If you’re a fan of crime shows, but aren’t a fan of the “crime of the week” aspect that many crime procedurals throw at you then BBC America’s splendid and nicely crafted “Broadchurch” might be for you.
Chris Chibnall’s series, which debuted on the U.K.’s ITV earlier this year and recently made its American premiere on BBC America, opts to follow one crime for its entire season, instead of a new one every episode as you’d see on most shows of its ilk.
I’ve been desperately waiting for a series to do such a thing (I know AMC’s critically acclaimed, but ratings challenged “The Killing” does, but I got behind the ball on that). I’m a big fan of crime shows and love a good many different types of them, whether it’s the super-serious “NCIS,” the campy “Castle,” the unique and badass “Person of Interest” or the low-key, almost Western-y “Longmire,” but as with most network shows (with the exception of cable series “Longmire”) these series follow your “crime of the week” format, although all have the occasional arc story. A&E’s “Longmire” is one that I thought and hoped might become more serialized, but has not managed to do so throughout its first two seasons.
Serialized crime shows seem like they would be hard to succeed with, which is likely why you don’t see them more often, because you have to keep the show exciting and interesting by throwing out numerous twists, possibilities and complications along the way. The most important aspect of a serialized crime show is that the crime has to be extremely interesting in the first place, or you’ve lost viewers almost instantly.
“Broadchurch” is excellent at throwing out the twists, possibilities and complications throughout its first few episodes (the first three have aired thus far in America), but it takes its time in doing so. I find this admirable and think it helps set intrigue for the denouement of the series, many fans – particularly those preferring “crime of the week” stories – will likely find it tedious and boring.
“Broadchurch” is about the murder of 11-year Danny Latimer in the small, tight knit seaside town of Broadchurch. On the case is recently named Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, played by the immensely talented and intriguing David Tennant, and Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, played by the equally as talented Olivia Colman. Hardy is trying to get back in the groove of things after screwing up a major murder case at his previous position. Miller resents Hardy for receiving the job that was promised to her and also has to come to grips with dealing with a case that hits close to home, as she’s friends with the Latimer family and her son was best friends with Danny. This working relationship between Hardy and Miller is one of the finest aspects of the series, as the two supreme actors get to play characters that rub each other like sandpaper.
The supporting cast that features Andrew Buchan and Jodie Whitaker as Danny’s grieving parents – and possible suspects – and Arthur Darvill, as the local reverend (and also possible suspect) are incredibly adept at their roles. Basically every character in the series, except for Hardy and Miller (although she actually could be), are possible suspects in this whodunit, which makes for a fascinatingly tense watch.
Chibnall has crafted a supreme mystery – that I hope is not spoiled for many before the finale airs in America, as many already know the ending from its original run overseas – with fine acting performances, especially from Tennant.
The series has been picked up for a second season (surprisingly, as it was only intended to be a one off) by ITV, which is set to air over there sometime in early 2014, with a hopeful return to BBC America in mid-to-late 2014). Five episodes remain on the show’s first run in America and this titillating caper is setting up for a big and likely surprising finish.
“Broadchurch” can be seen locally on BBC America Conway Corp. Channel 103 on Wednesdays at 9 p.m.