It’s that time of year where companies are starting to package up “gift” ideas. While not normally a big fan of these things, one I’d recommend you buy for anyone you even remotely like is Acorn Media’sDetectorists: Complete Collection
Not only is this show one of the most genuinely funny pieces of television to come along in decades, it manages to be so without ever resorting to crudity or insults. In fact, it does a magnificent job of celebrating the wonderfulness of being a little different and the joys of oddity.
The three leads of the show, Toby Jones as the strange but essentially good Lance, Mackenzie Crook, as the likeable, albeit slightly lost, Andy, and Rachel Stirling as Andy’s patient and loving partner Becky are all wonderful. Not only do they bring their characters to life with an ease that’s beautiful to watch, their chemistry on screen together is great.
Crook is not just responsible for his character, he wrote and directed the entire series. His ear for dialogue, especially comedy is remarkable. He can create humour out of what seems to be the most innocuous of dialogue. You’d never expect a conversation about swedes (turnips) to be funny, but he somehow manages it.
Vegetables aside, the primary focus of this show is, of course, metal detecting. I think this hobby/obsession is probably more popular in Great Britain than over here in North America, but we can all relate to the thrill of searching for treasure. Given Great Britain’s history, Roman and Danish invaders bringing their wealth of gold with them, it’s no surprise people believe an ordinary farmer’s field could still be harbouring a secret stash of wealth.
Andy and Lance spend most of their free time combing local fields looking to find every detectorists dream – gold or some other hidden hoard of treasure. No matter how many ring pulls from drinks cans or toy cars they pull out of the dirt they remain undaunted in the face of adversary and continue searching.
Of course they’re not the only detectorists. Throughout the course of the three seasons we meet their fellow detectorists in the Danebury Metal Detecting Club and their fierce adversaries the Antiquasearchers – latter known as the DirtSharks.
What’s wonderful about all the characters is each, from the leads to the various club members, could easily be been objects of ridicule. However, they have been brought to life with such attention to detail we can’t help but feel genuine affection for all of them.
While some might think that the attraction of being a detectorist lies in the potential for discovering treasure, there’s no denying part of the appeal must come from spending so much time in nature. Sure they go out in all weather, but the cinematography lets us also see the wonderful beauty of a field on a summer’s day.
Close ups of flowers and insect life bring us into the beauty of the world detectorists inhabit. You can understand how they can spend a day wandering fields in the vague hopes of finding treasure. As the show’s theme song by Johnny Flynn suggests its not just found in gold and jewels, but everywhere, and we see that in every episode.
This set not only contains all the episodes from the show’s three seasons on five DVDs, it includes special features for each season. These include behind the scenes footage of filming and interviews with the cast. Some of the interviews are almost as funny as the show which makes you realize how much fun the actors had working on it.
The Detectorists is a genuinely unique show in a world where almost everything makes a habit of imitating something else. Detectorists: Complete Collection is a wonderful way of bringing that lovely world into your home.
(Originally posted at Blogcritics.org as DVD Review: Detectorists: Complete Collection)
Richard Marcus is the author of two commissioned works published by Ulysses Press, editor in the books section of Blogcritics.org and contributor at Qantara.de. He has been writing since 2005 and his work has appeared in publications all over the world including the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine.