In the first series of Broadchurch from 2013, a small English town is shaken by the death of eleven year old Danny Lattimer (Oskar McNamara) and Alex Hardy (David Tennant), a detective inspector newly arrived in Broadchurch and lifelong local Detective Seargeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) are charged with investigating the case, and along the way they unearth many buried secrets of Broadchurch’s citizens.
While Tennant is the best known star in the series internationally, it’d be a mistake to assume that this a series about the investigators alone or primarily a David Tennant vehicle. The series is just not about the mystery, though there are plenty of clues and red herrings, but how this affects an entire community and then there are separate plots that work their way through Broadchurch: How the family handles this as well as learning of the husband’s infidelity, a discouraged minister, an ambitious young reporter, a self-proclaimed psychic telephone repairman, and then the suspects: some are hiding something, but in a few cases, we learn that people we’ve been suspecting have only been trying to hide a very painful past. It’s not a story with disposable characters.
As such, the middle four episodes feel like an ensemble piece and a very good one at that. What Broadchurch does is make characters who feel like real people. There are secrets but most of them aren’t off the wall things. There’s real human conflict at work.
My favorite character outside of the leads was Reverend Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill of Doctor Who) who was really revealed to be a strong character despite starting off looking much more like
In the hands of an amateur or a weak creative team, this type of story becomes a mess of characters running around. At the same time, the series succeeds on a directorial level. The way the story of Broadchurch is told is superb and nearly flawless with music, acting, and storytelling working together to tell a narrative. This is brilliant filmmaking and art on television which is just not something you see.
The mystery is good, although it’s probably the weakest part of the series. There are a lot of clues and red herring thrown in throughout the series. It’s hard to sort through, and the most important clues are ones that Alex Hardy knows but doesn’t share with the audience. Still, there are a few clues to the killer that the attentive viewer can pick up.
While this is a great series, it’s one that really requires parental discretion and is definitely not for the whole family. The series deals with serious issues that surround the death of a child and what could motivate it. While it was produced for broadcast television, it was produced for British broadcast television which has different standards than broadcasts in other countries. There’s very little sexual content or violence but some language that would not make it on American broadcast television. For the most part, , the use of these elements in the series were not gratuitous which is a tribute to the talent of the creative team to tell a good story.
Overall, this is a great example of what Television can be but so often isn’t.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
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