asakiyume: (glowing grass)

The 2014 British series detectorists, about a pair of middle-aged men who search the countryside for ancient treasures, is idiosyncratic and wonderful. [ profile] 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.)

September 2017

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