So much seems to happen on television these days, everything is plot and post-MTV editing, the art of standing still seems to have been lost. We all need to get a hobby, something that keeps us busy, like trainspotting or stamp collecting or indeed, metal detecting. Detectorists is the brainchild of actor Mackenzie Crook, it’s a programme all about the beauty of standing still for a while, of taking in your surroundings and finding a joy in the everyday. It’s also a comedy even if it doesn’t seem like it from that description. Recently, it finished airing its third and final series and as if by magic, here’s a review of that.
The core relationship of the show is Andy (Crook) and Lance (Toby Jones), a pair of friends and part of the local metal detecting club in their fictional Essex town of Danebury and what works best about the show is them, their individual quirks but most importantly their chemistry. It’s not an ‘odd couple’ relationship as much as two people who are similar in many ways, different in some but the actors’ easy chemistry only adds to the gentle realism. It helps that the supporting cast including Rachael Stirling as Andy’s girlfriend & the mother of his child, Becky and (Stirling’s real-life mother) Diana Rigg as Becky’s mother add to the feel by imbuing even the smallest of characters with a warmth and humour. The simple yet effective pastoral tones of Crook’s direction accompanied by a gorgeous original score by Johnny Flynn also complete what is quite a delightful package.
The lighter Mike Leigh feel of the programme is it’s greatest strength and perhaps it’s only weakness as this last season more than the other two, is occasionally let down by getting too engaged in plotlines. It’s not that the small-scale stories that they tell aren’t endearing and engrossing in their own way but it does feel like some of the spirit of the show is lost when it’s not in a field with its metal detector to the ground. It can be forgiven for this as with the final series, comes a need to wrap-up everything, for the most part reaching a satisfactory conclusion for almost every character (with the exception of Aimee-Ffion Edwards’ History student Sophie who is mysteriously unmentioned in her absence), particular credit must go to the resolution reached between Andy & lance with their rivals (Simon Farnaby & Paul Casar), a sweet note that left an unashamed tear in this reviewers eye.
There’s going to be a lot of people for whom, the charms of Detectorists will be lost: many may find it too slight, too slow, too low-stakes but for those who want something that embraces the joy of the mundane, there’s an awful lot to love here. Crook, an actor who always seemed to have never been given the full vehicle for his skill, shows himself over the show to not just be a superb actor but also a writer and director worth keeping an eye on. You will probably not watch a more openly nerdy show than this but equally, I dare you to find one on British TV with a better conclusion than this. I can’t recommend more highly trying out this gem of a show, you might just uncover a treasure hidden away that you’d never thought to look for.
Created by: Mackenzie Crook
Prd: Adam Tandy
Scr: Mackenzie Crook
Starring: Mackenzie Crook, Toby Jones, Rachel Stirling, Gerard Horan, Sophie Thompson, Pierce Quigley, Divian Ladwa, Laura Checkley, Orion Ben.
Episode Run Time: 30mins
No. of Episodes: 6
Detectorists Is Currently Available for Streaming via BBC iPlayer & Netflix and On DVD/Blu-Ray from 18th December.