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Monday, August 12, 2013

Broadchurch: Powerful Viewing

I caught the first episode of Broadchurch on BBC America last night, and found it outstanding.   If you're a devotee of British detective and cop shows - from Morse to Frost to Lynley to Waking the Dead to Prime Suspect to Luther - you'll recognize Broadchurch as very much belonging in this evolving tradition.   Broadchurch has all the elements - the tension between men and women in various police positions, all that great DI, DS, DC, CS, Guv stuff - plus an upping of the ante with an intense single-investigation plot spans the entire 8-episode season.

BBC America has been comparing Broadchurch to The Killing, and the comparison is apt.  A teenager is murdered (in this case, a boy, Danny), and everyone and their grandmother is a possible suspect, or at least in possession of some information vital to solving the crime.   The detectives themselves are connected to the case far more personally than detectives should be.  DS Ellie Miller lives nearly next door to Danny's family, and indeed Miller's son Tom was not only good friends with Danny, but erases messages on his smartphone from or to Danny as soon as Tom learns that Danny was murdered.  DS Miller was due to be promoted to DI, but the position was given without warning to Alec Hardy, who is fresh off some controversial case from wherever he was previously.

The media also get some cold scrutiny and a good bashing in the first episode of this series, as they invade the privacy of Danny's family in pursuit of the story.  And a prime player in this media part of the narrative is Ollie, eager to make a name for himself, finding it hard to move up in the shrinking traditional media world, and, oh yeah, he's Ellie's nephew.   This makes her doubly involved in the case beyond her detective work.   But as my wife pointed out, Broadchurch is a small town.

The show also has a keener than usual appreciation of social media and their contribution to contemporary journalism.  Ollie tweets some early breaking news about the case - he's the first to identify the family - and Danny's sister Chloe gets information on the case by putting out a Google Alert on Broadchurch and death.   I don't need to put Broadchurch into my Google Calendar, because it's easy enough to remember that show is on Wednesday night, same night as Law & Order UK.

Driven by who knows what, and amplified by traditional and social media, just about everyone in Broadchurch seems to be hiding something, and I'm in for the roller coaster ride of discovery.


download Broadchurch season 1 on
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