Not in Our Town (Series Review: “Broadchurch, Season 1”)

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A captivating portrait of a sleepy British town whose close-knit neighbors are devastated when a nice boy from a good family shows up dead, and soon old friends are scrutinized as possible murderers.

SnapShot Plot

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in an emotionally engrossing and suspenseful crime thriller this summer, look no further than Broadchurchthe series that captivated BBC audiences back in 2013, with all three seasons streaming on Netflix. The story begins with an unsettling image of a young boy perched on a steep cliff at night, peering over the edge at a perilous drop to a sandy beach below. Who is the boy, is this a dream or reality? The next day the gruesome truth is revealed as the body of 11-yr old Danny Latimer is discovered on that same beach in the seaside town of Broadchurch, marking the first murder in the town’s history. Broadchurch is the sort of place that keeps to itself, where families live and die peaceful lives through the generations, where familial and neighborhood bonds are cemented in real and historic ways. In other words, the murder of Danny Latimer has rocked this town to its core.

As luck would have it, on this same day arrives on the scene D.I. Alec Hardy (played by the wonderful Scottish actor David Tennant) who seems ill-suited from the start to small town life, a curmudgeonly fish out of water whose job orientation has him thrust into a devastating murder case before he’s even had a chance to sharpen a pencil. Assigned to his service is Detective Sargent Ellie Miller (played by Olivia Colman), a sincere yet ambitious investigator who loves her family and her town, and can’t make hide nor hair of her perplexingly acerbic new boss. Worse still, Ellie’s own ties with the Latimers are deep (their sons had been best friends) as is her frustration as she struggles to reconcile her role as family friend with that of criminal investigator who must view everyone as a possible suspect, even as her heart breaks for the family’s suffering. Colman’s performance in this show is nothing short of breathtaking. The cherry on top is the wry chemistry between Hardy and Miller which includes a good dose of witty banter (if you can pick it up through Tennant’s Scottish accent).

A wide cast of characters makes up the human palette surrounding the murder investigation, some more shadowy than others, but never do we doubt that they spring from this very place. And as Hardy and Miller’s investigation draws them deeper into the events that took place on the night Danny Latimer was killed, so does the mystery beating much closer to home than anyone could imagine.

 

 

Parting Shot

The complete series of Broadchurch is available on Netflix, with a fourth season in the works. But unlike most episodic shows that almost force the viewer into each successive season (like Stockholm Syndrome hostages) the cliffhanger at the end of season 1 invites viewers back more as a matter of choice rather than necessity. Meaning if one were to stop right there at the end of the eighth (and last) episode, one might walk away with quite a satisfactory sense of resolution. Perhaps this reflects a production  – made for broadcast TV – which wasn’t sure it would be picked up for a second season and wanted to give its audience a full emotional ride. Perhaps. And what a ride it was. What Broadchurch was able to capture in its wide net of characters, beneath the secrets and lies (some more illicit than others) was a feeling of real people at home in their little world. And that felt absolutely intoxicating.

Related News: Interestingly, series creator, Chris Chibnall apparently had so much success with Broadchurch on British television that he recreated the series for American audiences – again starring David Tennant – in a 2014 show entitled, Gracepoint. . . to middling success. And on another note, just two days ago it was announced that Jodie Whittaker (who plays Danny Latimer’s mother in Broadchurch) has been cast as the 13th Dr. Who on British television, a mantle she will now share with Broadchurch co-star, David Tennant, who was Dr. Who #10. Not to be outdone, Olivia Colman (who here plays D.S. Ellie Miller) will be taking over the role of Queen Elizabeth from Claire Foy in the smash Netflix series, The Crown. Colman will embody the monarch’s role in seasons three and four, set to begin airing in 2019.

Broadchurch is presently streaming on Netflix.

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YouTube Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j73TJjFpEHQ

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