Broadchurch came to my attention for the same reason many of our readers were no doubt drawn to it: the presence of long-time Doctor Who star, David Tennant, in the series’ lead role. Yet I soon learned the series co-starred fellow Doctor Who alum, Arthur Darvill, and was written and created by Chris Chibnall, who has written for both Doctor Who and Torchwood. And thus my viewership was assured. (In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan of the Doctor Who.) Given that my viewing of the series was inevitable, I avoided all trailers and spoilers and approached the series knowing literally no more than I’ve already related to you about it.
What I found in Broadchurch is a gripping and irresistible murder mystery to which I can’t help but draw parallels to The Killing (and Twin Peaks to a certain extent, though Broadchurch lacks Twin Peaks’ Lynchian kookiness entirely). Tennant plays Alec Hardy, the small coastal town of Broadchurch’s newly-appointed Detective Inspector. The brooding and ever-disheveled Hardy’s come to Broadchurch to escape his past failures, but finds himself in all-too-familiar territory when Broadchurch is shaken by the apparent murder of 11-year-old local boy, Danny Latimer. The investigation into Danny’s death, of course, proves to be anything but an open-and-shut case. And what seemed at first an idyllic little village proves to be a hotspot of inequity as the investigation churns up the citizenry’s multitude of dark secrets. We quickly realize that anyone—literally anyone— in Broadchurch could be to blame for the boy’s death.
From the heartbreaking discovery of Danny’s body on a beach through to the season finale, Broadchurch demands marathon viewing, just as the aforementioned Killing and Twin Peaks did before it. Truly, I wish you good luck in your attempts to go to bed at a reasonable hour once you’ve started this one! Fortunately for anyone possessing, as I do, a total lack of willpower with regard to stymieing media intake, the season is but eight episodes long. So you’re really only looking at two relatively sleepless nights at most.
That said, sleep or no, you’ll wish there were so much more Broadchurch when you reach the end of the finale to find on-screen promises of future episodes. As I understand it, the series was only ever intended as a one-off, as many British series of this length are; however, the success of the series prompted producers to begin planning a follow-up, of which there is apparently yet no word. There is, however, word of an American remake in the works, and that truly should surprise no one. What is surprising is that Tennant has in fact been confirmed as the star of this remake, and Nick Nolte will be there too. So there’s hope for it yet, I say!
Broadchurch: The Complete First Season is currently available stateside in a 3-DVD set from Entertainment One. By way of special features, the collection includes deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette. The tragedy of this release, though, is that Broadchurch is actually a beautifully-shot series that just begs for an HD release, yet there is none available to those of us without region-free players. While the DVDs look fine, there is a fairly predictable amount pixellation throughout that thankfully becomes far less noticeable the more you engross yourself in the mystery.