By Taylor Finke
Over the past week, I decided to indulge my obsession with British television by watching ‘Broadchurch’, mainly because former ‘Doctor Who’ stars David Tennant and Arthur Darvill both make appearances. After being disappointed by ‘Spies of Warsaw’, I was more than a little skeptical of the crime-drama. However, from the first episode I was hooked.
The series takes place in Broadchurch, a small town in Dorset, England. It’s a beautiful seaside town with beaches and breathtaking cliffs, the kind of town where everyone knows everybody, and nothing ever happens.
Detective sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) comes back to from a three week leave to find that her promotion to detective inspector was given to a newcomer. Alec Hardy (David Tennant) is an irritable, former big-time detective who instantly clashes with DS Miller.
Later, the two detectives are called out to investigate a report of a body on the beach. On their arrival, Miller recognizes it as the body of 11 year-old Danny Latimer, her son’s best friend. Nothing like this has ever happened in Broadchurch before, and it leaves the town-especially the Latimer family- reeling.
Suspicions run high, and shocking secrets are revealed as the suspects are narrowed down, including familiar faces Rev. Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill, Rory from ‘Doctor Who’) and Jack Marshall (David Bradley, Argus Filch from ‘Harry Potter’). Everyone- and I mean everyone– has skeletons in their closets, things that could connect them to the murder of Danny Latimer. The show kept me guessing until the very end, and still managed to surprise me a little.
What I really appreciated about ‘Broadchurch’ is that it focused on just one case through 8 episodes. This allowed deep character development and keep me in suspense with the characters’ secrets being revealed little-by-little. Also, it allowed the Latimers to become emotionally-realistic, rather than just the shallow characters that simply provide clues to solve the case.
Along with the engaging plotline, the acting helped make ‘Broadchurch’ a success. As the devastated, off-balanced mother Beth Latimer, Jodie Whittaker stole the screen. Her portrayal of was heart-rending, and scary. The leading lady also does not disappoint; as Ellie Miller, Olivia Colman is a force to be reckoned with. While she is initially kind and trusting, as the series progresses she transforms into a hardened detective, after discovering that nobody is who they seem to be. The change in her attitude is clearly brought about by her exposure to the grumpy superior, DI Hardy.
As a Tennant fangirl, I just have to mention that once again, his transformation is complete. He never plays the same character twice, and this time he assumes the identity of the suspicious, world-weary detective Alec Hardy, with a pallid face, lank hair and scruffy beard. Hardy has more than his fair share of devastating secrets, and Tennant physically seems to carry the weight on his shoulders. He also used his actual Scottish accent, which would have had me watching even if the rest of the show was terrible. This was not the case, however, since ‘Broadchurch’ kept the twists and secrets coming.
My only complaint about the show is the somewhat unrealistic noncompliance of some of the suspects. I can’t say much without giving spoilers, but some characters got on my nerves when they put themselves in suspicion by not telling the truth. I suppose that’s normal in a drama, though.
Even if you’re not a fan of British television yet, I would highly suggest watching ‘Broadchurch’. Fascinating characters, twisty plotlines and brilliant acting abound. It’s a good gateway show into the addicting, yet rewarding, world of British television.
‘Broadchurch’ will premiere on BBC America sometime later this year.
Taylor Finke is a freshman. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.