Truth Seekers Amazon Original Series 1 (2020): ANN MASSEY looks at all the episodes and characters of this TV comedy paranormal horror. WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost join forces once again for a combination of geeky characters, horror, science fiction and dry humour to bring an eight part opening series to our screens just in time for Halloween!
Truth Seekers centres around Gus, a middle aged and out of touch field engineer by day and paranormal investigator, YouTuber and gadget boffin by night – until the two begin to entwine…
Gus works for Smyle, a 6g installation company, overseen by Dave, a cameo role for Simon Pegg – a role largely overshadowed by his ridiculous wig. Gus is joined on the road by a new apprentice, Elton, who rapidly gets drawn into the creepy and terrifying world of paranormal investigation. From haunted isolated houses, asylums and roadside manifestations to the occult and mediumship, the episodes pretty much tick every box on the paranormal investigator wishlist.
With a very tight main cast, there are a number of decent cameos and small roles in addition to Pegg, however the cameo of the series comes from Gus’s doddery and very creepy father Richard, played by Malcolm McDowell of ‘A Clockwork Orange.’
As a paranormal investigator myself, you can imagine how intrigued I was to see how it compares to the real thing. If you think the homemade gadgets and tinkering are exaggerated, think again! Less Shaun of the Dead and more World’s End meets Spaced with much less humour and a lot more jumps and scares!
Truth Seekers Characters
- Gus Roberts: A loner engineer seeking answers to the unexplained (Nick Frost)
- Richard: Gus’s elderly father (Malcolm McDowell)
- Elton John: Gus’s new apprentice, both for installation and paranormal investigation (Samson Kayo)
- Helen: Elton’s weird sister with a theatrical make-up tutorial YouTube channel (Susan Wokoma)
- Astrid: Mystery girl tormented by ghostly manifestations (Emma D’Arcy)
- Dave: Gus’s boss (Simon Pegg)
- Dave’s Wig: (Himself)
Truth Seekers Series 1 (2020) Episodes
Here is your guide to the first series of Truth Seekers Amazon Originals Series 1:
Episode 1 “The Haunting of Connolly’s Nook”
A woman (Astrid) enters her kitchen after hearing a smoke alarm, only to see her demonic sounding mother engulfed in flames. The woman then finds herself transported to an abandoned hospital, surrounded by ethereal beings including a burned figure. A spooky start indeed!
Enter Gus, tinkering with his paranormal equipment at home, as we gasp at the elderly man appearing from nowhere, convinced it is spectral. But it’s not. It’s just Gus’s father robbing the biscuits and whinging about his Stannah Stairlift.
Our first view of Simon Pegg is in his Smyle office as Dave, who requests Gus to break in a new apprentice who turns out to be called Elton John. They are called out to an old dear called Ms. Connolly, who has cut her cable wires in order to have some company. En route, Elton is introduced to the crazy world of Gus, with the radio station set to one frequency, reciting the numbers 1597 over and over.
Peculiar events begin at ‘Connolly’s Nook’ such as thuds and flashing lights, but regardless, the Smyle crew depart and Elton goes home to tell his odd sister Helen all about his new colleague’s YouTube channel, which she runs off to compare to her own theatrical make-up channel.
Dave and wig call Gus to revisit the creepy old house and this time much stranger things occur, including a live feed to a hidden room through the television set and animal possession! While driving home along the quintessential dark, isolated road with fog, a figure darts out and Gus breaks hard. On checking, there is no one to be seen so they opt to move on. A decidedly unnerved Elton tells Gus he is not able for spooky homes and will be quitting. As they drive off, one of the ghastly manifestations from the opening scenes watches them from the trees, as Astrid is seen in the back of the Smyle van pulling a sheet over her head…
Slow and disjointed, the opener really struggles to let the viewer understand the premise of the series. The scary moments are the kind to make you jump however, worthy of any horror show. The comedy is very minimal and way too subtle for my liking, making it seem like Truth Seekers is falling between the genre cracks.
Episode 2 “The Watcher on the Water”
It’s World War II and in a stately property, a lone soldier keeps watch for the Germans. Meanwhile in the basement, a scientist is explaining his new machine which can jam enemy frequencies during attack. The night is stormy and dark.
Private Atkins sees an enemy squadron and runs to the comms phone. “1597” – it is not a drill. As the scientist gets ready to activate his machine, lightning strikes and Atkins is fried alive.
