10 reasons why BBC’s crime drama BROADCHURCH is a must-watch TV series

In light of the recent news of the remake of Broadchurch that I mentioned in last week’s Five of the Fifth, here’s why you should watch the original BBC series! I have not got around to seeing it myself but definitely will watch this at some point.

SPECIAL THANKS to Dave W for his wonderful contribution! 

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“This morning the body of an 11 year old child was found on Harbour Cliff beach at Broadchurch, the body was subsequently identified as Daniel Latimer…”

I was going to sit down to watch the series finale of Breaking Bad later tonight… ending maybe one of the greatest runs of a TV show in recent memory. It’s stylistic, dark and dares to boldly go where other shows only dream of. BBC America’s eight-episode series Broadchurch is a drama of a different animal. It’s a rather straight-forward series as compared to the heavily-stylized, highly-acclaimed shows like Mad Men, Dexter and House of Cards. Yet it summons up more emotion and heartbreak than all our cool, hip TV programs put together. I was so taken with the show that I thought I’d give my 10 reasons why you should seek out what I feel is must-watch TV. It’s not a perfect show by any means but I think a rare achievement such as this should not go unnoticed.

1)  The Story

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Broadchurch is a little like a better told version of AMC’s The Killing. (Yes I know the original is from Denmark… but I haven’t seen it yet so I can’t comment!) It too involves a murdered child, a male and female detective and family/town coming to grips with that loss. The difference is Broadchurch is a densely-packed story that doesn’t overstay its welcome, wrapping up nicely after 8 episodes. It doesn’t linger on for three seasons much to the detriment of The Killing. In what is essentially is a ‘who done it’, the well-drawn, believable characters make you want to follow their stories through all the twists and turns of the plot. Keeping the story from dipping into melodrama is no small feat in this kind of drama. Creator Chris Chibnall shows how simplicity and straightforwardness can often be the best method for telling a story.

2)  The Acting

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In a show with pitch perfect acting where characters abound, the two leads, Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Coleman) and Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant) really standout. As the local reigning detective she must put away her allegiance to the people of the town. This is harder than it seems as her boy was best friends with Danny and she knows the family well. If Coleman doesn’t win an Emmy next year for her portrayal it would be a shame. Her acting, especially in the final episode, is breathtaking. Tennant, of Doctor Who fame, shines as a prickly detective brought in from the outside to help solve the case. Unable to close his previous high profile child murder case he brings with him the demons of his past… driving Detective Alec Hardy to the brink of a breakdown. Tennant brings an intensity and determination to the role that it really deserves.

3)  Danny’s Family

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Watching Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker), Mark Latimer (Andrew Buchan) and Chloe Latimer (Charlotte Beaumont) tear each other apart over the murder is heartbreaking. Jodie Whittaker’s touching portraying of Beth who can no longer function in her daily life anymore is particularly painful to watch. In one devastating scene she turns to the mother of another murdered child for consolation only to find out that it doesn’t get any better. Ever.

4)  The Cinematography

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Matt Gray’s beautiful photography is worthy of a feature film. Warm interiors and picturesque exteriors. It does for English seasides what Breaking Bad did for desert landscapes.

5)  The Music

Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds creates beautiful and atmospheric soundscapes that haunt the film. Already being a fan of Arnalds I can’t recommend enough the 6 song soundtrack. Check out the slow burn of the Main Title above.

6)  The portrayal of a small town 

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The characters are spot on with great supporting turns by everybody. The town has more than its share of secrets and its darker past bubbles up to the surface when the murder brings scrutiny on all of its citizens. Everyone is a suspect and yet it never feels like you’re reading an Agatha Christie novel.

7)  The emotional weight of the show.

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Not since The Sweet Hereafter have I seen the dynamics of a small town played out like this. The characters are all flawed and proud at the same time. The collective weight of the tragedy takes a toll on everybody. Nobody comes away unscathed. Neither will you.

8)  By grown-ups for grown-ups

Shows for adults are in short supply. It’s intelligent. It’s moving. It’s not always fun but you are never pandered to. It’s like a good book you can’t put down. It stays with you long after the credits roll.

