Thursday, August 8, 2013

Broadchurch: Another BBC Winner

by Pa Rock
Citizen Critic

If there is one thing the Brits know how to do well, it is producing quality television programming.  Anytime I move into a new community and order cable or satellite television service, my first two requirements are PBS and BBC America.  Both have an extensive array of entertaining and intelligent shows. 

British television programs are often so good that they are quickly copied by networks in the United States.   Sanford and Son (known in Great Britain as Steptoe and Son), The Office, Skins, Life on Mars, Queer as Folk, Being Human, and Shameless all got their starts on British television with most making their first appearances as British imports on BBC America.  Several of those odious American reality shows also have British roots.

Occasionally the tide flows the other way, but not often.  I recently saw an episode of Law and Order:  UK and found it to be quite good.

Last night I had the opportunity to see the premier episode of a really engaging police drama on BBC America – one that has already been identified for American production next year through Fox.  The show, Broadchurch, had been hyped over the Internet for the past several days, and the reviews were effusive in their praise of the program.

And while the reviews may have been a bit overboard, the show is awfully good.  Actress Olivia Colman is a bit quirky in her portrayal of Elle, a female police officer who had been promised the job of boss (Detective Inspector) as she left on holiday.  She returned three weeks later only to discover that a man had been appointed to that post and had already been on duty for a week.  The usurping male, Shakespearian actor David Tennant (the unshaven Alec Hardy) had been shipped off to the scenic seaside town after some undisclosed trouble at his last duty station. 

Tennant (Dr. Who #10) is always a powerful screen presence, but he has, at the very least, met his acting equal with Ms. Colman.

The first episode of Broadchurch, involves the murder of an eleven-year-old boy who is discovered dead on the beach.  At first it was thought that he might have jumped or been pushed from the high cliffs overlooking the beach, but it is soon determined that he was strangled – probably by a male with large hands.  DI Alec Hardy is the first policeman on the scene, but he is soon joined by Elle who finds, much to her horror, that the boy is a close friend of her own eleven-year-old son.

There are lots of clues for viewers to process and a good group of possible murderers, but the first episode concludes with neither the motive nor the killer being known.  The story is compelling, however, and very well done – so I will be back next Wednesday evening to see where it will take me.

Thank you, BBC America, for another gem of a television program.  Here’s hoping that Fox doesn’t destroy it.

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