get married so her maiden name could very well still be Way.

Anyway both series and the book involve time travel. In the book Professor Chronotis has his T.A.R.D.I.S. which is never called that because the B.B.C. owns the Trade Mark on that name. The character was originally written for Shada in Doctor Who. Dirk Gently took the role of the Doctor and Richard MacDuff took the role of Romana.

In the Mangan series it was Gordon Way who invented the Time Machine as a way to correct a mistake that caused Susan to break up with him in college.

In the Barnett series which seems to have some events of the books taking place in his past, he never mentions having traveled in time before but he does it in this series too. This time the time machine was invented by Zackariah Webb who has multiple other aliases because of all the time traveling. He had to pretend to be his own father in order to explain away the apparent lack of aging.

One of the major differences between the two series is that while in the Mangan series each case is solved in a single episode, the Barnett series spends the whole season working on just one case. I actually prefer it the Mangan way because I don't like the suspense waiting another week to find out what the heck is going on. I like to see the story come to a nice conclusion in just one episode. Maybe some times a two part episode is OK but when every single episode in the entire season is made like that it gets kind of annoying.

On the flip side making the plot stretch out over multiple episodes does allow a lot more time to tell a much better story. Having to cram a big complicated plot into a single episode it often can feel rushed and full of plot holes.

However that being said I think the Mangan series did an excellent job in each episode. The Barnett series however despite being given a lot more time to develop just one plot line I'm still confused by what exactly happened.

The time machine is also used to swap souls between bodies. This cult forms around this machine and they mostly use it to swap bodies with celebrities. This a famous singer named Lux Dujour. His soul gets forcefully transferred into a nobody named Gordon Rimmer (not to be confused with Gordon Way.) The thing is... Gordon seems to be Lux even before they switched souls. His attitude, his mannerisms, even the dog he seems to care for all remain consistent for the entire series... and at one point they even time travel back to before the switch was made. Was that suppose to be a flash back and that's why it doesn't seem like he's any different after switching souls? If that scene with Lux and Gordon switching souls was suppose to be a flash back they didn't really do a very good job of indicating that.

I also felt like there was some stuff that actually didn't connect to this case. That shouldn't happen when Dirk's whole thing is that everything is connected. There's a whole bunch of stuff that seems to be going to entirely separate case for a second season which the original series never got. So not only did they make me wait a week between episodes to see the end of this case but there's still more stuff that I have to wait I don't know how long till season 2 starts to find out what the hell is going on.

It's a good idea to keep the audience interested so they'll want to come back to find out what happens next. However it's really not a good idea to leave any loose ends when you have no idea if your series will be renewed for another season or not. They could decide not to ever bring this back and then this loose plot threads will never be resolved.

Also I tried not to give away any major spoilers when writing this. I did mention some things but taken out of context none of it's going to make any sense unless you already know what I'm talking about. So which do you prefer Stephen Mangan or Samuel Barnett? (This is the TV/Movie section so Book Dirk isn't really an option.)

For me it's a pretty close call. They both do things I like and things that kind of bug me but I think I prefer the Stephen Mangan version.
Ni, peng, nee-wom! Ecky, ecky, ecky, pakang, zoom-ping! Baa weep grahna weep ninny bong!


  • fishmongerfishmonger Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USAPosts: 3
    How did I miss there having been a previous TV incarnation of Dirk Gently? I assume that one was less... hacking-people-apart-with-a-machete-y? Having only seen the current (Barnett?) version, I guess I'll have to call that my favorite. I'm happy that I was able to quickly let go of my book-derived understanding of the world of DGHDA, because obviously very little carries over! The first few episodes washed over me like a tidal wave. I just sat there stunned, soaking it all in. What a pleasant surprise when it all started making sense (albeit of a time-travel and holistic universe variety)!

    I think that scene with Lux and Gordon was a flashback. Didn't someone comment earlier that Lux has been missing for 15 years? And I think there was a news story that they'd found his remains at one point, wasn't there? I think we're meant to understand that he's been dead for ages. Of course, with time travel and soul swapping involved, that could be twisted away at any point!
  • RialVestroRialVestro Posts: 6,367 ✭✭✭
    You might be able to find the old series online still. And by machete-y I assume you mean the rather extreme amounts of gore and blood in the room that the series opens on. Yeah the original series had no gore at all. The new series wasn't that bad in my opinion but if that kind of stuff bothers you that much the original series is probably going to be more enjoyable for you. The new series is definitely for a more mature audience that can handle some bloody violence.

