Wednesday, August 28, 2013

(Spoilers) Broadchurch Series 1 Review

***SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers may be found in the post below about VARIOUS ITEMS. And I'm going to add in a bit of filler text here to limit how much of the main article gets shown in a preview. That should take care of most of it. Hopefully. And away we go. SPOILER WARNING. ***

British television is amazing. I don't know if it's because only the best of the best make it across the Atlantic, or if it's just different. Everyone has an "accent", I don't understand a ton of cultural references and slang, and the shows just look different.

Over the years, I've discovered quite a few memorable series that I still hold in high regard. There has been Life on Mars, Foyle's War, Doctor Who, a bunch of mini-series, and now there's Broadchurch. This show was only recently broadcast on a local channel and I started watching it because I heard good things. Whatever my expectations were, I did not leave disappointed after the first series finished airing.

Broadchurch, assuming it has more than one series, is a show about a murder in a small English coastal town. Like any archetypal small town, this is one where everyone knows everyone. It's a tight-knit community and crime is minimal. This is a town where there hasn't been a single murder in recent years -- it just doesn't happen.

Well, it happens. A young boy, around 10-ish, ends up dead and his body is found on a beach. So begins a series long story focused on the investigation of the killing. It could be described as an episode of CSI (or any other crime procedural) stretched out into a full 8-episode season.

The show follows the two lead detectives, one of who is played by David Tennant of Doctor Who fame, as the case evolves, and eventually leads to a conclusion. Throughout, a large amount of screen time is dedicated to the family of the deceased and how the death of a son impacts their lives. Other key characters include residents of the town such as family and friends of key characters. Everyone's a suspect?

Comparable Shows
I've already lumped Broadchurch in with CSI et al, but there is one show in particular that I think is pretty similar. That show would be The Killing on AMC, which just wrapped up its third season a few weeks back. The Killing is an American adaptation of a Danish show that follows a single case across an entire season -- the first case actually lasted two seasons in the American run. There's also a focus on two lead detectives, various side characters and plotlines, the effect of the murder on family, etc.

Good? Bad?
This should be pretty obvious considering that I already said I was not left disappointed after the entire first series. Overall, I find it to be an incredible show that is absolutely beautifully shot. The quality of writing and characters is excellent, and the performance of the entire cast is memorable.

David Tennant, one of two lead detectives, is a pleasure to watch, partly because I love his run on Doctor Who, and seeing him play such a dark character makes it ever more interesting -- not that the Doctor is all that cheery. Speaking of Doctor Who, Arthur Darvill is also on the cast in a supporting role.

The ending is satisfying. I don't know if it goes into "full twist" territory, but it is tragic and yet there is closure. Broadchurch is an excellent series and worth a shot. I heard that a second series is in the works. Here's hoping.

Broadchurch Digital Copy
Life on Mars: Series 1 [Blu-ray]

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