‘Dirk Gently’ Season 2: Max Landis and Robert Cooper Interview

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
A scene from BBC America’s ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.’

BBC America’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency season two promises to be just as bizarre, quirky, and irresistible as the critically acclaimed series’ first season. Series creator/writer Max Landis and executive producer Robert Cooper teamed up at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con to discuss what they have planned for season two, Max’s creative process, and how they were first introduced to the strange world of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently.

Season two of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency will premiere on October 14, 2017 at 9pm ET/PT.

How are you going to top season one?

Max Landis: “Easily. We are going so much stranger in the subject matter, sillier, and weirder and wilder in the plot, bigger in the action, and the character arcs this season just pick up right where you left off and take you in a completely different direction than you see these people going. I mean like, it’s a whole new show but it almost feels like a sequel more than a second season, right?”

Robert Cooper: “Right. And producing it was like that too. We had to start from scratch.”

Tell us about your working relationship. What is the biggest creative disagreement you’ve had on this show?

Robert Cooper: (Laughing) “Do you watch MMA? Have you seen Thunderdome?”

Max Landis: “Actually, I don’t know that Rob and I have ever had a creative disagreement that lasted. We have had a lot of intense creative disagreements in the moment, usually having to deal with the two places Rob and I butt up against each other are actually really weird and they’re not creative. Which is Rob’s worked in television a lot longer and he’s usually right about this, but I have a to b to c things where I’ll go like, ‘No, this can’t happen because this can’t happen because this affects this and this affects that.’ And Rob will go, ‘No, let’s just change it and then change all that, too.’ Or he’ll go, ‘No, no. Just change it and keep that and no one will notice.’

I would say on record, 7 out of 10 times he’s right. But the nice thing is the remaining three times, he lets me have my way. So, the times when I’m right, I get vindicated.”

How would you score that out of 10, Robert?

Robert Cooper: “I don’t know that it can be scored out of 10.”

Max Landis: (Laughing) “Flatly, I couldn’t do the show without Rob. I’m a speedball of ideas and I just have this giant thing, like here’s a million things and then Rob comes in with all his stuff… It’s a matter of the fact that Rob is like, I’m not going to say an adult because he’s not. He looks less colorful than I am but he is equally eccentric and bizarre. It’s just that he’s done this for so long and is so smart about it, and so smart about handling people and talking to people.”

Robert Cooper: “Sometimes it feels like Max is down right on the chess board, running around, fighting with all the various pieces. And I’m able to take a little more top down view and say, ‘Look, here’s the strategy of how we need to go about achieving this the best way we can.’ You know, at the end of the day television is really, unfortunately, dominated by the restrictions of time and money. And so, Max’s imagination has always been somewhat unfettered in the feature world.”

Max Landis: “Has it been unfettered?”

Robert Cooper: “Well, in its original conception. Creatively, then it gets very fettered. But the fact is there’s only so much we can do. That’s not always even just scope or budget, it’s just time and what we’re able to handle in a schedule. You can see it in the show; the show is very vibrant. It has tons of different storylines, tons of different characters, there’s a lot going on. There’s never a scene where it’s just two people talking in a room. There’s always some gag or prop or something important that’s connected.”

Max Landis: “I always have five or six things happening in a scene.”

Robert Cooper: “The show has a bit of ADD, but it works, you know? It’s a matter of being able to contain all that into something that’s really manageable.”

Max Landis: “You say that, but occasionally Rob goes like, ‘Let’s just do it. It’s fine.’”

Robert Cooper: “But you have to. The fact is with television, there’s a weird force that generally pushes everything back towards the middle. If you don’t push it, if you don’t say, ‘Let’s try and do the impossible,’ then you never do anything special. It always ends up kind of mediocre. You have to push the envelope a little bit and you have to take chances. Sometimes you end up failing, but more often than not it’s the only way to get anything good.”

Can you talk a little about your first moments with Dirk Gently? Did you read the book? Did it explode in your head?

Robert Cooper: “Wait, there’s a book? You never told me there was a book!”

Max Landis: “No, I made it up. (Laughing) I was at summer camp and the summer camp had a library. And the library had a book called Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. I was like 14, I think. And I read Long Dark Tea-Time not knowing it was the sequel to Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and I absolutely loved it. It was unlike any book I’d ever read. And, I couldn’t believe how great it was and I stole it from the library at the summer camp. And when I came home, I went to a Barnes & Noble because the internet didn’t really exist yet, and I said, ‘Do you have any other books by this author?’ And they were like, ‘Well, that’s the sequel to Dirk Gently. But do you not know what Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is?’ And I was like, ‘No…’

They didn’t have the book, so I bought an audiotape read by Douglas Adams. I listened to it and then of course I immediately read all of those that were available at the time. And then I read the first Dirk Gently, and in a lot of ways they informed how I read science fiction from that point on. That’s my first encounter with the character. How about you? Was it through me? Was my pilot it?”

Robert Cooper: “Yes.”

Max Landis: “That’s so cool!”

Robert Cooper: “I read his pilot and I was like, ‘Huh!’”

That’s an underwhelming reaction.

Max Landis: (Laughing) “No, that’s huge! For Rob, that’s like screaming. I gasped when he did that.”

More on Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Season 2:
Samuel Barnett and Elijah Wood Interview
Hannah Marks and Jade Eshete Interview
Fiona Dourif and Mpho Koaho Interview
Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine Interview