That was how Paul described the BBC series Detectorists, back in June in a comment on a post here about another series, River. Apparently I put it on my Netflix watch list at the time. A few nights ago my wife and I were looking for something less than an hour long to watch, and decided to try it. The episodes are half an hour long, and after one I sort of shrugged and said, "Well, that's not bad." But by the end of the third episode I loved it.
Paul's description is correct. This is a delightful show. I guess it's basically a situation comedy, but it's certainly superior to most of that genre. The story revolves around two men, Lance and Andy, who in the current cruel American vocabulary would have to be called losers. They're middle-aged, they have dull and low-paying jobs, and they spend their spare time pacing around the countryside with metal detectors ("This is a metal detector. We are metal detectorists."). They hope to find a Saxon hoard but mostly dig up "ring pulls" (pop tops to Americans), lost Matchbox cars, bits of wire, and the like. Lance pines for his ex-wife, who callously takes advantage of him in various ways. Andy lives with a schoolteacher in one of those aimless "relationships" so typical of modern life.
That doesn't sound like much, and it isn't, but the writer-director, Mackenzie Crook, who also plays Andy, makes a great deal of it. "Understated" is almost an understatement; you almost forget you're watching a comedy, but then suddenly find yourself laughing out loud. I tend not to like contemporary comedy, because so much of it is excessively crude, mean, and in the end for me just not very funny. Detectorists is at the other end of that spectrum. The humor is dry, subtle, and sharp. There's some sexual humor, but it's not the staple. And it's basically warm and generous. It would be easy to portray Lance and Andy, not to mention the other half-dozen or so members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club, with cold derision, but instead they're handled in such a way that you have a good deal of affection for them even as you're laughing at them. And it isn't all humor: at bottom they're taken seriously.
Here's the trailer, which gives you a pretty good sense of what the show is like. Andy is the long-haired one.