Broadchurch Season 1
Recurring character(s): DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant), DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker), Mark Latimer (Andrew Buchan), Joe Miller (Matthew Gravelle), Tom Miller (Adam Wilson)
Director: James Strong (5 episodes), Euros Lyn (3 episodes)
Original air date(s): 03/04/2013 to 04/22/2013 (UK)
DVD Date: 04/01/2014
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 394 minutes
Note(s): Created and written by Chris Chibnall (7 episodes) and Louise Fox (1 episode).
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Review: I somehow missed seeing Broadchurch when it aired on BBC America. Fortunately, Netflix had the DVDs, which is how I recently watched the first season of this murder mystery series. It is, in a word, superb. Not flawless, to be sure, but very, very good.
The series opens with the murder of a young boy, found on a beach beneath a cliff on the southern shore of England. Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) has just returned from a vacation with her family in Florida to learn that her promised promotion to Detective Inspector was given to newcomer Alec Hardy (David Tennant). But she doesn't have time to be angry about it as the two must work together to solve the murder of Danny Latimer, the son of Ellie's close friends Beth and Mark.
As a murder mystery, it isn't too hard to quickly narrow down the number of suspects to just two or three if one assumes that the "obvious" choices are simply not going to turn out to be the killer. By the penultimate episode, that number is just one but a motive remains elusive. And when all is revealed in the final episode, it is ever so slightly unfair that the motive seemed to come out of thin air, with little to no foundation. I was also a little disappointed that the killer basically gave up and confessed, though Hardy had worked it all out ahead of time using, in all probability, the same method I (and no doubt countless other viewers) did.
Probably the only other significant element of the series that bothered me a bit was Hardy's backstory, which I found (a) confusing and (b) unnecessary. I would have spent the screen time spent on this on something else, probably creating another suspect or two or spending more time on filling out the backstories of the suspects already in play.
But enough about the negatives. The positives so much outweigh them that they seem rather petty in comparison. The actors are uniformly excellent, from the two principals to those that play minor roles on the stage. And what a stage. The setting of the West Bay cliffs of Dorset — the Jurassic Coast — is as much a part of the story as anyone or anything else. The script is crisply written and, Hardy's backstory notwithstanding, moves forward at a brisk pace to a surprising and largely unexpected conclusion. Most definitely one of the best crime dramas produced for television, and one that is highly recommended.
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