Critic’s Pick: TV Picks: ‘Detectorists,’ ‘Adult Swim Golf Classic,’ ‘Other Kingdom’
“Detectorists” (Acorn TV). The second season of Mackenzie Crook’s brilliant and beautiful pastoral comedy is now available on Acorn TV, almost your one-stop shopping center for British television, and it is just as well-wrought, funny, touching and lovely to behold as the first (which is now available via Netflix and Hulu). Crook, who was Gareth on the original British “The Office,” Ragetti in “Pirates of the Caribbean” and Orell on “Game of Thrones,” writes, directs and stars as Andy, a change-averse fellow who spends much of his free time, of which he has a lot, having no regular employment, with his friend Lance (Toby Jones), walking the fields and meadows with metal detectors in search of Saxon gold, but pulling up mostly pull tabs and musket balls. If you haven’t seen the first season, perhaps my favorite television of last year, I recommend you stop here and go read my 2015 interview with Crook instead; “Detectorists” isn’t particularly plot heavy, but the adjustments its characters make to life do constitute spoilers of a sort; in a series this close-up, you don’t need murder to make drama.
This year (that was your last warning), Andy and Becky (Rachael Stirling) have a baby; Andy has “qualified” (whatever that means exactly) as an archeologist, though he is less gainfully employed than ever. Lance is no longer at the beck and call of his manipulative ex-wife, but seems to be exploring new romantic options (as he is spied upon by his friends). And a new character (Daneil Donskoy as Peter) wanders into a meeting of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club, with a story about wanting to find his grandfather’s plane, shot down in World War II; he attracts the age-appropriate interest of Sophie (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), a young defector from a rival gang of detectorists. As a sort of lagniappe, an extra cherry on this sundae, we also meet Becky’s mother, played by Stirling’s own mother, Diana Rigg. The birds, the bees, the grass, the trees and the clouds in the sky play their own part, framing the human comedy and embracing it.
“The Adult Swim Golf Classic” (Adult Swim, Friday). Adam Scott, who was Amy Poehler’s beloved in “Parks and Recreation” and the co-creator of three Adult Swim specials all titled “The Greatest Event in Television History,” which recreated title sequences from 1980s television series, grabs Jon Daly (“Kroll Show”) and goes all the way back to 1966 to recreate a charity golf match. (The golfers share the actors’ names, though Scott is described as Australian – that there is in fact an Australian golfer named Adam Scott may be where this whole thing started – a nationality he conveys merely by speaking slowly.) Like “Greatest Event,” “Too Many Cooks” and much else that appears on Adult Swim, it derives its humor from increasing deadpan weirdness rather than any sort of “jokes”: “John hit his ball sideways into the sand trap causing him to throw his club in anger, but in only two strokes he was out of the sand, causing him to throw his club again, this time in celebration,” is about as much of a gag line as you’re going to get. The film quality and sound have been massaged into a fair imitation of the period. As far as my untrained eye can tell, each actor knows their way around the game, though they play it terribly here. The identity of the winner is being withheld until broadcast.
“The Other Kingdom” (Nickelodeon, Sundays). An unlikely cross of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and the Amish practice of Rumspringa finds fairy princess Astral (Esther Zynn) spending an exploratory, self-exploratory 90 days among mortal teens at Theseus High, possibly the only high school in North America named for a character from Greek mythology and/or Shakespeare. (Other direct “Dream” references, Astral’s parents, the fairy king and queen, are named Oberon and Titania and the fairyland Athenia; there is also a sort of chaperone character named Oswald, like Goneril’s servant in “King Lear,” who tries to dissuade the princess from leaving: “What is wrong with Athenia? We have everything here, we have rocks, we have trees, we have rocks like this, more rocks, this tree.”) Nothing groundbreaking here, but the fairyland has a nice colorful glow to it, like a blacklight poster room in an old head shop, the cast is professionally charming and cute and the dialogue crisp and smart. Press notes indicate some serial business ahead, putting extra pressure on Astral’s decision whether to remain mortal and forever abjure the company of fairies, or to get back to where she once belonged. From pillar of kid TV Thomas W. Lynch, who also created, co-created the much loved “The Secret world of Alex Mack,” “The Journey of Allen Strange” and “South of Nowhere.”
Follow Robert Lloyd on Twitter @LATimesTVLloyd
The complete guide to home viewing
Get Screen Gab for weekly recommendations, analysis, interviews and irreverent discussion of the TV and streaming movies everyone’s talking about.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.