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Josh Reviews Truth Seekers Season One

I’m a huge fan of Spaced, the British TV show starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and directed by Edgar Wright, that ran from 1999-2001.  And of course I enjoyed the “Cornetto Trilogy” of movies (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End).  And so I was excited to see Nick Frost and Simon Pegg re-team for a new TV series: Truth Seekers, a horror/comedy series about a group of internet technicians who explore the paranormal.

Truth Seekers was created by Mr. Frost, Mr. Pegg, and James Serafinowicz and Nat Saunders.  All four are the credited writers on the season’s eight half-hour episodes; all eight were directed by Jim Field Smith.

Nick Frost is the main character, the good-natured but slightly haunted (literally and figuratively) Gus.  Gus works for Smyle, a large internet company; he’s their best technician.  When not at work, Gus posts “Truth Seekers” internet videos, in which he investigates paranormal and other spooky stories and places.  It’s a lot of fun to see Mr. Frost in the central role!  He’s great; effortlessly funny and dramatic.  (The series calls on him to alternate between both tones, and he makes it looks beautifully naturalistic.)  Samson Kayo plays Elton John, the young Smyle employee assigned to Gus as his new partner.  Elton has no interest in the paranormal, but for some reason he seems to be a magnet for it, much to Gus’ delight.  Mr. Kayo is great fun as the beleaguered Elton; I loved his chemistry with Mr. Frost.  Emma D’Arcy plays Astrid, a young woman whose real-life experiences with ghosts brings her into the path of Gus and Elton.  I didn’t feel the show’s stories gave Astrid as much depth as Gus and Elton, but Ms. D’Arcy was very endearing and charismatic in the role.  These three actors together made a great group.  They made a solid core trio for the show.  Each was interesting in their own way, and I also liked how they felt more like normal every-day people than the main characters in TV shows often do.

Simon Pegg has a small role in the show as David, the head of Smyle.  Mr. Pegg is very funny as always, and I liked the way the show slowly broadened David’s role in the stories as the season progressed.  Then there’s the great Malcolm McDowell, who played Richard, Gus’ codger-like father-in-law.  Mr. McDowell was phenomenal!!  He was my favorite character on the show!  Mr. McDowell was absolutely perfect as this gruff old fellow who has a good heart buried deep down beneath.  I loved this character.  He’s a big reason to watch this show.

I also enjoyed Susie Wokoma as Helen, Elton John’s anxious and cosplay-loving sister; and Kelly Macdonald (Gosford Park, No Country for Old Men, Boardwalk Empire) was terrific in a small role late in the season as the shut-in conspiracy theorist “Jojo74”.

Truth Seekers is something of an odd duck of a TV show.  It wasn’t quite funny enough or scary enough to really grab my attention.  It sat in a weird middle-ground.  I respect the series for striking its own tone and trying to be different from other shows whose feet were planted more firmly in either the comedy or mystery/horror ground.  But at the same time, the show never quite got its teeth into me as deeply as I suspect it wanted to.

Still, it was an enjoyably fun watch, and I liked seeing the talented ensemble at play.  I enjoyed the gentle continuity between episodes.  Each episode was a stand-alone story; with a different paranormal mystery each week.  Balancing that, certain storylines and character-arcs developed from episode to episode, giving the season a pleasing momentum.  It was fun to see our band of bumbling enthusiasms eventually forced to confront a Big Bad villain.

The sci-fi/horror stories were solid.  I enjoyed the different weird little tales we got in each episode.  On the one hand, I enjoyed that each episode had a relatively brisk run-time (around 25 minutes).  That was good for the show over-all.  The down-side was that some of the stories might have benefitted from a little more time each week to develop them into something a little more complex, a little more memorable.

The season comes to a satisfying conclusion; it was nice to see things wrapped up in a pleasing way that allowed me, as a viewer, to feel that I’d been told a complete story.  At the same time, the finale’s concluding scene planted some intriguingly twisty suggestions of different directions the show could head in season two.  I was excited by that, though news of the series’ cancellation by Amazon has scuttled those plans.  It’s a shame, but I must also admit that I’m not too heartbroken.  I’m glad to have seen Truth Seekers, but its cancellation isn’t one of the great TV tragedies, in my opinion.  (Though of course I’m sorry for all of the people who’d worked so hard on the show.)

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