Broadchurch: Series 1 Episode 1 Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
With The Killing’s epic finale a mere memory, and the latest series of Silent Witness long behind us, Britain is craving a new high quality crime series, and I think we have found it in ITV’s Broadchurch.
Boasting an impressive stellar cast, the show bases itself in the unconventional setting of a twee, picturesque English seaside town. With its long pans, and dramatic close ups, the backdrop to the grisly murder of Danny Latimer is gorgeous. The contrast between the killing and its surroundings is stark and unnerving, a small village like Broadchurch shouldn’t be the centre of an investigation such as the one depicted here.
Olivia Colman heads up our troupe as DS Ellie Miller, a woman happy with her life, eagerly anticipating an upcoming job promotion. When the latter opportunity is snatched from her by harsh out-of-towner DI Alec Hardy – played superbly by David Tennant, heavily emphasising his Scottish accent – Ellie starts off her relationship with the detective inspector on bad terms. She is surprised to see he returns these feelings, frequently chiding her for even the most minute friendly gestures. It’s your stereotypical good cop/bad cop alliance but it seems to work. Colman’s homely niceness is met by the directness of Tennant; a relationship I think will develop greatly as the series progresses. The idea of Miller being very close-to-home and having connections to the family of the deceased is a smart one, and already we can see how this has negatively affected her career. Take the scenes in which Ellie and Alec discover Danny’s body, and the irksome intervention of Miller’s nephew, Oliver (played by Jonathan Bailey), Ellie is plagued by her relationship with the town, and that is the sole reason why Alec beats her to the promotion.
Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan take the harrowing roles of Beth and Mark Latimer, parents to the murdered child. Both of them, Whittaker especially, superbly portray the grief and agony of parents bereaved. It’s impossible not to empathize with the pair because the heartache is simply overwhelming.
Supporting characters such as David Bradley as Jack, the sullen-faced corner shopkeeper, and Pauline Quirke, the shifty dog-walker that materializes in different places, all look suspicious and Chris Chibnall, the writer, has set everyone up as a killer.
Episode One is of course an introduction to the world of Broadchurch, setting up the slaying of the boy, the background in which he was murdered, the characters that inhabit this background, and who might have committed the act. Broadchurch is very much its own show, taking nothing from other country-based murder shows such as Midsomer Murders. The backdrop makes it unique, and as Tennant says: “It’s about the way something reverberates around a small community, and the sort of behavior the incident incites”.
Like any good whodunit, we are left asking multiple questions; why did Ellie’s son erase all electronic messages from his deceased friend; what lurks in Hardy’s murky past that is seldom spoken of; where was Mark Latimer at the time of his son’s murder; where is Danny’s skateboard seen in the CCTV footage. All these questions will be answered at some point, and the suspense is already beginning to kick in. Chris Chibnall has ticked every box that makes a good murder mystery drama. I predict big things for Broadchurch – very big things.