For this week, I figured I'd stick with my BBC America theme and bring you my pilot review of Broadchurch, the murder mystery mega-hit from England that's just making it's way over to the states. My family and I sat down to watch the first of this eight episode mini-series which premiered in the U.S. last week (just in time to fill the hole left by the end of The Killing), and stars Dr. Who veterans David Tennant and Olivia Colman as two small-town detectives bent on solving the murder of an 11-year old boy.
But, Liz - haven't we seen this before? We have. It seems like everywhere you turn in TV-land lately, somebody's getting murdered (a fact that's been sadly proven by Vulture), yet shows without killing in them aren't seen as "quality programming". I'm sorry, but I'm a little murdered-out. So what separates this show from the masses of violent gar-bahge we're inundated with every day? Good question - let's break it down:
While the acting is a little over the top at times, the characters really do set Broadchurch apart from it's fellow dark police dramas. Detective Ellie Miller (Coleman) is the most interesting of the bunch so far - Danny's death hits her harder than anyone on the force since he's the son of her best friend, Beth (Jodie Whittaker), and practically a brother to her own son, Tom (Adam Wilson). Plus, she's dealing with her nosy journalist nephew, Olly (Jonathan Bailey) and the fact that the job she was promised was snatched out from under her by Tennant's DI Alec Hardy. He's the outsider who came to Broadchurch to lie low after a mysterious scandal, but is now forced to solve the most high profile murder case the town has ever seen. We spend a lot of time with Hardy and Miller in this episode, so we only get a glimpse into the lives of Danny's neighbors and family: we meet his popular, yet can't-quite-put-your-finger-on-it-suspicious father, Mark (Andrew Buchan), his rebellious older sister, Chloe (Charlotte Beaumont), and his creepy employer at the paper route, Jack (David Bradley). Everyone in town seems to be hiding something, but we'll have to wait until next week to discover more about each of their roles in this mystery.
This series reminds me a lot of the recent Top of the Lake, in both style (gorgeous nature shots figure prominently in both shows) and substance: both are mini-series that surround a pre-teen tragedy, take place in a small town, and center on female detectives who are working on cases that hit a little too close to home as they deal with the sexist politics of the job. Just like in Top of the Lake, every Broadchurch townie we meet is a suspect to some extent, and I like that I'll be kept guessing until the last moments of the finale. While Broadchurch seems like it's walking a little closer to the beaten path than the weird and original TOTL, it's so well done I expect the familiar material will be similarly elevated to the point where we won't be comparing it to The Killing anymore as the series goes on.
They literally went nuts for this show in Britain, and it was such a huge cultural phenomenon that Fox is planning to remake the series for American audiences (either because they don't trust us to "get" this version, or they've seen what a massive hit it is and are ready to make some serious bank). The reviews of this series have been overwhelmingly positive, and the best news is that after 8 episodes the killer will be revealed, so there's no waiting until the twelfth of never to find out who-dunnit. Just don't jump too deep into the Google rabbit-hole on this one: the finale has already aired in England, so you don't want to stumble upon any across-the-pond spoilers.
Broadchurch airs Wednesday nights at 10 on BBC America, and as of this post, the pilot is available to stream on demand on bbcamerica.com.
Just a few things before I start my new job as Head British Accent Subtitle Coordinator for BBC America (I might not make as much as the woman who does it for Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, but at least all my viewings of Happy-Go-Lucky won't have been for nothing)...
- Leah's Dome Update for the week of 8/12: "Julia is becoming quite intrigued by this new 'mini dome' with a black egg in the middle that Joe and Nori discovered last week. This shiz is getting intense."
- Do you guys follow Stacey Helps? She's a hilarious blogger from Toronto who also contributes to hellogiggles.com - check out her recent video on advice for binge-watching Orange is the New Black. This girl doesn't play around with her TV marathons, let me tell you.
- In oh this is going to be goooood news: Funny ladies June Diane Raphael (New Girl, Burning Love) and Casey Wilson (Happy Endings, SNL) are teaming up to write a new sitcom for ABC! I can't wait to see what these two comic geniuses come up with, and you know there's gonna be guest stars galore - would it be too much to ask for a Happy Endings reunion? Just sayin'...
Let me update ya: follow me on bloglovin by hitting the icon at the top of the page!
See you next Wednesday!