It’s been a whole year since my first post on this blog. I’ve averaged just under a post a fortnight, and I’m rather proud to have seen a reference to at least one of my reviews on another website. As I enter the second year I don’t want to drop off the radar, even if it is six weeks since my last post. Thanks for sticking with me and for all the positive feedback!
Anyway. In my apparent quest to fulfil the stereotype of the average guy, one of my other favourite genres of TV and film is best summed up with the umbrella of “cop shows”. I love crime and detective shows, and so my DVD library is chock full of many old British crime dramas that I bought on a whim and still have to watch. Thing is, I don’t watch much current TV, and so instead I wait for people to ask me, “Did you see such and such on Wednesday?” This way, I catch myself up, and so it was with Broadchurch.
Broadchurch is a very recent crime drama produced for the British ITV network. It was shown in Australia on the ABC, and right from the moment I heard about it, I knew it would be a must see. This was confirmed by the rave reviews it’s been given, both in the media and by word-of-mouth. The story follows the reaction of a small Dorset town to the murder of 11 year old Danny Latimer and the subsequent investigation led by Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and his reluctant offsider, Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman). The result of this formula is an incredibly well acted and gripping story that will hold your attention from the word go.
The enduring image of the series is of a boy standing atop a high cliff, hands dripping with blood. This is repeated throughout numerous episodes – but is all as it seems? Broadchurch is whodunit mystery at its very best. Nobody in the town is what they seem, be it the friendly plumber Mark Latimer, father to Danny; or even Alec Hardy himself. The series’ ability to keep the viewer guessing is a major drawcard.
I haven’t been so drawn into the world of a TV drama since I watched the original House Of Cards trilogy earlier in the year. Indeed, after I watched the first two episodes of Broadchurch one Saturday night, I proceeded to spend the following afternoon and evening powering through the remaining six. Like many British TV shows, it was very much also a game of “what else was this person in?” which is a game just as engaging as guessing who Danny’s murderer is.
The series benefits hugely from its casting. David Tennant proves once again that he’s much more than just a Time Lord. His forlorn countenance throughout provides the right sort of sadness his character needs and it fits well with the tone. Olivia Colman as DI Ellie Miller is a marvel. Previously best known for her work in comedy, here she puts in a devastatingly good turn as a woman struggling to toe the line between professional and personal relationships, and truly alerts the audience to the difficulty of being a cop in a small town. For me, the absolute standouts are Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan as Beth and Mark Latimer. Whittaker especially puts in a performance filled with such raw emotion that it is almost as though the program is a documentary at times. Indeed, the only performance I didn’t enjoy was from the Australian pub owner, but that’s because she’s a negative stereotype.
You’ll notice that I’m saying next to nothing about the plot here. This is because Broadchurch has more twists than a bag of pretzels, and to mention nearly anything is to undo at least one of them. One thing I will say is that full credit for quality must go to the series’ creator and writer, Chris Chibnall. Chibnall previously wrote a couple of episodes for another of my favourite shows, Life On Mars, and here he proves his ability once again. I’m looking forward to seeing what he serves up for series two!
It’s refreshing to watch something so original as Broadchurch. It’s no ordinary cop show, and for that alone it’s worth watching. I cannot recommend it enough – it’s not enjoyable – it’s too intense to be enjoyable – but it is a thrilling ride.