9)  Sticks the landing

This is exactly the kind of show that network TV would turn into a sappy piece of melodrama. One critic described Broadchurch as a beautiful downer… which it is. He meant that in the highest regard. The fact that they pulled it off with such grace is a minor miracle proving that, IMHO, the best drama is being done on the small screen these days. FOX is planning a US adaptation so I guess we’ll get to see exactly how they would handle it. Lucky for them series creator Chris Chibnall is producing it.

10)   The ending

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It all comes back to the people of the once proud town. It’s a poignant ending to a heartbreaking dramatic series. This is a show that finds beauty in sadness. There’s no getting over it… there’s only moving on. One of the case’s many suspects declares, “Death; once it’s got its claws into you, it never lets go.”

Post by Dave W. (aka Daveackackattack)


Check out the official trailer of the series:


Thoughts on the series? Would love to hear your thoughts!
[Be mindful of any spoiler in your comment though so please give proper warning]

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37 thoughts on “10 reasons why BBC’s crime drama BROADCHURCH is a must-watch TV series

  1. I so agree – watch the original. A remake, even with David Tennant and an American accent does not make sense to me, remakes rarely as good as the originals. Can’t replace the wonderful cast, every single one of them was perfect.

    1. Hi MyrL! I was lamenting about that remake thing last week. Yeah it’s soooo pointless isn’t it? I mean one of the best thing about Tennant is his Scottish burr, but there are a bazillion other reasons the remake’s so ill-advised.

  2. Ted S.

    Nice write up Dave, I’ll have to check it out. Hearing Fox is handling the remake, I don’t have much faith in it, if say the show gets good ratings, they’ll drag it out till it becomes uninteresting. Recently I just watched FX’s remake show of The Bridge, the show kind of got convoluted down the stretch but it kept my attention and I’m looking forward to season 2. I’ve never seen the original Danish version though. You’re right about TV is where the best written shows are today, I love Justified, Walking Dead, Hannibal and recently Breaking Bad. Thanks to Netflix, I was able to catch up on every episodes. BTW, did you watch final episode? I had my issues with it but overall it’s a good finale to one of the best written shows ever put on TV.

    1. Yeah Ted I did see the finale. I thought it was a perfect ending for that show.

      I have this extension for Chrome on my computer, Hola Unblocker, that let’s you watch Netflix for other countries so I can watch The Scandinavian version of The Bridge (Bron/Broen), It’a too cool… check it out.https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hola-unblocker/gkojfkhlekighikafcpjkiklfbnlmeio?hl=en

      Power watching The Walking Dead to get caught up for the new season is up next on my list…

      1. Ted S.

        I liked Breaking Bad’s finale but I wanted it to be longer and not too nicely tied up, I don’t know I think I expected to see more of a downer of an ending. But I like the fact that they didn’t leave any loose ends, can’t say the same for LOST.

        Oh nice, I’ll have to check out that Hola Unblocker.

        Yeah I’m looking forward to the new season of The Walking Dead, I thought last season’s finale was kind of a cop-out. Let’s hope the season opening starts out with a bang.

        I’ll definitely watch Broadchurch soon, too many things to watch already. LOL.

        1. If you do check out that Hola Unblocker three small things… you can’t create a queue. You have to watch whatever right there. I have my computer streaming to my TV so it’s not a problem. Also not all the countries listed have Netflix. You can access certain countries like Canada, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden… Lastly English subtitles aren’t automatically turned or even available for some foreign language movies.

  3. I saw the first episode, but haven’t had time to finish it. Definitely going to once it (hopefully) comes to Netflix. And since I’m a fan of pretty much anything Tennant does, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. 🙂

    1. I’m hoping this would come to Netflix too Billy. Tennant is so great as Dr. Who but I like the more reserved version of him here, plus the Scottish burr! 😀

    1. Hi Sati! Somehow I thought you’ve already been watching this one already. Yeah, there are sooo many great BBC shows, they rarely disappoint!

