October 10, 2016

Finding Treasure: The Detectorists

Riches hidden in deep, dark caves and buried deep and forgotten in the earth are the stuff of dreams and fairy tales. Think of the caves in "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," or "The Tinder Box" or the stalk leading to gold in "Jack and the Beanstalk."

All of these stories tell of everyday guys suddenly becoming rich. And we've probably all dreamed of  sudden riches through the lottery or some lost rich relatives. These are the the little stories we tell to take us through the mundanity of regular life.

And then there is the absolutely delightful, enchanting British TV show The Detectorists.

Set in a fictional town in northern Essex, The Detectorists, is one of the most ravishingly pretty shows I've ever seen. The countryside of Essex must seem like heaven to its inhabitants. The camera lingers on flowers and fields and bees and blue skies. Surely no ball Cinderella dreams about could be more lovely than Essex in the summer: I want to go there!

So how does this little, gentle comedy relate to dreams of riches found in fairy tales? The Dectorists are members of a metal detecting club. They dream of finding Saxon or Roman gold. The two extremely ordinary main characters have the usual humdrum lives of 21st century folk, much like the characters at the beginning of fairy tales. They fail to find gold. They struggle with everyday love and life, just like the rest of us. Indeed, the ordinariness of Andy Stone (Mackenzie Crook) and Lance Stater (Toby Jones) is a huge part of the show's pleasingly slow and gentle feel. Yet, the show is often subtly sharp humor and isn't always happy. It's not a sweet show, but for fans of big, loud laugh track comedies, slow TV that is The Dectorists is probably not going to have much appeal. 

But for those of us who still dream gently of a life less ordinary, The Detectorsits is a fairy tale of a show full of weirdness and hopes and the real love of friends. It's available in the US on Netflix, and if you are a lucky British viewer, you already know about it.

(The photo shows Lance on the left and Andy on the right.)


  1. The Detectorists is a gem! I love the fact that it is about normal life, and the way we escape it. The performances are subtle and endearing, the scenery is beautiful, and Johnny Flynn's music is gorgeous! I was disappointed in the second series, though, as it veered away from the message that it's ok to be ordinary. But I love the first season:)

  2. I really enjoy this show as well. One of the things I like about it is that each show is only a half hour long. The idea of treasure hunting makes me think of pirates or Aladdin so it does relate well to fantasy and fairy tale yet it brings into play that gritty element of real life that sometimes messes with all your hopes and dreams coming true.