Jan 6, 2017

[TV] Broadchurch: Series 1

Netflix has been quite helpful in helping us get through more shows that we've been meaning to watch for sometime. You can't expect the latest seasons of your favorite shows to be there, but for older stuff that have always been on the backburner in our show queue but are happily in the Netflix database.

One such show is Broadchurch, that we wanted to watch as we're fans of David Tennant's run on Doctor Who but then this show or that show always took priority over this one. I regret that, since this is a pretty darn good show.

But of course a police procedural tends to move at a very different pace as compared to most other dramas. A British police procedural tends to have an even more gradual pace to things since shows from that part of the world as they don't see the need for the usual flash and flair of their US counterparts.

I'm not complaining. This means you get a show that focuses a lot more on the character relationships instead of silly plot twists and shaky camera work.

Synopsis: Broadchurch is a British crime drama created by Chris Chibnall and aired on ITV. This first series of 8 episodes garnered a number of different nominations and awards.

At the center of the show is the death of 11 year old Danny Latimer (Oskar McNamara). His body is found on the beach at the base of a cliff so it appears he may have jumped. Of course this was not the case given there's not enough blood at the scene and the fact that his ultimate cause of death is something else entirely.

Around the same time we have Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) looking forward to getting promoted to Detective Inspector. But instead Alec Hardy (David Tennant) who arrives at Broadchurch as he has been given the Detective Inspector job. And before Ellie can fuss over it more, Danny's body is discovered and the investigation into the boy's death. And given how Broadchurch is the sort of close community where everyone knows everyone, this murder may rip the town apart.

What I Loved: The show is amazingly character-focused when typically you expect a police drama to focus a lot more on facts related to the case and potential clues to the mystery as they are discovered. The crime is tragic and defines most of the story but at times it's more part of the setting. Instead we focus on how this crime has affected everyone in the town, especially as the police investigation inevitably starts digging up little secrets here and there.

I already love David Tennant and he's all brooding Doctor in this show. We get the bonus of Arthur Darvill playing Reverend Paul Coates for more Whovian fun. But one really needs to take note of Olivia Colman, who had quite the strong performance throughout the series. She's not a stereotypical tough female character - in fact she's quite sensitive and very much a small town cop in this case. But there's a strength to her that carries her through and helps her deal with Andy being brought in over her and the frustrating lack of progress at times for the case.

But man, the casting for this show is pretty great all around.

What Could Have Been Better: The show's pacing can be a bit frustrating at times as everyone naturally wants to figure out the case and yet the investigation keeps revealing a million other things instead. In this regard things are pretty realistic when you think about actual cases but it doesn't make for great television.

I'm not sure they needed to saddle the character of Alec with so many problems including a dark past and a health condition he's hiding from everyone else. It felt like a bit too much noise to add onto everything else as a potential plot complication.

TL;DR: Broadchurch is a compelling drama and is on the whole a great character-driven narrative. The ending is a bit of a surprise and one that I wish had been foreshadowed more, but at the same time the lack of clues kind of helps the sense of mystery as well. Thus the first series gets 4.5 secrets brought into the light of day out of a possible 5.

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