Nick Frost outstanding in new Amazon vehicle
Ghost hunters and other paranormal “documentary” series are a guilty pleasure of mine. I don’t take them seriously, and I can’t even articulate exactly what it is I like about them – but there it is. I’m a sucker for the paranormal shows.
I’m also a sucker for Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. So, when I saw that Frost and Pegg – the British comedy duo best known for movies like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End – had a new show on Amazon that was a take-off on my guilty pleasure, I was more than a little intrigued.
Truth Seekers wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but I was not a bit disappointed. For one, the show isn’t really so much a Frost and Pegg vehicle as it is Nick Frost’s show, with Pegg in a supporting role. In their films and Frost’s and Pegg’s other television show, Spaced, (which I highly recommend) the two play a buddy duo with Pegg – Shaun in Shaun of the Dead – usually playing the central character and Frost taking on the “best friend” supporting role.
In Truth Seekers the shows central character is Gus Roberts, played by Frost, an installation engineer with Smyle broadband who is also a paranormal investigator with his own YouTube channel. Pegg plays his catastrophically coiffed boss, Dave. While Dave is essential to the plot, with some obviously deeper backstory, he isn’t central to the show.
It’s still a buddy show at it’s heart, though. It’s just that this time Frost is in the lead and his reluctant partner in all the paranormal shenanigans that ensue, Elton John (played by Samson Kayo), is the one along for the ride instead of Pegg.
Kayo and Frost work well together, and Kayo’s Elton John is lowkey and dryly hilarious in his interactions with Frost and other. For instance, a subtle Lionel Ritchie “Hello” joke, that will only resonate with music fans and people of a certain generation, works as well as it does only because of Kayo’s stone faced delivery.
The show also does a good job of balancing the self-contained episodic storylines with an overarching tale and theme that carries through to the first season finale.
Frost and Kayo work well together.
It’s the dynamic between Frost and Malcolm McDowell as family members that really ends up being as touching as it is telling, though. McDowell’s character – Dad to Frost and Richard to everyone else – is an interesting mirror and counterpoint to Frost’s own loneliness after the loss of his wife, Emily. His eagerness to build a new friendship with Elton’s agoraphobic sister, Helen – played by Susan Wokoma – is also delightful and heartwarming. Compared to his gentle sparring with Frost, Frost’s increasingly complicated relations with his new friend and co-worker Kayo, and Kayo’s burgeoning romantic relationship with Emma D’Arcy, who plays Astrid, Richard’s and Helen’s friendship gets to the heart of what Truth Seekers is really about; relationships and how much we need them.
Even Julian Barratt, as the villain, reflects the lengths others are willing to go to in order to be part of something bigger than themselves in his interactions with his followers.
It isn’t the hilarious pop culture roasting of Spaced, which had many legitimate laugh out loud moments and running gags. Instead, it’s a drier, more subtle humor that, with the overarching storyline and self-contained episodes, probably shares more in common with Doctor Who than with Monty Python. But Truth Seekers is a fantastic send-up of the paranormal investigator genre that has plenty of fun moments for fans of those shows and sci-fi/fantasy/horror.
There are plenty of Easter eggs for fans of the paranormal and conspiracy theories as well. For instance, Barratt’s character, Dr. Peter Toynbee, is likely a nod to the Toynbee tiles – a series of enigmatic tiles found embedded in asphalt streets across the United States and South American cities. In another episode they go to the infamous Bodmin Moor, in Cornwall, in search of the Beast of Bodmin, one of Great Britain’s most celebrated “ABCs” (alien big cats).
There are also hidden passages, shadowy conspiracies, misinformation campaigns, witchcraft, curses, the transmigration of souls, paranormal tourist traps, interdimensional theory, and more. About the only esoteric topic of study that isn’t touched upon is the UFO phenomenon, and I wouldn’t complain about an appearance of Nessie or some faery lore, but there’s always the second season.
Season one of Truth Seekers is available streaming on Amazon Prime Video now.
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