Meanwhile, as Gus and Elton have breakfast, Astrid rifles through the van and discovers paranormal magazine, ‘The White Sheet’, not to be confused with the fascist publication of similar name. Dave tells Gus and Elton they are to head to the number one haunted 3-star hotel in Britain, the Portland Beacon, a former Ministry of Defence property.
They stop at Gus’s house for equipment and Elton has an awkward introduction to Gus’s dad. As they drive off, a terrified Astrid takes refuge in the Roberts home as spirits continue to torment her.
On arrival at the hotel they discover there is no signal anywhere, despite the property having the sturdiest of Smyle 6g routers. The themed horror hotel owners show the duo around and tell them to steer clear of room 2 which leads to Elton becoming trapped in the very same.
A mysterious old man appears and opens a secret passageway which leads to an underground bunker and we discover a real ‘ghost in the Machine.’ It is actually quite moving as the spirit of Private Atkins finally realises, he has done his duty.
As they leave the happy hotel owners and caretaker who we learn was the scientist, Elton concedes and agrees to help Gus with his video coding, despite his reluctance to dip his toe in paranormal waters. As they pull onto the drive, the van headlights shine on a terrified Astrid begging for help.
This episode was still extremely light on humour and I’m not convinced we will see much more. There was a much better flow however, and a lot more back story to make things more cohesive. We learned that Elton has his own secret past and his sister has anxiety issues and agoraphobia. There was also the revelation which I had suspected, that the woman in the photo in Gus’s house was his deceased wife.
A much more promising episode and not rambling off the day to day paranormal investigator path. A clever storyline reminiscent of Doctor Who for me and I’m quite looking forward to the next!
Episode 3 “The Girl with All the Ghosts”
Once again, we open with a journey back in time where ye olden day author and distributor haggle over a book. We discover the book is made from human skin and written in the author’s own blood, which is probably why the author a) thinks it is magical and b) there can only be one.
Before any kind of deal is made, strange men burst in and after murdering the purchaser, they tear out a single page and make off with the author. A woman then takes the remainder of the book.
Back to current times, Gus and Elton are quizzing Astrid on the apparitions that are following her. Gus puts Astrid into a semi trance in order to address her subconscious, however the forces surrounding her are so strong his equipment blows. They all sleep in the dining room and are awoken by Gus’s dad trying to make a video message for Helen, only to accidently flick on the bunny rabbit filter and upload to Gus’s YouTube channel. Perhaps I was wrong, maybe things are starting to pick up on the humour front…
The para-gang head into Smyle headquarters for a meeting with Dave and wig (who is having his own catalogue of strange occurrences in his office- Dave, not the wig) before taking a visit to physic Janey Feathers. As the lads enter her mobile home, Astrid is distracted by the manifestations in her peripheral vision. As Astrid enters, we see that on proud display is the very book from the start of the episode, with Gus hungrily eyeing it up and trying to persuade Janey to part with it.
Janey gets Astrid to lay down so she can begin to get a reading on what is haunting the girl. In moments lights are flashing, the entire home shakes like an earthquake and the book falls to the floor, the glass case protecting it shattering into pieces.
Ms. Feathers is not best pleased that Gus has brough malevolent spirits into her home and throws them all out, but not before Gus has a chance to grab the book from the floor.
Gus, Elton and Astrid go the abandoned hospital which has featured in Astrid’s visions. Gus begins to incant a spell from the book while Astrid lies on the bed alone in the ward. But not before he has ingested some of his own urine thanks to a misread.
Distracted, he pauses mid incantation and wanders off, leaving Astrid face to face with her nightmare. Elton completes the ritual and Astrid seems to be free of her demons. Gus is not forthcoming about his reasons for abandonment. Finish on the three in Gus’s dining room/office as he realises Richard’s bunny video has brought his YouTube channel much needed popularity.
I did feel this episode took a step back with cohesion, but this time around I did giggle and the scary bits were still scary. Perhaps Truth Seekers is beginning to climb out of the cracks and find its own niche in Comedy Horror?
Episode 4 “The Incident at CovColCosCon”
We have begun to notice a trend of soul and technology binding running through the series and this is no exception. Flashback to a scientist working with a younger Dr. Peter Toynbee, idol of Gus. They inject a chip of sorts into a rat in a maze. The gruesome twosome combine magic and science to explode the rat via the chip and transpose its soul into a radio and listen to his squeaks through the frequency. It should also be noted that it has now become evident that the soul, animal or human, manifests as green and blue squiggly electrified looking lines.
