True to the spirit of The Odd Couple and Laurel and Hardy comes the poignantly funny limited BBC series Detectorists – not Detectives.
Because Andy and Lance (Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones) are BFFs trying to make it in the lonely, rigid and Byzantine world of metal detection.
And by Byzantine I mean Saxon. They’re chasing a Saxon ship rumoured to be buried somewhere in their vicinity, filled with priceless artefacts. Their mutual obsession is funny, sad and human.
The lads devote their every waking moment to “detectoring” and coming up short – the odd toy Chevrolet, pop can pull tables, modern belt buckles but nothing remotely Saxon. Encouraged by a find during the war they persist putting their all into their “work”.
Detectoring however is putting their happiness at stake. Andy’s exasperated girlfriend is reaching the end of her rope as he disappears in search of treasure, earning small change as a casual labourer.
Lance’s situation is dire, he’s still in love with his ex-wife who is now living with an alpha male and accepting Lance’s many and unpaid labours that make him the town laughingstock.
The local detectoring club is a fearsome entity with its personality clashes, loaded elections and losing fundraising efforts. Nothing seems to be paying off and the club is about to be shut down, which by now as we are so attached to the story, seems a heartbreaking prospect.
The series won Best Scripted Comedy and Best Comedy Writing BAFTAs and with good reason. It’s subtle and sweet, profound and at times, heartbreaking. Eccentricity rules. A winner.
Premieres August 17th on Acorn
At the other end of the spectrum is the puzzling Chasing Shadows, a police procedural that throws together two fundamentally different personalities Reece Shearsmith as DS Sean Stone and Alex Kingstone as Ruth Hattersley, a social worker whose empathy allows her to work with him. He has a condition that seems to be common in TV detectives of late, some kind of personality disorder that prevents him from feeling empathy or even the most basic connection to other people but he has a gift for predicting and understanding human behaviour, in this case, that of killers. Shearsmith played a similarly off kilter character in the chilling series The Widower.
Stone is the central figure in the series because he is so complicated and unpredictable. He was demoted from the detective unit to the Missing Persons unit where happily his gifts are put to good use. Even still he puts his job on the line to pursue theories that come to him and he rushes off, leaving Hattersley in his dust. She is patient and recognises that his powers are great. Great viewing on so many levels.
Available now on Acorn
- Land of Mine interview: The harrowing story behind Denmark’s Oscar-nominated war film - 17th February 2017
- Kim Cattrall and Toby Jones shine in Agatha Christie’s The Witness for the Prosecution - 30th January 2017
- Michelle St. John on the tough issues behind her hard-hitting film Colonization Road - 26th January 2017