Thursday, January 25, 2018

Drama On The Jurassic Coast!

I'm not at all sure when I first ran across this compelling bit of television called Broadchurch. Maybe it was just a chance  pop on BBC America or maybe my Anglophile daughter mentioned it to me or maybe it was both at the same time. But I knew it was better than a lot of stuff I tickled my eyeballs with on the boob tube. I was at first put off that it starred David Tennant who is not my favorite Doctor, but I figured out pretty soon that this D.C.I. Hardy is far away from his frenetic turn as the master of the TARDIS. His nickname is "Shitface" and frankly it fits quite well. Also there is the completely alluring character of D.S. Ellie Miller who becomes the center of this story and is almost always the most interesting person in any scene she's in. She offers up a "Plain Jane" of increasing wit and force as the story rolls on. I've just finished watching the series all the way through thanks to my daughters who have introduced their old man to the fancies of Netflix. Don't worry, there are no spoilers in this review, the show's too good for that.

In the first season we meet the quaint town of Broadchurch and all seems sunny and calm but the murder of an eleven year old boy throws the town into a lurch of suspicion and paranoia as new cop Hardy attempts to solve the crime. His second is Miller, whose job he's taken, and together they sort out their own feelings and the clues to slog into a mystery which is a lurid as it is bizarre. People get hurt along the way and mistakes are made. But it seems that this series was filmed in sequence and that the identity of the killer was a mystery from the cast itself. It's a  honking good mystery too with lots of twists and turns and some of the best red herrings on the small screen.

The second season presents us with the results of the first season's investigation as the town folk must cope with a trial which calls into question much of what we saw in the first year. The challenges are mighty and the new additions to the cast, in the form of lawyers of great potency, is pretty dynamic. The pace is somewhat slower as we know most everyone, but we do have a somewhat older murder to solve, one which haunts Hardy and is part of why he came to Broadchurch to begin with. It's great to see Hardy and Miller working together again as they have developed a back and forth which the best teams get after time.

The third season deals with the consequences of the trial and offers up a new mystery altogether -- this one not a murder but a rape. A serial rapist is at long last uncovered and the pain which goes with that search is typical of the angst and grim critique of human nature which the show has from the very first put on display.

And looming over all three seasons is the spectacular Jurassic Coast.  This awesome sight dominates the landscape which itself is a vital part of the storytelling in Broadchurch. The fictional town sits on this site and the creators take every opportunity to feature it. That implacable face of rock says to anyone who is remotely aware that the doings of human beings are momentary and fleeting. It's ironic that a former Doctor Who would be in such a story. The drama which unfolds beneath its crags and along its beaches are just whims in the maw of impossible time. The details of Broadchurch are mysterious and evasive, but the theme never is. We are small and have only a short time to make what we can of a life which outraces us all into the grave.

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  1. Broadchurch featured a former Doctor Who and also a future one - Jodie Whittaker, soon to be the first female Doctor (I don't know who she played in Broadchurch because I never watched it).

    1. The producer/director Chris Chibnall of Broadchurch is the guy taking over Doctor Who so I think that's why Jodie Whitaker (who played the Mother of the victim in the series) is connected to Who now. Several Whovians were in Broadchurch over its run (David Bradley and Arthur Darvill for example).

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