‘Detectorists: Season 1’ on Netflix and Acorn

Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook in the BBC comedy 'Detectorists.'

Mackenzie Crook (who played Gareth in the original British The Office) writes, directs, and stars in Detectorists: Season 1 as Andy, one half of a team of obsessed detectorists (the correct name for someone who uses a metal detector, as they are quick to remind anyone and everyone) searching for ancient Saxon treasures in their little pocket of rural Great Britain. Andy lives with his longtime girlfriend (Rachael Stirling), who doesn’t share his obsession but understands his passion and his connection to the eccentric characters of their local club, while his best friend Lance (Toby Jones) still moons over his flaky ex-wife (Lucy Benjamin), who constantly takes advantage of Lance’s fantasies of winning her back from her self-absorbed boyfriend.

The half-hour comedy is set within a distinctive little culture of folks whose idea of a good time is taking their metal detectors to open fields for hours on end, pushing through coins and nails and beer can pop tops strewn through the sod in the hopes of unearthing ancient history. The humor, however, is amiably low key and the easy pace focuses on the characters, their frustrations, and their very human core. Crook lingers on throwaway conversations between Andy and Lance, easygoing moments that define their friendship, and the bad decisions that threaten to unravel the things that really matter: friendship, romance, trust. The meandering pace gives the series the space to settle in to the characters and their culture and the underplayed humor allows the actors to fill out the characters.

The series was produced for BBC and the six half-hour episodes of the first season provides a satisfying arc while leaving things open for a second season, which has already been announced on British TV.

Queue it up on Netflix or watch it on Acorn.

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears in Vulture, Turner Classic Movies online, Keyframe, and Parallax View.

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