4 Things to Like About Broadchurch

Broadchurch

One bright spot in the between season lull we are experiencing is the BBC America program Broadchurch. Even though it is finishing its first season soon, there will be a second season, so there is even more reason to cheer!

Broadchurch centers on a murder mystery. Danny Latimer, age 11, is found dead on the beach in a small coastal town in England. However, the program is not just a murder mystery, trying to find out who killed Danny, but also spends considerable time exploring the impact of the murder on Danny’s family and in fact the entire town, as they all struggle to cope with and understand this tragedy.

While this approach is not completely unique, to me it just has a different vibe that I find very appealing. Here is my list of characteristics that make this show appealing to me.

David Tennant
 

David Tennant - Broadchurch

For all the Whovians out there, Broadchurch stars David Tennant, a former Dr. Who. The character he plays, the lead detective in the investigation into the murder, is of course nothing like the Doctor, but he does a masterful job portraying an outsider to this community who is haunted by a past investigation that went terribly wrong. Compounding his woes is a serious medical problem.

Clearly, this DI, or Detective Inspector, is haunted by the past. He is a somber, solitary man, certainly not making any friends, and in many ways not friend material. He has a single focus – to solve this murder and thus in some way redeem himself from the past. The problem is that the past keeps cropping up. Townspeople are very aware of what happened, and the mother of the murdered boy even goes so far as to meet with the mother of the victims from the past killing. As if that is not enough, he has some kind of serious medical condition that keeps causing blackouts at the most unfortunate moments.

Slowly Unraveling the Mystery
 

Broadchurch Episode 2 (2)

During the course of the first season, the mystery behind Danny’s death is slowly unraveled, along with the lives of the townspeople. What I like is that there seems to be no hurry to find the killer as the program slowly and methodically follows up on the leads, and makes new discoveries as the investigation plays out.

These new discoveries frequently involve secrets that cast most people in a negative light, at least until some of them can be fully explained. I mean, I get it, we all have secrets, some much worse than others. But, under ordinary circumstances our secrets do not play out in front of the entire community where we live. However, in this program, a lot of these secrets come out into the light of day, and the consequences vary, but also cause the focus of suspicion to change drastically as each secret is revealed.

No One is Beyond Suspicion
 

Tom, Fred, Joe and Ellie Miller - Broadchurch

Each week it seems that someone else is under suspicion. And, each person that comes under additional scrutiny is there for a good reason. Some of these people act in a very shady way. It is certainly natural for anyone to draw the conclusion that they are up to no good. And every time we get an answer to a question, it seems to lead to a new question or strange behavior on the part of someone else! This program peeks behind the curtain, into the lives of these ordinary citizens, which really amps up the drama as we learn that no one is completely innocent, or so it seems!

For instance, why is Danny’s friend Tom erasing messages from his phone and files from his computer? Why is Susan hiding Danny’s skateboard in her closet? Why does she then give it to Tom, knowing that his mother is the Detective Sergeant on the murder case? Why does Joe keep interfering in the questioning of his son Tom about Danny?

Town-Wide Impact Explored
 

Broadchurch

Earlier this year, I taped and watched In the Flesh, another BBC program that was a three part miniseries. As an aside, I have recently read that there may be a second season in the works, which would be wonderful.

The reason I am bringing this up is because I think there is a parallel between that series and Broadchurch, in that both shows spent considerable time looking at how everyone else, not just the family of the victim and the people close to them, are impacted by this terrible tragedy. Truly this is a community-wide event, with ripple effects felt rather far.

For me, I find the exploration of the further impact to be very compelling, and very important to the story being told. After all, nothing happens in isolation, but many times we do not get to see how peripheral characters are involved or affected.

 

If you have a chance, please check out this program. As I said at the beginning, it is just a couple of episodes away from finishing the season, but you might want to watch for repeats. It will be worth it! If you have been watching it, please let me know what you think in the comments section below!