BBC detective series features quirky Gently
This is a thin week when it comes to new DVD releases.
• “Dirk Gently,” Grade B: This quirky detective series from the BBC falls somewhere between the weirdness of “Psych” and the sleuthing of “Elementary,” with a dash of insanity only Douglas Adams (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) can bring. This is the first time the four-part series has been available to American audiences.
Stephen Mangan (“Episodes”) plays Dirk Gently, a holistic detective who bases his investigations on the idea that nothing happens randomly and everything in the universe is connected. This concept and a unique plot device in the first episode reflect the kind of out-there thinking that made Adams so popular.
It’s one thing to be weird. It takes just the right actor to make it work. Mangan is brilliant as he makes you at times think Gently is nothing more than a con man, but he shows the complication of the character as he slowly reveals the brilliance of how Gently’s mind works. He makes the different kind of detective funny, sweet and often annoying – but always entertaining.
• “Hemingway & Gellhorn” Grade C-plus: An over-the-top cable production that looks at the relationship between Ernest Hemingway (Clive Owen) and Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman), played out against the backdrop of war.
Kidman seems a little bored, despite playing one of the most significant war correspondents of the 20th century who also was the third wife of Hemingway, from 1940 to 1945. It’s surprising the performance is so off base because the relationship between Gelhorn and Hemingway was born in the heat of war and fanned by the passion they had for writing and each other. Part of the problem is that Owen seems equally dispassionate in his portrayal of Hemingway.
Also new on DVD April 2:
“Hello, Dolly!”: Gene Kelly directed this movie musical starring Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau.
“Route 66: The Complete Fourth Season”: TV drama about two buddies (Martin Milner, Glenn Corbett) who find adventure on the open road.
“Cheyenne: The Complete Fifth Season”: Clint Walker stars in this TV Western.
“Nova: Rise of the Drones”: A look at the technologies that make drones so powerful.
“Knuckleball”: Documentary that delves into the subculture of the knuckleball and the brotherhood of men who throw baseball’s most mysterious pitch.
“Tormented”: Director Takashi Shimizu takes a look into childhood fears.
“Kristen Schaal: Live at the Fillmore”: Concert performance by the stand-up comedian.
“Fireman Sam: Mighty Mountain Heroes”: Fireman Sam stars in six action-packed rescue adventures.
“Jackie Robinson: My Story”: First-person docudrama that blends historic footage with a dramatic portrayal of Robinson by actor Stephen Hill.
“Earth’s Final Hours”: A group of government agents are the only ones who can save the world from a new ice age.
“John Dies at the End”: Two college dropouts must save the world.
“The Kick”: A family becomes the target of a criminal gang.
“Frontline: The Untouchables: Money, Power and Wall Street”: Martin Smith investigates why the U.S. Department of Justice has failed to act on credible evidence that Wall Street knowingly packaged and sold toxic mortgage loans to investors.
“13 Eerie”: Six forensic undergrads battle zombie convicts. Brendan Fehr stars.