A team of part-time paranormal investigators use homemade gizmos to track the supernatural, sharing their adventures online. As their haunted stake outs become more terrifying they begin to uncover an unimaginable, apocalyptic conspiracy.
Check out my very spoilery article Truth Seekers: the truth is out there (I mean in here), which covers the characters, episode recaps and “what might happen in Season 2?” Or read my series review, below.
Even if you didn’t know comedy-horror TV series Truth Seekers was British, the female ghost who gleefully shouts out “BUMS AND FANNIES!” would give it away, not least because if she were American that would be basic tautology.
And it is very British, and often suburban – ropy hotels, an obsession with broadband coverage, an obsession with the Beast of Bodmin, a cosplay Dalek – which makes it that much funnier and that much more eerie, its nearness adding the kind of chill you get when you enter a static caravan that hasn’t been aired for a year.
Emerging in a swirl of ectoplasm from Nick Frost’s and Simon Pegg’s production house Stolen Picture, Truth Seekers delivers more one-liners per minute than there are ways devised by 16th century misogynists to prove a woman is a witch.
Broadband installer Gus (Nick Frost), with his Smyle company van HMS Darkside and his homemade ghost-hunting tools, is part ghostbuster and part conspiracy theorist in broadband Britain’s answer to the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine.
Teaming up – unwillingly at first – with trainee installer Elton John (Samson Kayo), Gus soon finds himself in a world where the conspiracy theorists and paranormal believers might actually be right, and where Elton John doesn’t sound like a weird name at all.
Gus’s wife Emily is dead; he now lives with the elderly Richard (Malcolm McDowell), and they treat each other with the familiarity and contempt that can be the mark of father and son relationships.
The eight-part series is about what makes us, us, and uses ghosts, aliens, nanobots and mythical beasts to answer that. It’s also about loneliness and finding your family. The whole series is very funny – thanks not just to the script but the impeccable comic timing, delivered by a topnotch ensemble cast. While the jokes come thick and fast, the scares themselves are impressively realised and mostly unfold with a sincerity that by 2020 is much more effective than irony and fourth wall-breaking. The performances from Frost, McDowell, Kayo and Susan Wokoma, who plays Elton’s sister Helen, are often rather moving.
Broadband company Smyle is run by the badly-wigged Dave (Simon Pegg) who is obsessed with getting Smyle’s broadband coverage up to 100% across the UK. He also adores his chief installer Gus and regularly gives him the choice of installations or fixes to complete, which means Gus can tie his working hours in nicely to his out-of-hours ghost hunting hobby by picking the most haunted-sounding ones.
The growing friendship between Gus (brash, opinionated, extrovert, lonely) and Elton (bright, keen, introvert, lonely) is beautifully realised. One is searching, the other running away, and both are hiding something. In fact everyone is hiding something, with some of the secrets considerably more Earth-shattering than others. Several characters are tentatively trying to tiptoe round the edges of the world: Helen (Wokoma, wonderful) rarely ventures outside, reaching out through her YouTube movie make-up tutorials.
Truth Seekers looks like an homage to Doctor Who – the episode length of Who 1 and the feel of the 2005 reboot, plus jokes – with shades of a South Coast X-Files. The self-contained little mysteries that appear supernatural begin to link up, filling in backstories and pointing to a dangerous future that’s being directed by someone, or something, else.
The deaths, which number quite a few, are testament to British TV budgets – rather than blow up a car with a person in it, they blow up the person in the car only. Messy, more interesting, and ultimately cheaper.
Gus, after decades of finding reassuringly little ghostly evidence suddenly finds himself in a maelstrom of unexplainable weirdness, that increasingly seems to be building to something much, much bigger. It’s a situation that’s both exciting and scary. Subscriptions to his Truth Seeker YouTube channels are on the up, despite his haunted rectory film where he watched a door slam “over nine hours”.
Gus and Elton come across Astrid (Emma D’Arcy) one dark evening when she runs across the road in front of the van. Having witnessed the death of her mother when their kitchen caught fire, she’s now convinced she’s being pursued by her mum’s burnt corpse and the ghost of a plague doctor. (“Casper Syndrome” says Gus confidently, explaining the concept of believing one is being haunted.)
There are flashbacks into history, which occasionally led to me expecting some Horrible Histories-style singsongs that never came; an ancient book written in human blood; mad professors; a conspiracy theorist wrapped in silver foil; several secret doors; misdirections galore; and bestriding the supernatural chaos, the suave, urbane expert on immortality, Dr Peter Toynbee (played by the impossibly handsome Julian Barrett).
While Truth Seekers‘ potential audience is broad, it’s particularly ideal for those of us even slightly concerned that technology might actually make things worse – one character bypasses a building’s biosecurity features using a severed tongue, among other things.
The supernatural phenomena ramp up, becoming more frequent and more obvious. Earth is moving towards a solar eclipse, when something big is going to happen – and I don’t just mean the final roll-out of Smyle’s 6G broadband.
Truth Seekers is a UK Amazon Original series. Check out my very spoilery article Truth Seekers: the truth is out there (I mean in here), which covers the characters, episode recaps and “what might happen in Season 2?”
Watch the Truth Seekers trailer now: