Series review: Broadchurch

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Series review: Broadchurch

[cap­tion id=“attachment_100115” align=“alignright” width=“300”] Char­ac­ters in Broadchurch[/caption]

By John Ruberry

A few days ago I fin­ished watch­ing sea­son three of Broad­church, a British mys­tery series which is broad­cast in the United King­dom on ITV – and here on BBC Amer­ica – star­ring David Ten­nant as Detec­tive Inspec­tor Alec Hardy and Olivia Col­man as Detec­tive Inspec­tor Ellie Miller.

Ten­nant of course is best known as the Tenth Doc­tor – and the sec­ond one of after its revival – in Doc­tor Who. Except for the first half of the “Tooth and Claw” episode, Ten­nant uses an Eng­lish accent as the Doc­tor, here his nat­ural Scot­tish accent is uti­lized for his Hardy char­ac­ter. One of the sup­port­ing char­ac­ters in Broad­church is Jodie Whit­taker, who will accede to the Doctor’s role in the next Christ­mas episode of Doc­tor Who and become the first female Doc­tor, to the hor­ror of some long­time fans, includ­ing the founder of the blog you are read­ing now.

The cre­ator – and sole screen­play writer, save for one episode that he had a co-​writer for – of Broad­church is Chris Chib­nall, who has been exec­u­tive pro­ducer of Doc­tor Who since last year and who will be showrun­ner for the fem­i­nized edi­tion next sea­son. Chib­nall was a co-​producer and screen­writer for Torch­wood, the sex­u­al­ized “grown-​up” spin­off of Doc­tor Who.

The fic­tional town of Broad­church is where this par­tic­u­lar show is set, it sits on the Juras­sic Coast of Dorset in south­west­ern Eng­land. Broad­church is a tightly knit – per­haps too much so – small town that, in sea­son one, is wracked by the mur­der of 11-​year-​old Danny Latimer (Oskar McNa­mara). Whit­taker por­trays his mother, Beth, and Andrew Buchan plays his father, Mark. The sus­pects are numer­ous and there are plenty of plot twists to keep you on the edge of your couch for all eight episodes. Sea­son two, which also con­sists of eight episodes, splits time between being a court­room drama and the re-​opening of the inves­ti­ga­tion of a mur­der and dis­ap­pear­ance in Sand­brook, which pre­sum­ably is near Broad­church. The botched han­dling of that inves­ti­ga­tion is what led Hardy to take the DI posi­tion in Broad­church, which Miller assumed was already hers.

In the third sea­son, which is said to be the final one, Hardy after time away from Broad­church, returns and again is teamed with Miller. Their rela­tion­ship has always been tense – but by this time they carry on like elderly spouses, albeit there is no phys­i­cal side of it. When Trish Win­ter­man (Julie Hes­mond­halgh) calls the police a few days after being raped at the 50th birth­day party of a friend and co-​worker, Hardy and Miller over­see another inves­ti­ga­tion that tears the town apart. This sea­son is just six episodes long.

There are many fab­u­lous per­for­mances in Broad­church, begin­ning of course with Ten­nant and Col­man, but also by Hes­mond­halgh, Eva Myles (Gwen Cooper in Torch­wood), David Bradley (Walder Frey in Game of Thrones and the new First Doc­tor in Doc­tor Who), Arthur Darvill (a one­time Doc­tor Who com­pan­ion), who por­trays a vicar attempt­ing to heal the town of its wounds while preach­ing to mostly empty pews, as well as Car­olyn Pick­les. She plays a rar­ity – an hon­est jour­nal­ist search­ing for the truth who goes out of her way not to hurt anyone.

I didn’t include Whit­taker in that list, but per­haps not much was asked for her by direc­tors of Broad­church, although as the mother of a mur­dered child, that doesn’t make very much sense. Based on what I saw in the pro­gram, all the per­form­ers listed in the pre­vi­ous para­graph would have been bet­ter choices as the Thir­teenth Doc­tor, not that I would expect Ten­nant to return to Doc­tor Who. My choice would have been Bradley as the next – the first shall be the lat­est – Doc­tor. But per­haps a sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian as a lead char­ac­ter in a clas­sic tele­vi­sion show is too broad of a bridge to cross for our youth-​worshipping cul­ture to cross.

All three sea­sons are top-​notch, but I’ll give my nod to the first one, which was re-​done as Gra­ce­point for Fox in the United States. I haven’t seen that one and from what I’ve heard, it isn’t worth my time or yours, despite Ten­nant repris­ing his role as Hardy and Chibnall’s involvement.

Broad­church is avail­able on DVD, on Ama­zon, and Xfin­ity On Demand. Sea­sons one and two can be viewed on Netflix.

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit.

Characters in Broadchurch

By John Ruberry

A few days ago I finished watching season three of Broadchurch, a British mystery series which is broadcast in the United Kingdom on ITV–and here on BBC America–starring David Tennant as Detective Inspector Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman as Detective Inspector Ellie Miller.

Tennant of course is best known as the Tenth Doctor–and the second one of after its revival–in Doctor Who. Except for the first half of the “Tooth and Claw” episode, Tennant uses an English accent as the Doctor, here his natural Scottish accent is utilized for his Hardy character. One of the supporting characters in Broadchurch is Jodie Whittaker, who will accede to the Doctor’s role in the next Christmas episode of Doctor Who and become the first female Doctor, to the horror of some longtime fans, including the founder of the blog you are reading now.

The creator–and sole screenplay writer, save for one episode that he had a co-writer for–of Broadchurch is Chris Chibnall, who has been executive producer of Doctor Who since last year and who will be showrunner for the feminized edition next season. Chibnall was a co-producer and screenwriter for Torchwood, the sexualized “grown-up” spinoff of Doctor Who.

The fictional town of Broadchurch is where this particular show is set, it sits on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset in southwestern England. Broadchurch is a tightly knit–perhaps too much so–small town that, in season one, is wracked by the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer (Oskar McNamara). Whittaker portrays his mother, Beth, and Andrew Buchan plays his father, Mark. The suspects are numerous and there are plenty of plot twists to keep you on the edge of your couch for all eight episodes. Season two, which also consists of eight episodes, splits time between being a courtroom drama and the re-opening of the investigation of a murder and disappearance in Sandbrook, which presumably is near Broadchurch. The botched handling of that investigation is what led Hardy to take the DI position in Broadchurch, which Miller assumed was already hers.

In the third season, which is said to be the final one, Hardy after time away from Broadchurch, returns and again is teamed with Miller. Their relationship has always been tense–but by this time they carry on like elderly spouses, albeit there is no physical side of it. When Trish Winterman (Julie Hesmondhalgh) calls the police a few days after being raped at the 50th birthday party of a friend and co-worker, Hardy and Miller oversee another investigation that tears the town apart. This season is just six episodes long.

There are many fabulous performances in Broadchurch, beginning of course with Tennant and Colman, but also by Hesmondhalgh, Eva Myles (Gwen Cooper in Torchwood), David Bradley (Walder Frey in Game of Thrones and the new First Doctor in Doctor Who), Arthur Darvill (a onetime Doctor Who companion), who portrays a vicar attempting to heal the town of its wounds while preaching to mostly empty pews, as well as Carolyn Pickles. She plays a rarity–an honest journalist searching for the truth who goes out of her way not to hurt anyone.

I didn’t include Whittaker in that list, but perhaps not much was asked for her by directors of Broadchurch, although as the mother of a murdered child, that doesn’t make very much sense. Based on what I saw in the program, all the performers listed in the previous paragraph would have been better choices as the Thirteenth Doctor, not that I would expect Tennant to return to Doctor Who. My choice would have been Bradley as the next–the first shall be the latest–Doctor. But perhaps a septuagenarian as a lead character in a classic television show is too broad of a bridge to cross for our youth-worshipping culture to cross.

All three seasons are top-notch, but I’ll give my nod to the first one, which was re-done as Gracepoint for Fox in the United States. I haven’t seen that one and from what I’ve heard, it isn’t worth my time or yours, despite Tennant reprising his role as Hardy and Chibnall’s involvement.

Broadchurch is available on DVD, on Amazon, and Xfinity On Demand. Seasons one and two can be viewed on Netflix.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.