Broadchurch: A review.
There were two things I thought when I first saw the series Broadchurch advertised: 1. Mmmm David Tennant 2. Ugh ITV.
ITV notoriously does “bad” crime television. They usually start well, with promise, intrigue and anticipation.But quickly deteriorate into over-sensationalised, unbelievable predictability.
But no more! ITV I bow down in respect. You really showed me.
Broadchurch was none of the above.
It was sincere, original and clever; and it has carved a new, beautiful path for the crime thriller.
After spending 7 weeks following the villagers adjust to a murder, 7 weeks watching the chemistry between DI Alec Hardy and DS Ellie Miller delicately dance upon the screen and 7 weeks wondering “whodunnit?” whilst falling a little bit in love with Olivia Colman. The final episode had a lot to live up to… Not to mention that on Monday night, 8.9 million other people were also wondering the same thing as me : “Was it really the detective’s husband?”
But the secret to its success was not in a shock twist or a “Nooooooooo!” moment! It was not in a farcical subplot or a forgotten character from episode 2. The secret lay in the development solution; the slow unravel that we, the viewer, was part of . We were there with Alec Hardy all the way, some of us 1 step ahead, some clever sods (like my OH) even 4 or 5 steps ahead.
But I wasn’t one of the clever folk who got it way back in episode 3 when the detective came to dinner. No, I was putty in the writer’s hand. Gently meandering along the signals and pointers they had laid out for me. For example, it wasn’t until Detective Miller’s judgemental scorn fell on to Pauline’s Quirke’s character (that down right creepy Susan Wright) and she sneered “How could you not know?” that was when the penny dropped for me and I thought “It was him. It was Joe!”
But I still felt clever, which is what the writer’s wanted me to feel. I felt good. I’d cracked it. Before Tennant too! Maybe, I could tell him my theory over wine and a bubble bath.
However, it became obvious when the killer was caught before the first ad break that this reveal wasn’t what the writer’s had been building up to. They were going for something more than that. And more is what we got. Together we closed the case. The viewer got some well-earned closure.
I had already edged my bets it was “the husband” and I couldn’t escape the theme of sexual abuse that had infiltrated its way into Broadchurch, even though the post-mortem at the start revealed Danny’s attack was not sexually motivated. Therefore, when the words “59 days earlier” appeared on the screen I caught my breath. Why had he done it? Was he abusing his son? Was he protecting his son? What had Danny found out?
But the next scene, its opening, was so clever, unexpected, powerful and haunting. I’m having difficulty shaking it.
At first you think he is hugging Ellie. You are filled with relief, perhaps a little disappointment, that all along it has been an “unfortunate accident”. But no it’s not Ellie. It’s a boy and the image of comfort and affection suddenly becomes disturbingly haunting. Clever.
So we get closure. We get to see the aftermath of what happens after they get the killer. Not just to the detectives, who usually leave the office asking “whose round it is?” But the victim’s family, the suspect’s family and the village itself. And we get to understand more about the death of Danny, the suspect’s state of mind and a topic which has suffocated TV police dramas.
Broadchurch broke the mould of police drams , because it gave us something more. It wasn’t just about finding a killer but finding answers and I feel that is what we got. And when it ended I didn’t feel any disappointment, not even a bit. Especially as the final nugget was the reveal in white words that “Broadchurch will return”.
But hang on, before you start “second series bashing” this isn’t one of those ITV, doesn’t know when to leave things alone scenarios… Apparently. Apparently, when the writer’s were writing this series they already had a story for a second series which they considered just as strong! So I’m hopeful. It’s coming back. There’s more good police drama to come. Just don’t cock it up ITV!