    2. I’ve been a fan of Olivia Coleman since I saw her in Channel 4’s series.Peep Show.with David Mitchell and Robert Webb. Love her. She was actually more known for her comedy work also appearing on Channel 4’s sketch show The Mitchell & Webb Look. Check out this great story about her being the set of The Iron Lady with Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent from The Graham Norton Show..

  4. Hi, Ruth:

    Wow!

    Well detailed and meticulously detailed critique of a mini series that is much more than the sum of its parts.

    Superb point in that ‘Broadchurch’ takes on an adult topic. Written for adults. By adults. No telegraphed plot twists. No neatly wrapped up and tied with a bow ending. With a satisfying surfeit of shocked parents reacting and sometimes losing it, as parents are oft to do.

    Does it move slowly at times? Yes, but the meat is in those lulls. With more than competent actors letting you glimpse at what’s going on behind their eyes.

    Well done!

    If you have access to ‘Ovation’ channel. The next generation of A&E. Keep your eyes open for a two part drama, ‘Shackleton’, with Kenneth Brannagh. Well detailed account of his polar expedition and his crew’s survival!

    And to answer your question, Ruth. I’m working on it.

    1. Hi Jack! Can’t take the credit of this wonderful post, it’s all Dave’s doing 😀

      As for your last sentence, yay! Btw, I checked out one of your recommendations from a few months ago, The Objective. Wow it’s quite an effective low-budget thriller, very intense and eerie!

  5. This is a super awesome list Dave!! Totally agree with what you have said here
    I am going to link it to my review. This is one of my fav TV Drama of 2013 🙂

    Don’t miss it on Netflix, Ruth 😉

    1. Hi Nov! I knew you’d like this post 😀 Oh yeah, I hope it comes to Netflix soon but even if iTunes have it I don’t mind paying for it, it’s just a matter of finding the time to watch it.

    2. Hi Novroz, Thanks. The whole reason I wrote this is because I was trying to let Ruth know about this little gem and she suggested that I write a post about it. I’ve spent more time watching great TV series this year than I have movies. I’m really curious about how they’re going to do season 2, It’s going to be hard to top that season.

      1. *high five* I also spent most of my viewing time by watching TVseries (mostly Japanese and British) . I have written my review of this series too and Peaky Blinders will be the next best thing.

        Yeah I wonder about that too! Hope it’ll be as good.

        1. I was just reading about Peaky Blinders. What is your take on the use of Nick Cave and The White Stripes in what is a period piece? People really seem to be divided on it on IMDb. I love Nick Cave so I’d probably like it if I get a chance to see it..

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  7. Nice piece Dave. I thoroughly enjoyed this for pretty much all the reasons you stated. I did think it was reasonably obvious who the killer was though. I guessed it after about 3 or 4 episodes. It did handle the reveal pretty well though.

    1. As far as guessing who the killer was I read that another British series that had the same character be the killer in that series so it wasn’t a shock to them who had seen it. I was never quite sure. After seeing enough Hitchcock and DePalma you think you’ve seen everything out then you watch Murder By Death or Scream which just plays with your head. I’m at the point where Iv’e seen so many movies turned on their head that I gave up guessing.

  8. I liked Broadchurch a lot, and was pretty appalled that a US version was being made…heck, you didn’t even need subtitles to watch it! And I agree that David’s American accent isn’t his best…love the full-out Scots burr…but the worst thing about it is that the US version is going to stretch the already thinly stretched plot into ten episodes! I’m shuddering in advance. As much as I love DT, (and I watched the first Nativity film, and all of the Viva Blackpool [both series] just to show my devotion) I really thought that the British version was about two episodes two long. Only so many ways you can look at one killing, after all. I’ve heard rumors that they are adding a few more twists in this one, and they implied that the ending isn’t going to necessarily be the same. Don’t know if that will help get me through ten hours, though. We’ll see.

    Same thing went on with the French series, Les Revenants being remade here as The Returned on ABC, and I found the original much more creepy and fascinating.

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