One road in, one road out — that’s Broadchurch, a picturesque town on the Dorset coast of Britain. So when 11-year-old Danny Latimer is found murdered on the shore, the evidence indicates that the killer is a local, hiding in plain sight. Danny’s parents and his teenage sister Chloe prepare a list of suspects that includes everyone they know.The murder shocks Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), the local detective and neighbour of the Latimers. Broadchurch is the kind of place where police-work doesn’t often get more complicated than investigating nuisances and misdemeanors. The town newspaper usually only needs to “celebrate the everyday”, covering local fairs and school contests. The mystery at the heart of Broadchurch, an eight-part television serial produced in Britain for ITV, and available on DVD at Whitehorse Public Library, captivated British audiences when it first aired in 2013. Written by Chris Chibnall, with episodes directed by Euros Lyn and James Strong, Broadchurch is a high quality production, with excellent cinematography and an exceptional ensemble cast. Ellie Miller’s style is more Coronation Street than CSI and it leads to tensions with the new detective inspector, Alec Hardy (David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor of Doctor Who). Fashioned in the fine literary tradition of taciturn detectives tormented by painful memories, Hardy is an emotionally remote professional who refuses to call Ellie by her first name. The murder investigation opens a Pandora’s box of secrets and lies in the sunny town, just as any good mystery should. The plumber, the vicar, the postman, the guy who owns the newspaper shop, and a very strange trailer-dwelling lady must all fall under the scrutiny of the detectives — and let’s not forget that most significant of clues, shoe size. Broadchurch is also about a community coping with the sudden dark knowledge of a murderer in their midst, with most of the residents struggling to “be a decent person” as one character says, when the weight of notoriety falls on the town. Danny’s parents, Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan, are central to the appeal of the series, demonstrating heroism as they resist succumbing to vigilantism or despair.The evolving professional relationship of the detectives is both entertaining and touching — David Tennant and Olivia Colman were each nominated for several awards. As the youthful Reverend Paul Coates, Arthur Darvill also stands out in the cast. Pauline Quirke as a prickly newcomer to Broadchurch is excellent, and Vince the Dog (played by Bailey, who is Quirke’s dog) has an unforgettable demeanor in one of the most chilling scenes. “You never really know anyone”, the residents of Broadchurch keep telling each other. Though the murder is solved at the end of season one, enough curiosity remains about many of the characters that the second season of Broadchurch should be welcomed. Until then, you might want to watch the show again to catch all the clues you missed the first time around.
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