A reunion of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg– Stars of the beloved comedy hybrids “Shaun of the Dead, “”Hot fuzz,” and “The end of the world“- should be a lot of fun, especially given the promising concept of Amazon”Truth seekerTo combine humor with another genre again. And yet, this 8-episode comedy is a shocking misfire, a deadly boring affair that feels much longer than its total 4 hour runtime and generates an incredibly small number of actual laughs and thrills. It’s a show that gets so deeply into its supernatural genre that it almost actively avoids the actual comedy itself, but there is nothing that can replace it. It’s understandable, and even admirable, to play the supernatural elements of such a show right away instead of blinking at the camera – and the films Frost / Pegg made for Edgar Wright have a similar strength in taking their genre structure as seriously as they do their comedy – but that makes for a shockingly boring show here. The truth is what Wright does with Frost and Pegg in these films is a lot harder than it looks. Imagine a boring episode of “Ghost adventureWith a little more British humor.
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Created by Frost, Pegg, James Serafinowicz, and Nat Saunders (with each episode of Jim Field Smith), “Truth Seekers” is the story of an average lonely man named Gus (Frost) who works for a company called Smile, one of the UK’s fastest growing broadband companies. His day job gives him access to equipment that he uses for his sideline and hosts a YouTube show about the supernatural called “Truth Seeker”. Gus lives with his indescribable father (Malcolm McDowell) and complains about pretty much anything to his boss Dave (Pegg), who regularly praises Gus as one of the key contributors to the Smile vision.
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In the premiere Gus gets a new work partner named Elton (Samson Kayo) and everything changes. Elton (last name John, believe it or not) appears to have a unique supernatural energy that is quickly improving Gus’ online profile. For example, Gus hears a frequency that has repeatedly broadcast the same number, a true phenomenon known as “number transmitters” that has been discovered around the world since World War I. The repeated “1” that annoyed Gus. Suddenly a ‘5’ is added between jobs after Elton has given this number. Gus senses that there is something unusual about Elton, and he lets him immerse himself in his ghost hunting adventures, which will soon include a third member named Astrid (Emma D’Arcy), who also has a connection to the other side that couldn’t be explained without spoilers, and Elton’s agoraphobic sister Helen (Susan Wokoma) inevitably participates. Even dear old father is involved in this team of viral ghostbusters in his own way.
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Before you know it, Gus, Elton and Astrid are full blown hunters of the supernatural. Even in the premiere, Gus and Elton go out to fix broadband in an old lady’s house and discover that the family dog may never have been fully traversed. For much of the season, Truth Seekers typically changes a new case each episode with a larger plot about a prominent figure in the supernatural community named Dr. Peter Toynbee (Julian Barratt), but some of the isolated cases tie in with the bigger story, so “Truth Seekers” feels like a 4-hour movie. Dr. Toynbee is more than just an expert on things that get restless at night. Closer to a cult leader, he is pushing his followers into increasingly dangerous situations while playing around with powers no mortal should have. Well, that and nanobots.
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Nanobots, number stations, a few “you liveReferences, even the name Toynbee (a nod to the mystery of the Toynbee tile) – everything feels like one Broken List of viral stories of unsolved mysteries comes to life. The problem is, what should be the basis of this show feels about as flat as a list. Nothing that happens on “Truth Seekers” has any depth or power, and the late-season twists and turns about Elton’s background feel cheap and undeserved. Not only does “Truth Seekers” take its supernatural elements so seriously that the writers forgot to write jokes, they forgot to write a gripping horror show. It’s a show that seems content in the middle of the note – not funny, but neither scary or exciting. It just sits there and almost refuses to go too far in any of its genres. It might seem unfair to compare it to Edgar Wright’s work, but Shaun of the Dead got a grip on both horror and comedy, but the principle here seemed to be to do just a little bit of both, and that just doesn’t work.
It doesn’t help that the show isn’t actually Frost / Pegg
Goodbye that the fans might expect. For most of the season, Pegg has one
Scene per episode, and it usually feels compulsory and uncomfortable. He gets
more involved as the season progressed, for the better and surprisingly the most
large Kelly Macdonald shows up in a small role in the middle of the season and shines
Hiked from a much better show on the set. From her first appearance she is
actually do something an eccentric character instead of playing
straightforward work of the general ensemble. Frost clearly didn’t want it
play Gus as a silly loser, but nothing has replaced that approach.
Gus and Elton are boring, which is a fatal mistake on a show they’re on
should drive the action. Ghosts and exorcisms are neat, but nobody cares
if the Ghostbusters aren’t interesting either.
It’s almost frustrating that “Truth Seekers” end up with more potential than where it begins. The season’s revelations about their characters actually put it in a place where a second episode could work. Gus and Elton end the season with more answers about their past, and Pegg and Macdonald seem poised for bigger roles. Narrative, the show feels ready to finally come out of neutrality for a stronger second year. Hopefully they’ll remember to write some jokes next season. [C-]
“Truth Seekers” premieres on October 30th on Amazon Prime.