Shock, rather than relief, takes hold of Broadchurch as Inspector Alec Hardy finally discovers who murdered Danny Latimer.

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Tracey Childs ...
CS Elaine Jenkinson
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Oskar McNamara ...
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Storyline

Hardy finds Tom's computer, which reveals that he fell out with Danny after the latter found a new friend. At the same time, following an email Hardy traces Danny's phone to the person Ellie's sister Lucy saw dispose of a bundle on the night of the killing. This is the new friend, who makes a confession tying in with what Susan thought she saw and with Steve's psychic vision, a person whose repressed love for Danny led to a terrible conclusion after Danny threatened to expose the relationship. Shock, rather than relief, takes hold of Broadchurch as a result before the town comes together to light beacons in Danny's memory. Written by don @ minifie-1

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child strangling | See All (1) »

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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25 September 2013 (USA)  »

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Main Theme
(uncredited)
Written by Olafur Arnalds
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Season 1: Engagingly bleak even if it is too straightforward with the red-herrings and characters, and not as rich as it thinks it is
18 February 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

With the recent popularity of various Scandinavian crime dramas it was generally BBC4 which benefited since most if not all of those shows were picked up and screened there. Understandably ITV was never going to screen a drama with subtitles in prime time (indeed I wonder if the channel has ever shown a subtitled show at any time?) but it is clear that they wanted to show Forbrydelsen because they appear to have made an effort to make a show that is thematically and tonally very like it. The plot here sees a body of a young boy found on the beach in the small English town of Broadchurch. Newly installed (and recently disgraced) DI Hardy leads the investigation alongside local DS Miller, who feels the job he got should have been hers. As the investigation begins, the crime has an emotional and financial impact on the small community.

Broadchurch got a lot of praise when it screened in the UK and indeed was picked up by the BBC for showing in America. When I watched it I tried to put this out of my mind and focus on the show on its own terms. It is not a cheerful watch and generally it is quite bleak whether it is on the cold unforgiving cliff faces or the small town mindset or in the pained faces of all the characters, but this tone works just about because the crime investigation works. The 8-episode season is pretty well paced so we get leads and clues that offer interest but also inform the characters; the back-stories and involvement of other factors (most obviously the media) adds detail to the telling as well. It does generally work well and it heads towards a reasonably good conclusion.

That said it is not as brilliant as you have heard. The script may have a lot of characters and things going on, but it is not as rich or as layered as it clearly wants to be. The "pained" aspect does feel a little painted on at times and the show goes out of its way to make that point – with characters frequently looking like they have been beaten up by life even at the start of the season. The structure of the crime investigation is a bit too linear as well, it doesn't really keep a lot of plates spinning so much as break one then move to the next. So instead of having lots of suspects and continually shifting our perspective around them until the end, it raises them and then dismisses them after they have served their narrative purpose. It still engages but it robs the show of depth and also means that, for example, when the finger points at someone with 3 episodes left to go, you assume that it is too early for them to have done it since the pattern is "suspect, chase, uncover back-story, move to next person/situation". This structure does rather reduce the tension in the way it is delivered and it isn't a great flow although the comparatively short season does limit the negative impact of this.

The performances are generally good although the material doesn't always make the most of them. Tennant is a good character but perhaps a bit too much on the surface with his pain. Coleman is better as she has more of a person to deliver and I liked how she changed through the season as her character's perception of the community changed. Whittaker is very good while supporting roles were generally strong from Darvill, Quirke, Sims, Buchan, Bradley and others, although as I say the material is sometimes a limiting factor in how much they can do since they are all pretty much used as plot devices at one time or another.

Broadchurch is not as good as you have heard, but it is still engaging in its bleakness and Scandinavian style. The plot is good but perhaps too structured in the way it steps forward rather than having everything milling around it and keeping everything spinning till the end. It is still good and worth a look if you are a fan of Forbrydelsen and the like, but it is not as rich a drama as the British media would have you believe.


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