The metal-detecting hobbyists of the “Detectorists” have a hard time finding a fortune, but they dig up comedy gold for viewers.
“Detectorists,” which aired in Britain in 2014 and earned 2015 BAFTA wins for Scripted Comedy and Comedy Writing, gets its U.S. premiere at 9 a.m. Aug. 17 when Acorn TV* streams all six episodes. It’s a treasure trove of great writing, clever jokes and wonderful performances.
Mackenzie Crook (“Games of Thrones,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” British “The Office”) writes, directs and stars in the series. He plays Andy, an aimless temp worker who lives with his loving and lovely girlfriend Becky (Rachael Stirling) yet spends most of his free time with his best mate Lance.
Lance, played beautifully by Toby Jones (“Captain America,” “Wayward Pines”), and Andy are bound by their hobby. As dedicated members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club, they trudge the fields of Essex hoping to find Saxon gold, weapons or other valuable artifacts. Instead, they discover aluminum wrappers, Hot Wheels and beer can ring pulls.
They get a bit fussy when people call them detectors. “These are metal detectors,” Andy says as he points to their equipment. “We’re detectorists.”
Lance, always ready with a wisecrack, calls the people who buy the ring pulls on e-Bay “sad gits.” There’s no irony in his statement, yet he and Andy are the sad sacks. With their eyes constantly aimed down at their metal detectors, they don’t see—more likely ignore—how stuck they are in their lives.
Andy, oblivious to what a find he has in Becky, is distracted by cute young history student Sophie (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) who joins the DMDC. When Becky catches him holding Sophie’s hand, his attempts to apologize are awkward and hilarious. She finally takes him back, but only after he says he’d be lost without her—because she knows how to work the TV remote.
Outwardly, Lance can be a bit rude and cocky, but all that bluster hides a broken heart. His ex-wife has taken up with a buff Pizza Hut manager who is so lazy he can’t be bothered to help her around her gift shop. Lance, still so in love he doesn’t see that his ex is using him, remains her errand boy.
The boys are challenged by two rival detectorists who Lance immediately takes to calling Simon and Garfunkel because of their appearance. Both pairs race to detect the remains of a Saxon village that has become something of an urban legend. It reportedly lies buried on land owned by a mad farmer they suspect may have murdered his wife.
The series revels in its eccentric characters and wistful tone with an unhurried style American viewers may not be used to seeing. But these quirky country folks certainly stick with you. Bittersweet and quietly funny, “Detectorists” is quite a find.
* RLJ Entertainment’s Acorn TV (acorn.tv) streams British and other international shows in North America. Acorn TV offers new members a 30-day free trial when they sign up after which the service is $4.99 per month.