On the surface, nothing about the world of metal detection seems very exciting, but the chemistry and slow-burn characterizations in this quirky comedy bring it to life. Detectorists' heroes, Andy (Crook, of The Office (UK) and the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise) and Lance (Jones), spend most of their time wandering up and down fields, discovering discarded pull tabs and recapping last night's TV trivia challenges. As well as starring, Crook also writes and directs Detectorists, which slowly builds its comedy out of character development, similar to recent American sitcoms like Parks & Recreation or GLOW. For example, a few episodes go by before Becky (Stirling) meets the student with whom her live-in boyfriend Andy has been flirting, and the show takes plenty of time to get to know each of the three of them. The subsequent confrontation doesn't even occur on-screen, but provides one of the best sight gags of the first season.
Once Detectorists hits its stride, it has established more than a dozen unique characters and relationships, each with their own funny and endearing personality quirks. Even minor characters have their moments to shine, like the DMDC president's overly supportive wife, who, at a fundraising meeting, suggests the club do a nude calendar. For this reason, it's the type of show that could get funnier with multiple viewings. At one point, Andy has to buy a replacement metal detector, and the only thing he can afford is a cheap, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers-themed one. It's a great setup that is funny in and of itself and also allows the other characters to mercilessly riff on Andy having to detect ancient treasure using a kid's toy. But what really makes the moment work is how deeply the show has invested in Andy's passion to that point. His humiliation is only complete because we know how much he cares.