Fast forward to present day and Gus is listening to Dr. Peter Toynbee’s audiobook on transference. Today is all about Coventry Collectables and Cosplay Convention or the catchy acronym of CovColCosCon. Helen’s Dalek costume is all ready and Richard isn’t to be left behind so off they all go in the Smyle van. Helen and Richard discover they are YouTube buddies and their friendship begins. On arrival, Gus goes seeking the lecture by Dr. Peter Toynbee and Helen goes into meltdown and stays behind in the van.
Richard takes Gus’s ticket under force as he does not wish to be bored out of his wits, while Gus goes to purchase another. Richard is shooed inside and the doors are closed. An infuriated Gus tries to get around a bouncer with no luck. Meanwhile we discover Astrid seems to be a sci-fi nerd and her and Elton are invited into an immersive horror experience. They are told it is hidden within and the safe word is ‘Fire.’
We learn that Helen had a childhood trauma which has led to her issues. A hacked off Gus trudges back to the van to discover Helen still inside and he delivers a pep talk.
Elton and Astrid spot some scarlet robed figures and follow them, believing it to be the beginning of the immersive horror experience. Meantime, Richard is bored silly, until the decidedly L. Ron Hubbard like Dr. Toynbee begins his slide show and a clear attempt at subliminal messaging. The captive and entranced audience are blissfully unaware that they are having chips injected into their eyeball, including Richard! And they are back in the room.
Our duo meanwhile, have found the robed group chanting in a cupboard with a page of the book and have knives drawn on them, thinking it is part of the immersive experience, but they have to leave as Helen says she is ready to come in. Astrid yells Fire! Causing panic and the accidental severing of the carotid artery of a robed victim. Happy they have seemingly won the game with special blood effects, so Elton and Astrid return to the auditorium just in time to see Dalek Helen crowned Cosplay champion.
Everyone returns to the van, surprised to see Helen still there. The Dalek is unmasked and Gus is inside. We finish on Richard looking into the mirror as he goes Terminator activation with a glowing red eye…
This episode was both fun and funny, a light hearted breather from the proper scares of earlier episodes. We are now realising that everything is linked and that the past, present and future are rapidly coming together. On to the next!
Episode 5 “The Ghost of the Beast of Bodmin”
The evil villain Dr. Toynbee arrives at a facility under emergency evacuation and enters a restricted area. Using the severed eyeball, tongue and pair of hands he just happens to be carrying in plastic sandwich bags, he gains access and retrieves more pages of the mysterious magic book.
We’ve all heard of the Beast of Bodmin right? RIGHT? No, apparently Astrid and Elton have not. A video message is uploaded to Gus’s channel allegedly proving the Beast, a large feral cat is in action, so they head off to investigate in the Smyle van for the weekend. We discover the list of Elton’s knowledge goes on and on thanks to the ridiculous amount of jobs he claims to have had, including tree surgeon help and line cook at motorway services as they reminisce about Wimpy Benders, Happy Eaters and Little Chef en route.
Dave calls the gang and Elton lets slip they are using the Smyle van for personal use. Amiable Dave gives the thumbs up before receiving a photo of himself sitting at his desk by e-mail, to go with the strange calls he has been getting.
The ‘subject’ who had been sitting beside Richard in the theatre in the previous episode is in a car with Dr. Toynbee and his assistant as they pull into a derelict commercial location. Terry as he is called, is locked into the car while Dr. Toynbee detonates the chip and splats poor Terry. The assistant says the range is increasing.
Back at the house, Richard appears wearing sunglasses and both he and Helen begin to share their lives, albeit it in tiny steps. Helen sees Richard’s eye looks swollen and red and photographs to reference later for Zombie make-up.
Gus, Astrid and Elton arrive at the abandoned Happy Eater Beast location and soon discover they have been lured with a fake video. JoJo74 is firmly of the 6g tin foil hat brigade and warns them that Smyle is at the heart of the whole conspiracy to brainwash everyone with their network. Elton enquires if that includes the basic package.
They leave and report on YouTube that the Beast of Bodmin case is unresolved, leaving JoJo74 as a secret hidden away in an old Happy Eater in Cornwall. In the meantime, Richard is beginning to have fragmented memories of his time in the company of Dr. Toynbee…
A strange episode, disjointed again and low on both humour and scares and I would even go so far as to call it filler. While some of the puzzle pieces are beginning to fit together, more pieces have been added and I’m not sure yet that they are all going to fit and we will have all four corners.
