Truth Seekers





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

It takes patience to be scared.

That’s what Gus Roberts always thought, anyway. Gus, a broadband repair technician who moonlights as a paranormal investigator, used to bring wheelbarrows full of equipment on his ghoulish stakeouts—super-sensitive equipment he might use to pick up static that might be a whispered word, or a slight drop in temperature that might be a ghost. One of the eeriest moments he had as YouTube’s own “Truth Seeker” was watching a door “slam” … over the course of 9 hours or so.

But that was before he met Elton John (no relation), his new broadband repair partner who seems to attract paranormal activity like static attracts cling. Or before they both found a very scared woman named Astrid hiding in the back of their van. If Elton’s a paranormal refrigerator magnet, Astrid’s the Hadron Collider: Ghosts flock to her like terrifying Beatles’ groupies.

Nope, Gus doesn’t need a lot of patience to find windows to other, spookier realities these days. In fact, he might need a little help closing them.

Ghost Grunters

Gus chases ghosts, yes. But he’s especially interested in tracking down just one: That of his wife, who died 10 years ago. He’d love to renew acquaintances with her, if possible—or at least assure himself that while Emily might be dead, she’s not really gone.

But that’s not the only season-long story thread weaving through this half-hour comedy. Gus has always been interested in the weird, of course. Now it seems like weirdness is seeing a definite spike. A mysterious radio station that used to broadcast one guy repeating “one” over and over has suddenly started spouting off new numbers. Astrid’s being tracked by a whole passel of spirits. Strange books pop up. Strange crows fly about. Why, even Dave—Gus’s mild-mannered, wig-wearing boss—may be involved.

Yes, Gus may be out of his depth at long last. Where are Mulder and Scully when you need them?

Kindred Spirits

It’s fitting that Amazon Prime’s Truth Seekers should’ve premiered the day before Halloween.

Created by frequent British comedy collaborators Nick Frost and Simon Pegg (who play Gus and Dave, respectively), Truth Seekers is indeed shooting for some of the same creepy vibe that made The X-Files (and any number of other similar shows) a hit. But it also comes with a more contemporary twist: reality-show paranormal investigation. Anybody who’s been watching the History or Travel Channel knows that those networks don’t have much to do with history or travel anymore. Rather, they’re all about ghosts and the easily scared ghost hunters who chase them.

Naturally, Gus, Elton and Astrid all see ghosts. And so do we.

Those ghosts obviously come with some theological ramifications even if they were demurely dressed in sheets. Alas, many of them look pretty much like they did at the moment of death, and rarely does anyone look their best right then. Charred and bloody corpses walk about. Gore can be a frequent episodic visitor. In the first episode, we’re introduced to a dog that should’ve died 50 years ago. Instead, his owner strapped him up to a steampunk-like contraption, where the pooch’s eyeballs stare from a de-skinned skull and the thing breathes via metal accordion.

Still, the show does seem to try to stay well within the bounds of its TV-14 rating. It’s gory, but not Walking Dead gory. The language can be bad, but it’s not Black Mirror bad. Truth Seekers isn’t out to shock as much as it’s out to coax a smile or two. And for those appreciative of the Pegg/Frost comedic vibe (the two most famously starred in Shaun of the Dead) it works—and without the hard-R-rated content that can ooze into some of their movies. To twist a phrase from a more famous supernaturally tinged show, the Truth Seekers is out there—waaay out there. And while you can certainly seek out better, cleaner shows, truth is you could do worse.

Episode Reviews

Oct. 30, 2020: “The Haunting of Connelly’s Nook”

Despite his preference to work alone, broadband repairman Gus is saddled with a new partner—a bloke named Elton John. One of their first stops: A creepy old house where a nice (but creepy) old woman lives. She’s clearly lonely, and she begins talking about her dog, Peppers, whom she last saw in 1965. But after Gus and Elton hear some unexplained noises in the house, they discover the dog might not have run off after all.

Peppers was, apparently part of a macabre experiment conducted by the woman’s father long ago: Gus and Elton find the dog’s skeleton suspended in a complicated metal contraption, and the animal appears to somehow be alive. His eyes stare out from his skull, and he apparently breathes via an accordion-like apparatus. But once the repairmen find the animal, something happens: The dog’s spirit apparently transfers from the skeleton to the old woman. When Gus and Elton leave, she hears her long-dead father call “Peppers” from upstairs, and the woman gallops to him on all fours.

We see other “ghosts” as well, including a woman who died in a house fire. Another woman sees the fire consume the victim (in a dream), and the subsequent spirit sports bloody, charred skin as she stalks around. Other spirits wear rags or spooky plague-inspired garments. Ghostly balls bounce by themselves. Gus forces Elton to watch a YouTube video of himself hunting ghosts. We see a headline referring to “Britain’s Most Haunted Boy.”

Gus lives with his elderly father-in-law, who rides a chair up and down a staircase. Gus tells the older man to start wearing underwear when he rides it, because it’s “not really hygenic” otherwise. (Gus also accuses the man of stealing one of Gus’s “digestives.”) Elton later finds a package of men’s briefs in the glove compartment of their repair van. During the scary encounter with Peppers, Elton asks if those briefs are still in the glovebox—suggesting that he might need a change of underwear.

Gus snidely calls Elton “Muhammed” when they first meet. Elton used to work at a veterinarian’s office, and he mentions that the whole office always smelled like cat urine. The old woman offers Gus and Elton a cup of tea or “a bowl,” which is a likely reference to marijuana. Characters say the s-word once. We also hear “b–tard,” “d–n,” “h—” and “p–s” once each. God’s name is misused three times, and Jesus’ name is abused once.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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