Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, back together again! This time, they’re pairing up to bring us Truth Seekers, a spooky new television series that is part light-weight The X-Files, part parody of haunted reality shows like Ghost Hunters. For the most part, the characters are likable enough, and the storylines engaging, although it does suffer slightly from a short run time and conflicting ideas of what the show is actually intended to be. That said, it’s a pleasant and charming viewing experience, especially for fans of the genre.
Gus (Nick Frost) is the number one technician for Smyle, a wireless company in the midst of a 6G wifi rollout with aspirations to provide 100% coverage over the entirety of Britain. But in his spare time (and occasionally while on the job at a particularly spooky location), he’s the host of Truth Seekers, a struggling Youtube series that documents his experiences with the paranormal. Part of the reason behind his lagging subscriber numbers is that despite all of his best efforts, he’s yet to have an authentic supernatural encounter. That changes, though, when he gets paired up with Elton John (Samson Kayo), a squirrely coworker who is really just interested in the job part of his job, and not so much the extracurricular ghost-hunting that goes along with it. Together, they seem to act as a lightning rod for the peculiar, whether it’s Astrid (Emma D’Arcy), a young woman followed by a troupe of ghosts, or a World War II-era radio that carries a voice from beyond the grave.
This is all really charmingly executed. Frost and Kayo make an endearing, good-natured duo, and it’s a lot of fun to watch them go from job to job, with frequent interruptions by various paranormal shenanigans. It has some genuinely spooky moments and doesn’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because it has comedic elements, it should be overly gentle with the scares. Elton’s agoraphobic sister Helen (Susie Wokoma), Gus’s irascible dad Richard (Malcolm McDowell), and the perpetually sunny Smyle boss Dave (Simon Pegg) round out an ensemble that you really emotionally connect with by the end of the series.
The only problem with Truth Seekers is that it seems unsure of what direction it wants to go in: whether it’s a parody or more of a light-hearted ghost adventure. It seems to lean into more of the latter, but then it runs into a serious pacing issue. The 28-minute runtime seems perfectly suited for a ghost parody but feels slight for all the subplots and depth that Truth Seekers tries to contain. As a result, there is some really interesting material that is introduced and barely touched, and there’s just too much going on four only eight episodes. If this was solely intended to be a goofy, ghost-of-the-week comedy, its current runtime would be fine. But it has loftier aspirations than that and seems to be aiming for the sort of nuanced, arc-driven narrative that really can’t be effectively executed with what they have here. It hits a certain stride during the last few episodes, but it still feels as though the viewer is left wanting more. And that’s sometimes a good thing, right? It’s certainly not the worst criticism a show can garner. But it does suffer from a lack of space to bring in some of the interesting ideas they’ve only just started to develop.
Truth Seekers is a fun ride, and it’s always fun to get the opportunity to watch Nick Frost and Simon Pegg team-up. There’s a certain optimistic good-natured quality to the show that makes it immediately endearing: everyone involved just seems sort of pleasant, which is a balm in chaotic and stressful times like these. It’s a well-judged balance between scary and funny, something that similar shows have not always managed to pull off. And it would be great to see what the second season of Truth Seekers looks like, now that the set-up is out of the way and they can build a solid, tightly-scripted series that’s all driven by narrative. But as good as the bones of the show are, it doesn’t have enough breathing room for all of its ideas, and that’s the one thing that keeps it from being as effective as it should be.