Episode 6 “The Revenge of the Chichester Widow”
We are cast back to the late 19th century and the Chichester Institute for the Criminally Insane. Cue serial killer Mary Colford, murderer of many men, who has been accused of witchcraft. She discloses deviant secrets of her accuser and he condemns her to death by medieval means without trial there and then. At the point of death, she casts a spell and her soul transfers to a Poppet (doll).
Dave informs Gus and Elton that the Portland Beacon Hotel is very happy and now has a website thanks to their work. He sends the Smyle crew with Astrid in toe, to check out the Institute for a feasibility study as the location is being converted into flats. Before they leave, Elton asks questions about the need for 100% coverage, bringing attention to JoJo74 and her claims, but it is seemingly dismissed.
Cut to a concerned Peter Toynbee as he has received an email from the Portland Beacon Hotel. It is clear he knows the owners and Wendy at least, is a part of his yet to be revealed plan. He asks how it is that they have email capability and she says it is all down to Smyle.
The gang arrive at their potentially haunted location and discover the owner is a descendant of the original owners, possibly even the man who executed Mary Colford. Astrid and Gus head inside with their new Go-Pro style cameras and begin to investigate.
Meanwhile Elton is command centre in the van and back at home Helen and Richard are preparing the YouTube channel for a live-feed. Plot twist! We discover the Richard is actually Gus’s father in-law and they discuss Emily a bit and say it was a car accident that killed her. They move on and start the live-feed.
Astrid and Gus split up and Astrid discovers a desk with a notebook belonging to a Dr. Kettering, the same name as the grumpy current day owner. It depicts horrific and bloody deaths similar to Mary and archaic tools.
Gus meanwhile, has gone off the grid as he enters an undocumented part of the institute. The voice of Mary comes through begging for release and vengeance and Gus’s light shines on the Poppet. She channels Emily who says Gus was lied to about her and that Elton and Astrid are keeping secrets and not who they seem.
The others get to Gus who is screaming the doll is possessed. As they leave, Kettering picks up the doll and sets it alight. There is another soul transference and the possessed man kills himself in the same fashion as the condemned witch – her revenge is complete.
Once home, Gus recalls an article called ‘Britain’s Most Haunted Boy” that he saw in The White Sheet and examines it more closely. He then grabs the photo of Emily from the shelf that has caught the interest of everyone over the previous episodes. He magnifies the image and sees the same little boy at the window behind Emily. That boy appears to be a young ‘Elton’…
When I saw that we were dealing with a witch and possession, I had hoped for more scares but sadly the episode was lacking in comedy and horror. Not what you want for a comedy horror.
Episode 7 “The Hinckley Boy”
So, Elton John isn’t REALLY called Elton John. He’s actually called Lionel Richie. In 1997 he was visited by a burning ghost in the basement of the home he shared with his mum, dad and sister. He told his mum, mum told the neighbours and then he was a celebrity undergoing scientific testing, fame and ridicule. His sister was neglected in the mayhem (hence Christina’s AKA Helen’s anxiety and social disorders). They all ran away and changed identity.
To the present day we go! It is almost solar eclipse time and Dr. Peter Toynbee is in the abandoned factory with a group of men in suits. He activates a control and they get to work creating a portal similar to the Stargate. We learn Peter is looking to do an interdimensional transference so he can ascend. The only thing standing between him and immortality is the confounded Smyle 100% coverage situation which will block his own signal. Peter realises there is a method from an earlier episode which can help him…
Dave and wig are still miffed at the spying and yell at the security camera in his office. Assistant Bjorn begins to try and triangulate the pings off the invisible tormentors to find out who is behind the images and phone calls.
Richard is activated and goes Close Encounters, building a scale model of the factory with kitchen roll before disappearing, leaving a concerned Helen to travel in full sci-fi makeup by Uber to the home.
On arrival in Hinckley, Elton/Lionel’s secret is fully revealed and they go back to the house and helpful occupants, including a teen daughter who follows the Truth Seekers on YouTube, elated to be their 2000th subscriber.
In the basement, Elton/Lionel says he feels nothing, the house is ‘nice.’ Gus explains it is all connected to Elton and not the property, how in all his years of investigating, Gus found nothing until he met his protégé.
