He of Frodo Baggins fame, of the multimillion dollar salary, Elijah Wood, is starring in a huge new TV show. Sounds weird, right? Although he already fronted his own show, Wilfred, a whimsical, weird three year series about a suicidal man and his talking dog, that seemed like little more than an exception. A blip on the radar. A fun extended vacation from making huge blockbuster movies for one of Hollywood's most talented actors. But the news that Elijah Woods' Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency role is one of the two lead parts implies the actor is serious about the show. This won't be some three episode character arc; this is a proper commitment. And, by the looks of things, it's going to be great.
First of all, the show is based on the book penned by Douglas Adams, who you might know from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy . The author was uniquely talented at creating fantastical, quirky premises that stayed lodged in your brain forever and this sounds like no exception. The novel centers on Dirk Gently, a psychic detective who refuses to accept that he is psychic and just assumes he has a "knack" for striking upon the correct information. Gently believes in the interconnectedness of all things.
Second of all, it's exclusive to BBC America. The BBC has made it especially for its American viewers. This suggests that it'll have just the right amount of British quirkiness, minus the more tricky-to-follow aspects of British viewing (the slang, the arcane cultural references?).
As the above shows, Woods won't be playing the eponymous detective, but his reluctant sidekick, a washed up rock star who gets entangled with Gently. The fact that he is starring, but not playing the lead role, suggests just how far television has come. Woods has a prestigious resume. He's starred in everything from critically-acclaimed indie movies (The Ice Storm, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) to blockbusters (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings series). Arguably, he can pick and choose roles, so the fact that he's chosen to star in a series that, while deeply appealing sounding, is still a slightly arcane choice, suggests that television is the medium absolutely everyone wants to work in at the moment.
And why not? Television's renaissance just seems to be building and building. It's hard to imagine a richer time to be working in the medium. Huge name talent is being attached to shows on the regular (whether Susan Sarandon signing up for the FX show Feud, Drew Barrymore signing up for a Netflix comedy, or Amy Adams working for HBO's Sharp Objects), the number of shows is soaring (with Vulture citing 400 scripted shows on the air in 2015), and diversity in casting improving (see: Rami Malek in Mr Robot, Aziz Ansari in Master of None).
So, in a weird way, Woods' decision to sign on for a totally new, completely bizarre TV series makes so much sense. In 2016, the smartest decision of all is to find a role in a TV show that will capture the public's imagination. And with Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency's mix of Doctor Who-esque whimsy and fantasy and Woods' star credentials, it's sure to take off.
Images: BBC America (2); BBC America/Youtube