Wednesday, 11 September 2013
My sister lives in a different country but we stay in touch fairly consistently via email and this useful phone program called WhatsApp. Anyway, we were texting briefly and she mentioned something about a show called Broadchurch, a mini-series (at least, that was what I thought, although it might have more seasons?) that she had seen which she very much enjoyed.
Her: ERMAGERD it has DAVID TENNANT!!!
She rarely steers me wrong though, so I decided to give it a shot. Standing at eight episodes, I didn't feel like it would be much of a commitment, unlike embarking on something such as Dr. Who. Ain't nobody got time for dat.
Quickly I realised that David Tennant was Barty Crouch Jr.--not exactly an endearing character...
(SIDE NOTE: I found some mildly disturbing home-made wallpapers worshipping Barty Crouch Jr., tagline: I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Eek.)
Apparently Tennant also acted as Dr. Who. I wouldn't know. Like I said...no time for that. Am I getting way off topic here? I feel like I am. TO THE SUBJECT AT HAND: I started watching Broadchurch and was immediately sucked in.
The premise is this: there is a murder of a child (Danny Latimer) in a small town and the head detectice Alec Hardy (Tennant) is forced to delve deep into the lives of community members in an attempt to uncover the truth. There is also some side stuff happening that jumbles in with the main murder plot, including Hardy's previous case which was bungled by one of his sergeants. As well, he has who appears to be an estranged daughter, although that is never really explored.
First off, I think the strongest part of this show was the acting. I cannot praise it enough. The moment when the mother discovers her son is dead astounded me. I have never been able to truly comprehend those moments on shows or movies because I have never had a child, but the acting was so incredible I came to this...place...where I sat on the couch and thought, 'dear God, the pain she must be feeling'. I was so impressed that she was able to convey a mother's loss so strongly.
As the town slowly unravels, there are more sad characters that are introduced with back stories that make you weep. No, literally, I wept. In at least two, probably three, episodes I couldn't stop the tears leaking out.
The music is unlike any tv show I have seen. It was very moody with a lot of cellos and dark overtones. I mean, look at the heavy subject matter... They did a fantastic job of incorporating it into the script and the plot. I would say that many of the of the highly emotional moments were carried along in tone by the music. I hope they release some type of OST. (Nerdgasm.)
So the acting was good, especially from supporting characters. There was one side plot in particular (not going to say what happens, only this one name: JACK MARSHALL) that was sooo tragic, it made me want to watch comedy movies for the next few months.
In the first part of the series I didn't much care for Tennant's acting and the character he was building. Alec Hardy is this out-of-town detective who is leading the investigation, working primarily with Ellie Miller, who is also a close family friend of the Latimers (murdered child family). He takes over the case and everyone in the police department has to get used to his odd-duck ways. Tennant grew on me though; I especially was amused by his many dramatic faces.
The deep sighing...
The disgusted face...
The heavy lidded eye roll...
The eventual unavoidable emotional breakdown...
The actors/actresses of the Latimer family perform solidly together as broken yet persistent family unit. Beth, mother, carries the weight of Danny's death the most heavily and the series strongly focuses on the effect her child's death has on her life. We have all seen news clips when children have been murdered, but what does a parent suffer through? How far will they go to find the killer? And what will they do if they manage to find them? How do you carry on and have a meaningful life when you have lost someone forever?
While the Latimer family grapples with this death, the rest of the town goes into shock as well, and then commence to immediately begin hiding secrets, any and all secrets no matter how relevant or unimportant they are, much to the frustration of Hardy. In a murder case, who cares about an unrelated sordid love affair? As Hardy and Miller fight to see through all this confusion, they also seek to bring peace and trust back into the small community any way that they can.
But the whole time as a viewer you are nervous and wondering...who did kill Danny Latimer? Who can we trust in this story? Alibis are questioned and I felt jumpy as I tried not to get attached to certain people. The writing is very clever in this series and the dialogue is NEVER stilted. Broadchurch poses this question: in our day and age, who can we rely on? Are our neighbours safe? Are we really looking out for each other?
Some of the criticisms I read on IMDb were that Ellie Miller should not have been allowed on the case if she had known the family members. However, realistically speaking, in a small town there isn't much that can be done in such a situation as you work with what you have.
Here was another criticism I repeatedly saw: why was it is so easy to guess who murdered Danny? I guessed right away. The motive was stupid. This is poor writing. I hate this show!!!111!!!
Okay, first off, it's not poor writing if the motive chosen doesn't line up with your best interests. Secondly, and pay attention because this is important, the focus of the show is not the murder. Even though it is what the season hinges on, the greater second half of it is about how the family is affected by their loss and what the town is doing to help (or hinder) the investigation.
This is much deeper than a stand-alone NCIS or Criminal Minds episode. You have to look at the season as giant arc of emotions, turmoil, change, growth, regression, sadness, relationships, etc, etc. There isn't a quick solving of murder and that's it. What happens goes past the murder into the lives of the people who are one way or another affected by Danny's death.
I give Broadchurch a 9/10 and say, GO WATCH IT. You will be moved. The ending will make you a bit uncomfortable and it may be months before you feel the urge to watch it again, but it is worth watching. The acting alone is superb.
A warning: sometimes, okay a lot of the time, I was unable to understand what the characters were saying because of their English accents and speed of speech. Prepare thyself for this. Not everyone drawls.
This is one of the best shows I have seen for a long time. Do take the time to watch it and you will not regret it!
P.S. I wrote my sister back and said, "OMG Broadchurch was SOO GOOD! Thanks for the recommendation!!!", to which she replied, "Erm, I only watched the first episode". *facepalm*