Seitz on Broadchurch: An Intriguing Show That Suffers From Crime-Serial Fatigue


Is it faint praise to say that for long stretches of the new British drama Broadchurch you may forget how many other current shows are telling the same story? It is? Ah, well, the eight-part import (which begins tonight on BBC America) is so good that at certain points I found myself wishing it pursued its goals in a different, less familiar way.


The goal of Broadchurch is to show how a single traumatic death affects the living. The vehicle is the police procedural, wherein cops gather evidence and the town reacts with shock, shame, voyeuristic fascination, and ultimately a kind of wounded numbness. The deceased here is a teenage boy named Danny, who seemed to have committed suicide by leaping off the seawall of his Dorset-area town but was actually a victim of foul play. The show hits all the beats you expect it to hit, and it hits them with intelligence and taste and a fair degree of inventiveness. Murder is always foul, but in small towns it's fouler, because the community is tighter, and the atrocity therefore more exposed and revolting. Murder is a psychic as well as legal event. It hits like a rock dropped in a still pond. The trauma of killing flushes out secrets and soils the façade of cheerful community. And it tests the mettle of a place, showing the victim's family and friends who their friends are, separating the strong from the weak, the righteous from the treacherous.  Read More...


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