NY Comic-Con: BBC America Teases ‘Dirk Gently,’ ‘Doctor Who’ Spin-Off

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (Photo: BBC America)
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Photo: BBC America)

Day 2 of New York Comic Con dawned with a veddy British affair as BBC America assembled the cast and crews of three of the network’s upcoming series for a meet the press event. One of those shows needs no introduction: Doctor Who, the beloved sci-fi serial that has delighted multiple generations of geeks stretching all the way back to 1963. But Anglophiles and sci-fi aficionados might not yet be in a first-name basis with BBC America’s two newest series, the Douglas Adams-derived detective comedy Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and the latest Doctor Who spin-off Class.

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To get audiences familiar with these freshman shows, as well as the new incarnation of Doctor Who — which is celebrating its 10th season by welcoming a new companion (Pearl Mackie) and saying farewell to a showrunner (Steven Moffat) — the network brought along fresh footage to share. In the case of Dirk Gently, the new two-minute sneak peek put to rest any worries that the Max Landis-adapted series won’t capture the full comic flavor of Adams’s books. “There’s a repeated tendency in adapting Adams’ work to adapt what happens in the book rather than how it happens,” the prolific writer (and Tweeter) said. “The texture of the storytelling is the star of every book.” Series star Samuel Barnett, who plays the titular sleuth, also says that Adams fans (like himself) won’t be disappointed. “Although we’ve had to create new characters, and a new location for Dirk to be in, it feels very authentic to the books. There are a number of things that superfans of the books will notice are directly lifted from the page.”

Devoted Doctor Who companions will have to wait until April to see footage of the 10th season and Mackie’s Bill, who joins the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) behind the TARDIS controls in a premiere that Moffat describes as an all-new Episode 1. “It’s very much like ‘An Unearthly Child’ or ‘Rose’ in that way,” he said, referring to the first episodes of the 1963 Doctor Who and the 2005 episode of the revival respectively. “We play the game of introducing all the mad levels of what the doctor is like.” One thing that won’t be changing is the show’s tradition of doing a special Christmas episode, which will co-star British comic Matt Lucas. “There’s no other show that has an audience of this age range,” Capaldi marveled. “When you’re doing a scene, you have to remember you’re not just entertaining an audience of six hipsters; you’re also entertaining 7-year-olds!”

Capaldi is a class act all the way, and he lends some of his star power to the teaser trailer for Class, a Doctor Who-adjacent series in the tradition of Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and K-9. Don’t remember the last one about a cute robotic dog? That’s okay — Class creator Patrick Ness has never seen it either. “K-9 was on before I moved to England,” he said, laughing. “It’s quite difficult to find!” Instead, Ness is taking his cue from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which he calls “the greatest television show of all time.” Set at the prestigious Coal Hill Academy, the series will follow a group of students who have recently been visited by the Doctor. “What’s always been interesting to me is the Doctor goes on these adventures every week and then goes on the next one. What happens to the people who stay behind?”

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency premieres Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on BBC America; Doctor Who and Class premiere 2017 on BBC America.