Broadchurch Season One (2013 UK)

broadchurch_ep01_4British crime dramas generally enjoy pacing and depth of characterization more engaging than the American ones, and there is often more emphasis on “mystery”. Whereas the Americans have more innovative plots that seldom have the holes that sometimes mar British crime stories. Unlike most murder dramas, this story isn’t about autopsies and gunfights. It’s about human nature. It’s about a very miserable but addictive British TV show…

Chris Chibnall has now gone to the top of his class as a writer. His screenplays are convincingly done. In no way has he broken the cardinal rule of show, don’t tell. Nor has he made the horrible mistake of creating any perfect character. All of them, from youngest to oldest, are wonderfully imperfect human beings, and with no character is this more obvious than our protagonist, DI Alec Hardy.  Masterfully played by David Tennant as the world-weary detective with secrets of his own and a shadowy past. He is so wonderfully written by Chibnall, and executed by Tennant, that we find ourselves won over by a character that on the surface is quite unlikable.

Tennant’s performance has, IMO, overshadowed his role in Doctor Who with this work. He has proved before that he’s far more than the Tenth Doctor. With his Hardy, he made me forget about all other roles. So, what about the meat of it all. The story goes thus…DS Ellie Miller (realistically performed by Olivia Colman– an emotional/earthy actress) is expecting to be promoted. But when eleven year old Danny Latimer is found murdered on the beach it is thought that somebody with more experience is needed. That person is DI Alec Hardy; he has experience with such a crime but as the prosecution failed in that case he may be a liability. Broadchurch isn’t the sort of town where such things happen and everybody is shaken. It is also the sort of town where everybody seems to know everybody else.

david-t-olivia-cBut as the case progresses it emerges that many people have secrets and as they are exposed lives will be changed forever. Plenty of suspects emerge; the Danny’s father lies about where he was that night, the leader of the Sea Cadets has a conviction for underage sex, a woman living near the beach has Danny’s skateboard. And DS Miller’s own son quickly deleted his correspondence with Danny as soon as he learnt his friend was dead, to name but a few. By the time the story approached its conclusion many of these things had been explained but not all. As I settled down to watch the final episode there were still plenty of people I thought might have done it. But were 8 episodes enough? More than! It could have been done in four.

The series is marred by one or two stylistic choices that invariably make the viewer burst out with WTF! (and not in a good way). First of all, we need to talk about the slow motion. Apparently, the director and the editors did not get the memo that slow motion should be used sparingly as it has long been the stuff of parody. There are only so many times David Tennant can collapse dramatically in slow motion before it gets boring. Also, there was really no need to have David Bradley recite the Lord’s Prayer in Episode 5. Mark Latimer’s slow motion beach tantrum in the last episode is pretty bad as well, plus the cheesy scene where everyone lights bonfires on the beach. These do stretch the viewer’s patience and credulity. Like most modern TV shows it does take misery and melodrama a bit too far. Broadchurch ain’t subtle – and neither is the creepy omnipresence of pedophilia that its steeped in.

david_tennant__olivia_colman_and_arthur_darvill_all_return_for_broadchurch_series_two                                                           (Can we stop staring now?)



  1. Fantastic review, thanks for sharing. I may give this show a miss as it sounds a bit long-winded, plus Olivia Colman staring at me from those photos is freaking me out a bit ha ha! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cheers Marina. This is a downer of a series overall so you won’t miss much!


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