AUGUST IS ACORN MEDIA/RLJ ENTERTAINMENT MONTH
DETECTORISTS and DELICIOUS, two of the quirkiest comedies ever to grace the international airways, chose 2017 and 2019, respectively, to wind down after a riotous and acclaimed run in the UK (three series for each). I will truly miss both these whimsical, surreal forays into the bizarre traits of unusual humans (and, in DELICIOUS‘ case, the talking dead); thankfully, I’ll have many of the episodes available at my beck-and-call, due to their availability here on DVD from the eclectic folks at Acorn Media/RJL Entertainment.
I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record when discussing final seasons (or, in the matter of DELICIOUS, the middle installment) of beloved shows; I guess that also applies to my liberally dropping “Ealing” comparisons. Well, I do that for one good reason. These Acorn DVDs and Blu-Rays deserve it. I AM sorry that a number of wonderful series are ending; and, being a big fan of the classic Ealing comedies, my praise for these Brit shows isn’t as liberal as, shall we say, justified.
Case in point: DETECTORISTS, SERIES 3. This show has an abundance of eccentrics, charm, serenity, beauty (those locations and the music) and frequent laugh-out-loud humor.
The final six episodes (on two DVDs) from Acorn Media/RLJ Entertainment keep the lovely flow moving along as we track (likely for the last time) the adventures and misadventures of the inhabitants of Danebury, the small, fictional suburb in Northern Essex (actually Wantisden Farms in Suffolk), mostly personified by Andy Stone and Lance Slater, two members of a detectorist club. For those new to this show, detectorists are hunters of ancient historical artifacts buried beneath the sod of rural England.
In SERIES 3, Andy (Mackenzie Crook) and his loving, but snarky wife Becky (Racheal Stirling) have returned home from abroad – a super dream job not being what it promised. With nowhere to live, they move in with Beck’s even-more snarky mater Veronica (played by Stirling’s real-life mum, Diana Rigg, who, not surprisingly, is terrific). Meanwhile, Lance is having his own share of domestic turmoil – living with two women: his new girlfriend Toni and his grown daughter Kate; it redefines oil and water, plus a dash of nitro.
But there’s trouble afoot throughout the land. A solar farm company has purchased the land the detectorists vigorously explore. While solar seems, on the surface, a modern solution to pollution, the powers-that-be behind this particular organization aren’t necessarily types you would deem synonymous with the word “ecology.” This becomes so crucial, that the long-festering animosity between the vicinity’s two detectorist factions (yes, there are two) is temporarily salved when they team up. Yep, Philip and Paul (aka Simon and Garfunkel) appear to now be working with Andy and Lance; can this actually be, or is there more chicanery on the horizon? Furthermore, Andy’s acquiring a new gig as a local excavator (and, therefore, giving him reign/access to his archeological jones while simultaneously opening up a desperate house-hunting/mother-in-law-less search) likewise is not all it’s cracked up to be.
It’s all an addictive, ephemeral comedic bon-bon that fully lives up to the previous two series. Enough kudos cannot be accorded to writer/director/star Crook, Toby Jones (as Lance), and Stirling; ditto, the rest of the sensational cast for mining their rich characterizations: Lucy Benjamin, Adam Riches, Gerard Horan, Sophie Thompson, Orion Ben, Pierce Quigley, Divian Ladwa, Laura Checkley, Aimee-Ffion Edwards and David Sterne. Nods must also be given the gorgeous camerawork of Jamie Cairney (lushly rendered in the Acorn widescreen DVD), and the lilting folksy music of Johnny Flynn (in stereo-surround). With nearly an hour of extras, DETECTORISTS, SERIES 3, is a satisfying conclusion to a brilliant, original comedy, although bittersweet for me, as I’m sorry to see it end.
In 2016, the fantasy-comedy-drama DELICIOUS sent me into a euphoric spin that I still haven’t fully recovered from. So, natch, I was pumped for the second season, and wasn’t disappointed. For those out of the loop, who have yet to hear of this show, it philosophically and physically lays out the arguably two greatest pleasures afforded to the human condition: sex and food. Both are, as the title states, delicious. And both are on view in the verdant Cornwall resort where the narrative plays out. Gourmet chef and successful hotelier Leo Vincent lives with his stunning second wife, Sam, their grown son, Michael, and gran Mimi while overseeing the sumptuous resort/restaurant that his first wife, Gina, and their daughter, Teresa, reside in and operate (she’s the real foodie maestro). All this frenemy antagonism and inwardly-outwardly attraction takes a jolt when Leo drops dead of a heart attack. Nevertheless this doesn’t stop him from commenting on ongoing events, which include mentoring fragile but spectacularly witty Teresa. Of course, financially, this results in some difficulties – possibly smoothed over when the two wives join an uneasy alliance to keep the business afloat. Not so easily explained is the sexual liaison between Teresa and her half-brother Michael.
In SERIES 2, Sam and Gina face new hazards in addition to their own confrontational relationship, including the still off-and-on romance of their children with each other, Adam, a new handsome brilliantly “endowed” chef, James, a former guest from a long time ago, and, perhaps most alarmingly, the arrival of the latter’s charming con-artist Italian papa, Joe. But, again, key to all the twists and turns in the scenario is the ever-present intertwining of lust and rapture encompassing the borderline libertine and the epicurean. This time even outspoken gran gets into the act, enjoying some “afternoon delight” with the devious, rapacious Joe. But there are secrets revealed along with the new characters, some quite shocking – and for this series, that’s quite a feat.
As usual, the performances are extraordinary, with top honors going to Dawn French (Gina), Emilia Fox (Sam) and Iain Glen (as dead Leo). Special note must be accorded to Sheila Hancock as the passion-released octogenarian Mimi, and to Tanya Reynolds as Teresa, a truly a gifted, remarkable actress. On a personal level, the gobsmack factor is in the casting of Franco Nero as Joe. FRANCO FRIGGIN’ NERO! The guy from Django, The Mercenary, Companeros, and Hitch-Hike. Believably playing Dawn French’s parent. Damn, I’m old!
The behind-the-scene/tech credits rival the on-camera thesps. The beautiful production, lavishly filmed at Pentillie Castle in Cornwall (by Rasmus Arrildt and Toby Moore) is one of the most sumptuous looking television shows you’re apt to ever feast your eyes on. The direction (Claire Kilner, John Hardwick) is inventive, the writing (by creator Dan Sefton, with assist from Lee Coan and Ursula Rani Sarma) sardonically offbeat as ever and the music (Rob Lane) quite diverting. Extras abound, and we hope to be able to sample the already-produced Series 3 in the future.
An addictive albeit spicy recipe, possibly not for everyone’s taste? Sure. Wonderful and satisfying –DEFINETLY.
DETECTORISTS, SERIES 3. Color. Widescreen [1.78:1; 16 x 9 anamorphic]; 2.0 stereo-surround. Acorn Media/RJL Entertainment/DRG/BBC/Channel X/Lola Entertainment. CAT # AMP-2630. SRP: $39.95.
DELICIOUS, SERIES 2. Color. Widescreen [1.78:1; 16 x 9 anamorphic]; 2.0 stereo-surround. Acorn Media/RJL Entertainment/EndemolShine Group/Sky 1/Bandit Television. CAT # AMP-2597. SRP: $34.95.