I got hooked on this British television show after my grandson Dayan and I watched the first two seasons back to back on Netflix. Set in the fictional town of Broadchurch, in Dorset, England, the first season gripped me immediately with a shocking and heart wrenching storyline that was emotionally difficult to watch and impossible to look away from. Season two was a continuation of that story, and was just as riveting. The British have certainly mastered the crime/mystery genre. Both seasons can be viewed on Amazon Prime.
I have been patiently waiting for the third and final season to air in the US, so that I could return to the community where secrets abound and truths are hidden and no one is quite as they seem. Tonight Broadchurch premiered on BBC America.
Broadchurch stars David Tennant, Olivia Coleman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Arthur Darvill, Adam Wilson and Charlotte Beaumont as series regulars returning for this season. Newcomers include Julie Hesmondhalgh, Sarah Parish and Mark Bazeley.
This crime drama was directed by Paul Andrew Williams and was created by Chris Chibnall, who is concluding this series and becoming the show runner for Doctor Who. Chris is a brilliant writer and storyteller and I am excited to see what he brings to the Whovian universe.
Detectives Alec Hardy (Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Coleman) team up to solve another violent crime in their community. Trish Winterman (Hesmondhelgh) reports a sexual assault…two days after it happened. In shock, feeling shame and confusion, Trish reveals that the attack happened at her friend Cath’s (Parish) 50th birthday party. The celebration was held at a manor outside of town with 70 – 80 guests attending. Such a large guest list and the 48 hour delay in reporting the crime makes Hardy and Miller feel like they are already hopelessly behind in the investigation.
As the pair begins asking questions and establishing a crime scene, familiar Broadchurch residents are reintroduced, three years after the events in season two. Mark Latimer (Buchan) has found an outlet for his anger and grief by cowriting a book. He and the town’s church official, Rev Coates (Darvill), are still friends. Beth Latimer (Whittaker) has funneled her energy into helping women in crises. Their teenage daughter Chloe (Beaumont) is attending the university, while Ellie’s son Tom (Wilson) is a 15 year old in high school.
While life appears normal for the residents of Broadchurch, beneath the surface are tensions and suspicions and hearts that are closed. Such an assault in their midst will uncover what lies hidden and tear their relationships apart…or bind them together in unity.
Episode one was an excellent beginning to a new story in Broadchurch. While this season could stand alone, I wouldn’t recommend skipping the first two installments. The complexities of the characters can’t easily be sorted out in eight episodes.
And they are complex…gritty…real. I am a fan of David Tennant, whom I came to appreciate as the Tenth Doctor in that other favorite BBC show of mine, Doctor Who. His character here is darker, edgy, driven. In counterbalance is his detective partner, portrayed splendidly by Olivia Coleman. She provides the warmth and humanity in the series, as a woman who works long hours with the police department while trying to raise her sons. She has such empathy for the crime victims, tearing up when they cry, offering tenderness and genuine concern in the face of horrors.
The rest of the characters are excellently played as well. We get peeks into the joys and challenges of their lives as they recover in varying degrees from the traumas of their own pasts. The central character this season, Trish, captured my sympathy immediately. The subject of sexual assault was handled well, without downplaying the severity of such a crime. My eyes filled with tears several times, watching as Trish moved through the painful process of being questioned by the detectives and examined by medical personnel. I felt compassion toward all who have experienced such a personal tragedy.
“Do you believe me?” Trish hesitantly asks the detectives. And that, I suspect, will become the question during this final season of Broadchurch. What is true? What isn’t? Who is hiding what?
I am looking forward to discovering the answers as the story unfolds.