Gus leaves to get more equipment and things begin to kick off. The burning woman (Astrid’s mum) returns and the house shakes. Lights are flashing and the terrified father yells while teen groupie videos the masked ghoul at her window.
We KNEW something wasn’t right about Astrid right?! Turns out she sort of died in 1997 and Elton is a conduit. Astrid’s mum has been trying ever since to push Astrid back to the mortal realm using Elton, as it wasn’t Astrid’s time.
Meanwhile, Gus is confronted by the ghost of his dead wife. She tells him that she was seeking paradise to share with Gus and had basically been a disciple of Toynbee and that he killed her to further his end game.
At that moment, Elton uses his energy to close the portal and bring Astrid fully into the world of the living, although she is still a ghost -probably. Reunited with Gus, the gang speak with Helen who voices her concerns over Richard and shows them the model. Gus knows exactly where it is and they drive off.
Now we find ourselves at the Portland Beacon Hotel and the clocktower. The assistant whose name Dr. Toynbee cannot quite remember, is not joining him in transcension, instead being a sacrifice so that he can reactivate the machine from World War II that jams signals, using the soul of his assistant trapped inside. Lightning strikes and assistant Elara becomes the ghost in the machine…
Episode 8 “The Shadow of the Moon”
Remember that bit in ‘World’s End’ where a part of you went “this is just alien, mind control daftness, what were Pegg and Frost thinking?” Well I was left with that same sinking feeling at the end of the last episode, so let’s see if I was right!
Flashback (of course!). Emily is in the abandoned factory in Portland (yes, it turns out Portland is the centre of mystical convergence blah blah…) and she is on a chair sitting over a Sigil. Peter Toynbee is standing over and she believes she will transcend. His plan is simpler however and as the 2010 eclipse takes place, he slits her throat. This enables him to gauge how many souls he will need for his own interdimensional transference in ten years’ time.
Present day and Gus suddenly knows where to go and what will happen, right down to the nano-bots in the eyes of the hypnotised disciples, including Richard. Turns out JoJo74 has been feeding him information.
Dave in the meantime, has discovered the source of the monitoring and ends up in an empty field with a single blue rose on a table waiting for him. It turns out Dave actually knew all along something was happening and roles out his ultimate weapon – 8g.
Jojo74 is seen not as the tin foil lady of earlier, but a power suited official looking woman, not dissimilar to Miss Foster or Kovarian from Doctor Who. The first of many similarities to the stalwart sci-fi series that I have seen throughout Truth Seekers. She is trying to con Gus into not stopping Toynbee’s finale.
As Dr. Toynbee prepares for the final part of the ritual, Dave, Gus and the gang swing into action. First job is for Helen and Gus to sneak in by faking the red eye and getting through the security check. (Cybermen, Billy Piper, David Tennant anyone?)
Meanwhile Astrid and Elton head for the Portland Beacon Hotel to try and stop the signal jam. Peter’s assistant is holding steadfast however and doesn’t believe that she has been duped by her beloved Doctor. Astrid tells Elton to open the portal and let her into the machine to finish the job.
So we are now here with Truth Seekers:
The eclipse is full on.
Gus is having a Saturday afternoon wrestling style charade of a fight with Dr. Toynbee and finishing on the deck as Peter steps forward victorious and slits his own throat ready for transcendence.
Astrid is kicking spectral ass inside the machine as Elton is telling the creepy masked bird manifestation he isn’t scared anymore. Richard and Helen are both nano-bot Toynbee bitches waiting to do his final bidding. Dave has 8g up and running and Astrid wins her battle, bringing the network to 100%.
Dr. Peter Toynbee dies. Nano-bot chips are deactivated and the gang head back to the van, minus Astrid who never made it back across the plane. Gus reminds Elton that they are Truth Seekers and she is still out there.
In a post movie Marvel spoiler, we learn that JoJo74 and Dave are actually Super-beings playing games with the universe. They head for a bite to eat as Astrid appears in the painting behind Dave’s desk.
So, we don’t know any more about the book. And there was nothing funny or scary in this episode. What a limp, rushed ending for something that started so slowly and was beginning to crescendo with promising glimpses of the horror and comedy we have come to expect from the Cornetto kings. For me it crashed and burned with a finish more annoying than the irritating tune that reared its ugly head in many manifestations throughout the entire series.
Yes, it has been left open, but if it Pegg, Frost and co-creators don’t put a bit more effort in, I suggest Elton closes the portal to season 2.
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