Surrender 120: Series Review: Broadchurch

I was originally drawn to this British television series because of the main actor. David Tennant had finished his stint as The Doctor, on Doctor Who. Appreciating this Scottish actor’s charm and talent, I was eager to continue watching him, even in another role. 

My grandson Dayan and I added Broadchurch season one to our Wednesday afternoon viewing lineup, watching an episode each week after catching the latest Legends of Tomorrow. We completed season one last week, and I feel ready to share a review as we launch into season two. 

Broadchurch stars David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Arthur Darvill, Jonathan Bailey, Matthew Gravelle, Adam Wilson, Joe Sims, Oskar McNamara and Charlotte Beaumont. This crime/drama/mystery is the creation of Chris Chibnall and, commercial-free, has a run time of 48 minutes. Dayan and I watch Broadchurch on Netflix. 

Broadchurch is a close-knit coastal community in England, shaken to its core by the inexplicable murder of an 11 year old boy named Danny (McNamara), whose body is discovered at the base of cliffs near the sea. Danny’s family is devastated and shocked, as is the entire town. Lead detective Alec Hardy (Tennant) arrives to head up the investigation, partnering with local detective Ellie Miller (Colman). 

But in a community where it seems that everyone knows everyone else, Hardy discovers that each resident has secrets that they will hide at any cost. Danny’s dad Mark (Buchan) is bored with his marriage, asking his friend and co-worker Nigel (Sims) to cover for his mysterious absences, while his mom Beth (Whittaker) is hiding news that should have been shared with joy. Danny’s sister Chloe (Beaumont) is sneaking out to meet an older boyfriend, and his best friend Tommy (Wilson) deletes text messages and attempts to destroy his laptop. 

From the town priest (Darvill), to the ambitious young newspaper journalist (Bailey), to Detective Miller’s stay at home husband Joe (Gravelle), everyone knows more than they are telling. Even Hardy has a dark past that haunts him and a medical condition that he refuses to disclose. His attempts to redeem himself in this new town are met with suspicion and resentment. 

At the heart of this drama is a dead boy, who had secrets of his own, and who is deeply missed by his family. All of season one focuses on unraveling the town’s mysteries and examining the complex and often sorrowful backstories of the residents of Broadchurch. At the end of the series’ first year, Danny’s killer is identified, in the startling conclusion. 

I like whodunnits. I like the challenge of following the story and attempting to stay ahead of the reveal, so that at the end I’ve guessed who the perpetrator is. Broadchurch is tightly written, edgy, full of angst and secrets…and surprises. At the end, I was blown away and totally wrong in figuring out who did it. Although it was very difficult for me that the victim is a child, this series is so finely crafted that I was enthralled. 

David Tennant is amazing in this role. He portrays the life weary and embittered Hardy so well, that when I met him recently at Comic Con I was surprised at how youthful he looked and how full of life he was. Olivia Colman is equally captivating, eliciting heart felt emotional responses from me. The two characters have a great love/hate relationship that plays out well as the season progresses. 

Many life lessons are presented throughout the series. Hardy and Miller learn to trust each other and their instincts. And in a town seeking justice, many injustices are committed, with innocent decent people hurt in the process. Looking for a monster hidden in their midst brings out the ugliness and the beasts of prejudice in so many. 

As always, I enjoy watching these thought provoking shows with my grandson. We talk about what’s going on. We exclaim, we mutter in surprise, and during the heart-wrenching scenes, we look at each other with woe in our faces. We connect what we’ve seen with life and the journey. 

This afternoon we began season two of Broadchurch, with episode one. Immediately we were back with familiar characters and some new faces, and a tense, surprising opening scenario. Hardy and Miller have grown into a more relaxed and easy relationship that contained hints of humor. And for the first time, I caught a glimpse of The Doctor peeking out through Alec Hardy’s careworn face. 

It’s going to be a great second season of Broadchurch.