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Detectorists







The 2014 British series detectorists, about a pair of middle-aged men who search the countryside for ancient treasures, is idiosyncratic and wonderful. wakanomori and I finished watching it a few weeks ago (it only has about 13 episodes), and I've been thinking about it ever since. It's low-key in every aspect, but indelible.

It's cinematographically beautiful: as the credits roll, close-ups of meadow flowers and insects haloed in sunlight alternate with long views of the English countryside, while Johnny Flynn sings, "Will you search the lonely earth for me / climb through the briar and the bramble / I'll be your treasure ... I'm waiting for you" (It's a beautiful song; you can hear it in its entirety here.) That tenderness of gaze is extended to the characters, too, people who would be unremarkable extras in almost any other story, but this show is about digging for what's underneath, and when you live with the characters for 13 episodes, you become really fond of them.

In the first scene of the opening episode, the two main characters, Lance and Andy, are out detecting in a field (the instrument you use when you're detecting is called a metal detector, but the people wielding it are known--at least in their own circle--as detectorists, hence the series title), and Lance finds a ring-pull from a can. He puts it in a plastic baggie with others like it. Andy asks, "What you do with them?" and Lance replies, "Pack 'em up, stick 'em on ebay. People buy this shit." "Sad tits," Andy remarks, and Lance says, "You said it." --got that? The guys who spend their spare time digging up ring-pulls are disparaging the folks who would purchase a ring-pull. I hasten to add that despite those remarks, the two are very good-hearted. But that juxtaposition is an example of the show's humor (though there's also more obvious humor).

Andy on the left, Lance on the right


From there ... small-potatoes stuff just happens, but it ends up being entirely engrossing. They confront rival detectorists who bear an uncanny resemblance to Simon and Garfunkle ...



... They get permission to detect on the land of Mr. Bishop, an eccentric who has a collection of rambunctious dogs that no one but he can see ...



and so on.

The one character I wasn't happy about at first was Andy's girlfriend Becky, who's completely uninterested in Andy's detecting hobby and who, when we first meet her, mocks him in a way that we're supposed to read as affectionate (I think), but which put me off. But eventually she grew on me, especially when she started helping them look for the location of a Saxon ship burial, and there were scenes that persuaded me that she really did love Andy. Their relationship still isn't one **I'd** want to have, but I was able to believe in it as one that was satisfying for **them**.

As for the minor characters, they were all golden, truly.

I also liked learning some detectorist lingo: "can slaw" for cans that have been shredded by agricultural machinery, "BOAT" (bit off a tractor) and "POACH" (piece of a combine harvester)--all things you might find while detecting in a field.

So, if you want something low-key, humorous, and beautiful to look at, you might give detectorists a try. (Here's a trailer for it. It's available on streaming Netflix.)

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
lizziebelle
Mar. 28th, 2017 01:08 am (UTC)
Sounds like fun! I'll have to look for it.
asakiyume
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:50 am (UTC)
Do! And if you do, tell me what you think.
queenoftheskies
Mar. 28th, 2017 02:07 am (UTC)
That sounds like a fun show.
asakiyume
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:35 am (UTC)
It's really understated, but I really liked it! Or maybe that's part of why I really liked it...
queenoftheskies
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:36 am (UTC)
I'm going to have to check it out.
osprey_archer
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:05 am (UTC)
Ooooh, that sounds delightful. I've added it to my DVD queue on Netflix.
asakiyume
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:35 am (UTC)
If you watch it, I'd love to talk with you about it!
sovay
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:39 am (UTC)
Andy on the left, Lance on the right

That's just a great shot of two characters. I'm glad Becky and Andy turned into a relationship you could believe as opposed to having to take on faith.

Saxon ship burial!
asakiyume
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:45 am (UTC)
The viewers end up knowing more about the Saxon ship burial than the characters in a way that's both amusing and poignant.
sovay
Mar. 28th, 2017 08:10 am (UTC)
The viewers end up knowing more about the Saxon ship burial than the characters in a way that's both amusing and poignant.

Nice!
teenybuffalo
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:43 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like it. The skinny guy on the left in the first photo is also the show creator, Mackenzie Crook, who I know and love because he was one of Those Two Pirates from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. I once went all the way to New York to see him in "The Seagull" as Konstantin (he was lovably, heartbreakingly pretentious). I am tickled pink that he's gone on to create new cool stuff.

Initially I was put off of trying "Detectorists" because the dynamic of "Guys do fun, silly thing and are bros, a humorless woman screeches at them to grow up and be serious" was all over the preview. It's a relief that that's not actually the prevailing mood.
asakiyume
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:49 am (UTC)
Yes, that's EXACTLY what put me off. I HATE that trope. HATE with a fiery passion. There was a point at episode four or so when I though I was gong to quit the show because of a combination of that and a gawd-awful love triangle that I couldn't BELIEVE was showing up. Happily, the series pulled itself back on track.

Becky still isn't a brilliant character, but I did end up liking her better. Did you know the actress is Diana Rigg's daughter? And Diana Rigg plays her mother in the show!

Andy's great--what an amazing face he has.
pigshitpoet
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:49 am (UTC)
this looks like fun.

wish i was in britain
asakiyume
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:50 am (UTC)
If you have Netflix (or know someone who does...) you can watch it here in the states!
gracegiver
Mar. 28th, 2017 04:31 am (UTC)
Cool. We'll begin it tomorrow night. Thanks for the recommendation, seems like most of my Watch List comes from my LJ friends.
asakiyume
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:43 pm (UTC)
Same here! Music recs, as well.
heleninwales
Mar. 28th, 2017 02:16 pm (UTC)
I loved that show! My husband thought it was stupid, but I made time to watch all the episodes on my own.
asakiyume
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:42 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you liked it! I was wondering if any of my UK friends would have seen it, and if so, what they thought about it.
puddleshark
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:40 pm (UTC)
I like understated, and I think I'm going to have to give that a try! Thank you.
asakiyume
Mar. 28th, 2017 03:42 pm (UTC)
If nothing else, you'll appreciate the evident, unspoken love of the land--but I think you'll find the story reels you in, too.
egg_shell
Apr. 2nd, 2017 11:57 am (UTC)
Thanks for the heads up for this show - we watched it last night and loved it. But now the disappointment - we can't get more than the first year cause we can't stream. Baa!
asakiyume
Apr. 2nd, 2017 11:58 am (UTC)
Oh that stinks! Do you know if they plan eventually to offer the second season on DVD?
egg_shell
Apr. 2nd, 2017 01:18 pm (UTC)
Don't know - but I see we can watch it online (not in netflix) in low def. We count on having closed captioning cause neither one of us has great hearing anymore. So it's not as good as netflix discs would be.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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