    As to the whole Gordon/Lux confusion, the main part of my problem is that the actor didn't really do anything to try to separate those two characters from each other. I couldn't really believe that there were two completely different souls cause his mannerisms and motivations never seemed to change.

    To try to explain this in the least confusing way possible I'm going to refer to them as GS, GB, LS, and LB. G for Gordon, L for Lux, B for Body, and S for Soul. This way you can easily identify which character I'm talking about.

    See the actor playing GB should have different mannerisms and motivations depending on if he's got GS or LS inside him. LB we only see with LS before he's dead so once LS was inside GB the mannerisms and motivations of GB should match that of LB cause they're the same soul. Instead LS matches GS which makes no sense considering they're suppose to be two completely different and distinct characters.

    I've seen actors in other movies and TV shows do the whole body swapping thing and do better jobs convincing me that they're actually in each other's bodies but this guy just never did a great job of portraying the two characters as two entirely different people.
    Ni, peng, nee-wom! Ecky, ecky, ecky, pakang, zoom-ping! Baa weep grahna weep ninny bong!
  • AkuunAkuun Posts: 1
    Sorry for necroing this old thread, but I found a mistake in the original post that was never corrected.

    "However the Barnett version does mention that his real name is Svlad Cjelli while in the Mangan version Dirk Gently is his real name."

    This however is incorrect, in the Mangan series, you see Svlad Cjelli is Dirk's real name on the Pentagon computers, and that Dirk Gently , Maurice Brown, and Phillipe Gascay are all aliases.
    About 5 mins into the the 2nd of 4 episodes.
  • RialVestroRialVestro Posts: 6,367 ✭✭✭
    Akuun said:

    Sorry for necroing this old thread, but I found a mistake in the original post that was never corrected.

    "However the Barnett version does mention that his real name is Svlad Cjelli while in the Mangan version Dirk Gently is his real name."

    This however is incorrect, in the Mangan series, you see Svlad Cjelli is Dirk's real name on the Pentagon computers, and that Dirk Gently , Maurice Brown, and Phillipe Gascay are all aliases.
    About 5 mins into the the 2nd of 4 episodes.

    I never paid that much attention to the stuff in the background. I only knew about the stuck couch, the electric monk, and Thor being referenced on the white board before Dirk paints over it because someone else pointed it out to me.

    That being said, even if the name Svlad Cjelli was in an episode, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's automatically going to be Dirk's real name. The stuck couch I just mentioned in the book was Richard MacDuff's couch but in the series considering the reference was already on the white board from a previous case before Richard even came into the picture, it obviously can't be his couch in the T.V. show universe.

    It is entirely possible that while Dirk Gently and Svlad Cjelli are the same person in other incarnations that in the original TV series they could of been two entirely separate characters.

    Again comparing the book to the series, Richard MacDuff recognizes Dirk Gentley in both. However in the book he recognizes him as Svlad Cjelli to which he responds that he changed his name. The two had went to college together. This is true in the series as well except there's no mention of the name change. They end up going back to their college to work on a case in the book and the TV series though they're two completely different cases. Again, everyone in the book knows him to be Svlad Cjelli. Also I should mention that in both versions he was expelled for cheating on tests because he was apparently writing out the answers in his sleep. Anyway, in the series everyone knows him to be Dirk Gentley. No one directly calls him by the name Svlad Cjelli. He never mentions having changed his name to Dirk Gentley.

    Another possible explanation for this difference between the book and the series is that he could of changed his name before college rather than after which would explain why no one was aware of his other alias. However it seems unlikely that he could of changed his name before enrollment into college. It's possible but there is a really small window between high school and college where a person can change their identity and even if you did it would difficult not to encounter someone who isn't aware of your name change during college. The fact that Richard and their former professors only know the name Dirk Gentley means that was most likely always his name.

    The inclusion of Svlad Cjelli as some background Easter egg was likely just that and had nothing to do with this particular incarnation of Dirk Gentley. I might change my mind if I rewatch the episode and catch the Easter egg myself. I mean if there's a picture of the actor playing Dirk right next to the name then there's no question about who it's referring to but if it's just a name displayed on a screen then it probably doesn't mean anything.

