Television: Broadchurch (Series 1)

Posted 14 January, 2014 by Lianne in Entertainment / 4 Comments

The murder of a young boy in a small coastal town brings a media frenzy, which threatens to tear the community apart.


I had been meaning to watch this show for some time now; the direction looks fantastic and I’m intrigued by the story (doesn’t hurt that it’s good to see David Tennant on my screen again) I first learned about it when I saw that one of my favourite composers, Olafur Arnalds, composed the soundtrack. SPOILERS ahead if you haven’t watched the first series (though I will use spoiler tags towards the end)!

Gosh, I don’t even know where to start with this show. I ended up watching it twice over the weekend–first time by myself, second time with my family. My initial impressions about this series was that if this was a novel, it would have been a very riveting one. The way the story opened up and handled both the mystery and the emotional impact, was deftly handled and while on the second viewing the mystery/police investigation was mired with incompetence and slow reaction/pick-ups here and there, the red herrings definitely kept my attention and revealed a lot about the characters in this town in the process.

I love how in-depth this series was as a character study. On the one hand you are given a glimpse of how a tragedy impacts this small, close-knit community, how one family struggles to come to terms with their loss, face their grief and find some sort of meaning and connection in their lives again. And it’s not just the family, it’s also all of the people who interacted and were connected to Danny one way or the other: Ellie’s family, colleagues from the Sea League, teachers, classmates, friends. It’s painful to watch sometimes as these characters grieve and yet their loss informs their actions and decisions over the course of these eight episodes.

And on the other hand of this study is the character exploration of Alec Hardy, Ellie Miller and to some extent the rest of the characters. Alec is such a mystery at the start of this show: he’s gruff, he’s all about the job, he’s a bit of a downer and can be pretty socially…off (for lack of a better term; I find it oddly loveable but my reactions are also similar to Ellie’s). But as the series progresses you start learning more about Alec, that he’s suffering from a health condition, about his past, what happened in his last case and his own personal struggles about each and every one of those events. Again I love how they film this show because with the way that it was shot, it really feels like the audience is being given a glimpse into these characters’ heads.

Ellie’s development was also fantastic, it’s interesting to contrast how we first saw her to the last two episodes: as a detective she’s more objective, she’s thinking outside the box, she becomes more comfortable leading the case when Alec’s not around. Watching it a second time it was a little weird that she was able to stay on the case considering how close she was to the victim’s family but it does provide the audience with a personal insight into the story, connecting the murder mystery storyline with the emotional reaction storyline.

The other characters were also interesting in their own way. Everyone has their own problems and issues underneath the surface, all of which come to the open thanks to this tragedy. From the vicar Paul to the Latimers to Jack who runs the news corner store, they all had their key moments, allowing the actors their moment to shine. Some had more time spent than others (felt Paul was rather underused from the line-up of suspects) but it was all very interesting and really added to the story.

Also, Jodie Whitaker’s performance as Beth absolutely killed me (second favourite performance after Olivia Colman? Olivia Colman, Jodie Whitaker and David Tennant’s performances were my favourite here)

Okay, I had to talk about this behind a spoiler cut because I think these were my favourite scenes in the entire series:

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

I also love how this show touches on the impact of the police, the media, the church, the community both on the investigation and the lives of the characters who were affected by the tragedy. Jack’s storyline and the journalists’ role in his tragedy is one good example of this which was both sad and intriguing.

Despite of the gloominess and emotional weight of the show, there are a few moments that I thought were rather amusing (in a dry sort of way). All of them involved Alec and Ellie; I love the gradual development of their relationship, from prickly to trust. And some of the dialogue in between, from Alec’s issue with referring to someone by their first name to Ellie trying to remind him of his manners. Oh, and in general Ellie has some great lines:

“With respect sir, please move away or I will piss in a cup and throw it at you.”

“Lenses down or I swear to God I will kick you all in the balls.”

Moving along, the cinematography and the direction was just fantastic. I love the way they utilised their location: it’s beautiful and scenic and yet underneath that idyllic surface you can see that sort of bleakness at times, the isolation and the cold. And as I mentioned before, the direction was fantastic, it gave the audience a sense of what was going on in the character’s head, like when Ellie was walking around town (that sense of time slowing down, feeling isolated in her grief) to Alec’s check up with the Chief Medical Officer (that sense of the clinical, the distance/detachment from it all). I noticed Ellie seemed to be the only one who didn’t get shots like this (a few lingering shots, of course), as if she was living life pretty normally.

Overall Broadchurch was a fascinating show that really kept my attention and had me thinking every step of the way (hence why we marathoned the show on two occasions). I am curious to see how they will move ahead with series 2 given when Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller ended up at the end of this series. Not to mention the idea of another murder in this town? What could possibly happen at Broadchurch next, this case already tore this community apart. So yeah, I’m dreadfully curious about this next series. I’m also sceptical about there being a US remake of this show (sceptical being a nice word to describe this–I really see no point (sorry David Tennant–okay, maybe, just maybe I’ll try to tune in? If only to hear his American accent)). But going back to this series, it was fantastic from direction to performances; I highly recommend it!

Rating: ★★★★★ to infinity


4 Responses to “Television: Broadchurch (Series 1)”

  1. I have to see it because everyone loves it, and apparently I don’t have enough crime fiction in my life already 🙂

    Have you heard about Wallander? I can’t think of anything better than Kenneth Branagh being a detective.

    • Yes, definitely watch it! 😀 I think you’ll enjoy it, the mystery element and the character study were intriguing and it’s quite addictive, lol.

      I’ve been meaning to watch Wallander! Glad to hear it’s good, the location stuff looks stunning. Have you read the books?

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