Nick Frost stars as Gus, working “the most boring job you could have,” installing broadband across the country for Smyle. Managed by the mysterious Dave (Simon Pegg in a bad wig), there is definitely more to this internet provider than meets the eye. Gus uses his job as a cover to perform amateur paranormal investigation, which he films for his YouTube channel The Truth Seeker.
Gus was turned onto the paranormal by his deceased wife. He uses a mix of homemade gadgets and a makeshift paranormal activity unit in the back of his work van to investigate the spooky. He is soon joined by new co-worker Elton John (Samson Kayo), where they end up on a string of installation jobs in haunted buildings.
Elton and his agoraphobic sister Helen (Susan Wokoma) are clearly hiding something. Helen won’t leave the house, making YouTube makeup tutorials and costumes to Comic Cons she will never attend. Elton has worked a string of jobs and seems to have a backstory that doesn’t quite add up.
Also joining the team is Astrid (Emma D’Arcy), who is being chased by ghosts, ghouls and a menacing character in a fittingly macabre plague doctor mask. A real standout is Gus’ father-in-law Richard (Malcolm McDowell), a curmudgeon burden for Gus who can’t work technology and always needs to get home in time for The Chase. Most of the comedy comes through Richard and his budding friendship with Helen. McDowell, often known for his villainous and boisterous scenes, has a real eye for comedy.
Truth Seekers starts as a little monster-of-the-week show. The team stake out haunted churches, underground bunkers and abandoned hospitals, using nothing but homemade ghost-detective gadgets. At times, a little on the junior side considering the humour, it’s less reminiscent of Shaun of the Dead and more like Doctor Who.
Truth Seekers does gain momentum as the team uncover a conspiracy that could bring about Armageddon and end the entire human race. Somehow at the middle of this is Dr. Peter Toynbee (Julian Barratt), who is part cult leader part, part conspiracy theorist.
Pegg and Frost, who wrote the series with Nat Saunders and James Serafinowicz, manage to link together all the strands left throughout the season. The tone is a little strange, one minute it feels like a family show, but the next minute there are jokes about masturbation and graphic violence. It also has a strange trans-Atlantic sense to it. The jokes feel very British but some of the setups feel more like the type of American show you’d find on the CW or NBC. Truth Seekers has heart and it has characters you would happily watch a series double the eight-episode length of this debut season.
There isn’t as many laugh out loud moments as you may expect from a show with Pegg and Frost’s involvement. A few chuckles here and there, but it feels more like a Supernatural, Doctor Who or X-Files type show rather than a Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. Compared to their earlier shows, like Spaced, Truth Seekers feels a little more polished and a little less like a cult classic.
It’s clear by the final four episodes that Truth Seekers has a lot of potential moving forward. Once the show hits its stride it’s incredibly bingeable. Hopefully, should there be a second series, they need to better understand who this is for. If it’s for families, tone down the violence and crude humour. If it’s for adults, elevate the horror, gore and humour.
Truth Seekers sits oddly in the canon of Pegg/Frost collaborations. As neither a horror or a comedy, it has a lot of potential but it really needs to understand its audience and its tone.
Truth Seekers will be available to stream exclusively on Amazon Prime from October 30th
by Amelia Harvey
Amelia is a freelance writer, frustrated novelist and occasional wrangling of international students. She is especially interested in LBGTQ culture and 1960s and 70s music. She also writes for Frame Rated, The People’s Movies and Unkempt Magazine, amongst others. Her favourite films include Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Moulin Rouge and Closer. You can find her on Twitter @MissAmeliaNancy and letterboxd @amelianancy