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Amazon’s Truth Seekers: Season 1 Review

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Though it may seem futile to release anything opposite the premiere of The Manadalorian Season 2, that series’ weekly release model allows for other shows to butt in during this Halloween weekend, for those looking for an engaging, gently-spooky binge. And Truth Seekers, from Shaun of the Dead masterminds Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, is a light, mysterious romp through the realm of the sinister and supernatural.Created by Pegg and Frost, along with James Serafinowicz and Nat Saunders, Truth Seekers lovingly borrows from Ghostbusters, The X-Files, various ghost hunting shows, and many other paranormal pop culture paragons to craft a fun, heartfelt adventure series carved out of the quaint English countryside. It’s not a laugh-riot, per se, like you might expect from an Edgar Wright movie starring Pegg and Frost, but it is a crafty and capable caper that’ll pull you along with a smirk thanks to a fun ensemble and nicely constructed story.

Tonally, think along the lines of Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners, which was able to be both ludicrous and quite menacing.In Truth Seekers – which features Frost as the lead and Pegg in a supporting/recurring role – Frost plays Gus, a widowed broadband internet installer who moonlights as a ghost hunter, visiting some of England’s creepier crypts for his paltry YouTube channel. And with Gus come a few puzzles: What happened to his late wife? Why the interest in things-that-go-bump? Why is he reluctant to partner with anyone?

From there, the mysteries just keep growing as Gus’ circle expands. His rookie co-worker Elton (Samson Kayo) has a mysterious past involving working just about every job imaginable for short periods of time. Elton’s sister, Helen (Susie Wokoma), is agoraphobic, having experienced some sort of past trauma. And there’s Astrid (Emma D’Arcy), an enigmatic loner who storms into Gus and Elton’s lives as a young woman being hunted by haunted things.

Truth Seekers nicely shapes its ensemble as it moves through its eight-episode run – including Malcolm McDowell as Gus’ crotchety father-in-law (and yes, there is a Clockwork Orange nod) Richard – while also maintaining, mostly, an episodic quality to it. Everything is more or less connected, and things do get fully serialized by the final episodes, but the rest are broken up by locations and haunts and given fun names like “The Haunting of Connoly’s Nook” and “The Ghost of the Beast of Bodmin.”

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So even as a binge, the season is broken up enough, thematically, to not seem like a four-hour movie. But you can also feel how this could have been a movie, and maybe even was, at some point in its development.

Ultimately, the main plot, which lurks behind each episode, feels a bit clumsy and sort of overcooked when compared to the rest of the show, but by the time you reach the endgame, it’s the characters who matter and not the evildoers’ nefarious inter-dimensional scheme. It’s the fondness found between Astrid and Elton, the friendship built between Gus and Elton, and the unusually sweet bond formed between Richard and Helen, born out of loneliness, that drives the story when everything else gets a bit bogged down in hinky, hectic details.

As mentioned, Pegg is involved as a bit of background silliness along with other guest stars like Boardwalk Empire’s Kelly Macdonald, GLOW’s Kate Nash, Hot Fuzz’s Kevin Eldon, and more. Possessed dolls, sinister specters, ghostly machines, and brainwashed cults run rampant as Gus and his ragtag team all experience growth as human beings, finding a type of solace and camaraderie in the hunt that allows them to heal and smooth over some of their emotional scars.

Truth Seekers isn’t overtly scary, nor is it a gut-buster, but it finds a good balance between entertaining and icky and works well as a rollicking ride-along.

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