Mushrooms put magic into Spanish TV

TVC skein tops its timeslot, scoring third season highs of 30.7%

BARCELONA — Talk about magic mushrooms.

Catalonia, Spain’s richest region, is spacing out on docuseries “Cacadors de bolets” (Mushroom Hunters) that shows people, well, hunting for mushrooms.

Aired by pubcaster TVC in primetime on Mondays, the 20-minute skein tops its timeslot, scoring third season highs of 30.7% shares by mid-October.

Why the extraordinary appeal?

Mushrooms, for Catalans, are a Golden Fleece. Every weekend, traffic clogs Pyrenees valleys harboring top crops as hunters search for their prey.

In one October episode, “Blood, Sweat and Mushrooms,” off-roaders slither down dirt tracks as “Mission: Impossible’s” theme kicks in. Out jumps a family with two children straining at the leash. They penetrate the shadowy woods, struggling manfully with the shrubbery.

Hand-held camerawork adds comic edge. “Collons, pare!” (Big balls, Dad!) suddenly wails the son pointing at a Saffron Milk Cup, a pale-orange, plate-domed’shroom.

Congregated, the hunters grill mushrooms with garlic and parsley.

Cut to a coda: three old codgers swap shaggy mushroom tales.

“Mushroom’s” auds push one million, clearly hooking viewers who couldn’t tell a Trumpet of Death (black, trumpet-shaped) from a ground-to-air rocket launcher.

“France, Italy, Spain and Japan love mushrooms. Argentina, the U.K. don’t,” explains show director Jordi Viader.

Maybe “Mushroom Hunters” is proof that shows with a singular vision — and you don’t get much more singular than a show that headlines the orange-capped Amanita Caesarea mushroom — can break out from its niche.

At the very least, it has brought TVC ratings to a pleasant simmer.

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