TV Review: Broadchurch

August 12, 2013 12:36 pm

Let’s get a few things out of the way first. Yes, Broadchurch is good, but defining it solely on it being an answer to The Killing is forgetting that it was British TV that defined the crime genre. Sure, the Scandinavians are fashionable at the moment, but no one can deny the undying lure and popularity of the British countryside when combined with a murder mystery. People around the world swear by it and Broadchurch in a way confirms that fact.

broadchurchSince this is a whodunit, from the moment that Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker) notices her son didn’t take his lunchbox with him, we are aware of who the murder victim is. In a slightly sadist way, Chris Chibnall (screenplay) decides to put off revealing this fact to the unsuspecting parents for as long as possible, thus putting the viewer on pins and needles. As Mark Latimer (Andrew Buchan) walks down a seemingly never-ending main street smiling and greeting almost every person he passes, his wife’s tension slowly rises when she cannot find their son at the school pitch. All the while, our eyes are glued to the disaster about to strike.

At the same time, in the police station, Olivia Coleman’s DS Miller is in for a bitter pill. She is put on a rollercoaster of a learning curve when she has to deal with being passed over for promotion with the sensitive case looming. If she wants to find the murderer, she’ll have to take off her rose-tinted sunglasses. Her face has every emotion written on it so clearly that the easily bears the burden of showing the spreading ripples of this crime. David Tennant as her new boss DI Hardy is an odd-man-out in this tight-knit community. Feeling guilty about a past case, he is a man set on repentance even if (or maybe hoping) it kills him. Tennant portrays him with confidence and suppressed emotion, even though when he gets overexcited, shadows of Doctor Who do come out.

Although many have put emphasis on the heartfelt dramatic aspect of the show, there has been too much detective work to justify it. Sadly, in the aftermath of the disaster, the show brings nothing new to the mix. With every episode, there is yet another wannabe heartbreaking story uncovered about inhabitants of Broadchurch: a self-sacrificing detective who risks his health in order to bring a criminal to justice, a convicted paedophile who married his alleged victim, a suspicious loner turning out to be a mother who is unsuccessfully trying to make contact with a child she gave to foster care, a man bored with his quiet marriage… After throwing all these suspects at you, once the final revelation comes it not only disappoints, but it doesn’t convince. But the prolific and passionate cast manage to pump heart and life into the show despite the shortcomings in the plot.Broadchurch

All in all, Broadchurch is engaging, emotive and slightly eerie. It is undoubtedly a success, but neither in form nor originality. It is an offhand, although steady and confident reiteration of what Brits do best.

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