    Anyway... I haven't really had much time to post in here during season 2 of the Samuel Barnett series. The season has just ended and this is oddly the first time anyone has posted in this thread since the first season.

    Anyway... it kinda bothers me that Dirk Gently so clearly has supernatural powers now. It was always really vague originally in the books and the Stephen Mangan series. Like Dirk himself even denied having any powers. And in the first season of this series it was kinda vague and Dirk denied it. However now, Dirk's not denying it anymore and all the Blackwing subjects have very obvious supernatural abilities. Though Dirk and Bart seem to be weakest. I mean the Rowdy Three are energy vampires, Mona Wilder is a shape shifter,
    The Boy is a Blackwing subject in a coma who can create things out of thin air.
    Dirk and Bart however both essentially have the same ability which is just to stumble around like idiots and some how end up exactly where they need to be. Except Dirk uses this to solve crimes as a Holistic Detective and Bart uses this as an assassin some how knowing bad people who need to die and sparing good people without knowing anything about them. Mona even calls herself a Holistic Actress but her powers don't work the same and I have no idea what shape shifting has to do with the interconnectedness of all things.

    It's like the writers made Bart first trying to actually apply the same rules to different professions but then after that they just went screw it super natural powers are definitely real and everyone here has them.

    Even in the second book where Thor was real Douglas Adams blurred the lines between science fiction and supernatural. Valhalla wasn't a super natural place where gods lived, it was another planet. Thor was an alien with advanced technology. Kinda like in the MCU except without outright saying it like they did. Douglas Adams himself was an Atheist, he didn't believe in the supernatural. Whenever something typically supernatural would show up in one of his books he would blur the lines between science fiction and fantasy and just leave it up to the reader to interpret things any way they wanted. Though they seemed to skew more towards the beliefs of the author. I've found that when other authors try to recreate his work in some way the writing tends to skew more in the other direction. And Another Thing... another book which included Thor as a main character, except here he was actually a god. It was blurred a little bit but instead of making it unclear if Thor was using technology or supernatural abilities instead it's really just unclear if this is the same Thor from Dirk Gentley or of these stories take place in entirely different universes.

    Anyway, having characters literally use magic and calling it magic, it doesn't fit Douglas Adams. If he would use supernatural abilities at all in his stories he'd be more subtle about it leaving the viewer to question if anything supernatural is actually happening or if there's a more logical explanation, but this has thrown all of that out the window and shouted at the audience that yes supernatural abilities do exist in this universe. It's not that I have a problem with supernatural abilities existing in fiction. It's just that being based on Douglas Adams' work I don't think he would of approved of his characters suddenly coming into contact with the supernatural like this. Part of the reason I like his writing is because it causes the reader to question if the supernatural is actually real of it can be explained scientifically. I actually had to look it up to see that he was an Atheist because I wasn't sure if I was pushing my own views into his work or if that was actually the way he intended them to be. And he did say in an interview that he was Atheist. So I think pushing the idea that no the supernatural does exist into his work after his death is frankly an insult to his work. I wish they had been more faithful to the source material and left the supernatural elements vague, leave the audience guessing don't just outright tell them yes it's all supernatural. Especially considering you're suppose to come to the conclusion that there's a more logical natural explanation.

    The first season was much better. Season 2 was kind of a terrible mess. The acting was good but the writing was really kind of all over the place and there's still a lot of loose ends that I don't understand why they were even part of the story to begin with. It's Dirk Gentley, everything is suppose to be connected, there shouldn't be any loose ends left but even the characters in the last episode admit they have no idea how or why this one character ties into everything. She's just sort of there and literally no one know why. I'm not using her name because frankly I can't even be bothered to remember who she is. It also might be considered a spoiler if you knew who I was I talking about though considering her entire character has nothing to do with anything in the over all plot I'm not sure how anything involving her could be a spoiler. She's really pointless and the show is surprisingly self aware as to how pointless she is.

    It's possible the loose ends could have something to do with season 3. The ending did set up a possible third season so if that happens then maybe we could get some answers about this one woman and some other smaller issues but until then I'm wandering why things were left unconnected at the end.
    Ni, peng, nee-wom! Ecky, ecky, ecky, pakang, zoom-ping! Baa weep grahna weep ninny bong!
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