A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Detectorists is a very low-stakes comedy about two middle-aged friends in a small community of metal detector hobbyists. The show's conflicts and concerns are delightfully mundane, and most of the humor is subtle. The storylines feel very adult, in that characters deal with loneliness, relationships, aging, and reconciling the dreams they had when younger (like finding buried gold in a field) with reality. Detectorists moves very slowly and steadily, but if viewers stick with the show, the characters' quirks will become endearing and funny. Teens who like dry British comedies will find this a welcome addition to the canon.
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What's the story?
Andy (Mackenzie Crook) and Lance (Toby Jones) are metal DETECTORISTS, who spend a great deal of time combing the fields of their neighboring towns for hidden treasures. Mostly, they find useless artifacts such as pull tabs and buttons, but they dream of one day finding gold (and then doing the detectorist community's traditional gold dance). They belong to a society of local metal detectorists, the Danebury Metal Detecting Club (DMDC), which even has a rival group of detectorists called the AntiquiSearchers. At the start of the show, the groups are competing to gain access to a local farm where King Sexred of the East Saxons may be buried with his treasure -- and where a murder also may have taken place.
Lance maintains a relationship with his ex-wife, Maggie, who runs a new-age shop, and her new beau, Steve, the manager of a Pizza Hut. Andy lives with his longtime girlfriend Becky (Rachael Stirling). But when a young history student named Sophie (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) joins the DMDC, it complicates Andy's feelings for Becky.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about hobbies. Metal detectorists Andy and Lance spend a large amount of their time scanning empty fields for treasure. They are utterly devoted to their hobby. How does this affect their relationships with the non-detectorists in their lives? How does it inform their friendship with one another and their fellow detectorists?
Families can talk about how Andy and Lance treat the women in their lives. When Andy meets history student Sophie, why does he lie about being single? How does this affect his relationships with Sophie, Becky, and Lance? How would you characterize Lance's relationship with his ex-wife, Maggie?
Families can talk about the differences between British and American comedy. How do American comedies get a laugh? How does Detectorists go about building its comedy? Why do these differences seem so pronounced?
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