WHEN | WHERE Premieres Wednesday night at 10 on BBC America
WHY TO WATCH A whodunit where the fallout matters more than the perp.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT A murder. A family. A town. "We'll be looking at all these connections," announces David Tennant, as newly arrived police detective boss Alec Hardy, to the fictional English Channel town of Broadchurch. Tennant, once witty Doctor Who No. 10, now embodies a disheveled wreck of a man fleeing to this quaint hamlet just as the body of an 11-year-old boy is found on the beach below the cliffs. Hardy's shoulda-been-my-job new partner, Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), herself mom to an 11-year-old, informs the take-charge interloper that Broadchurch is a place where "we don't have these problems."
But death, betrayal, suspicion and soul-deep wounds know no boundaries. That's what citizens learn as Hardy and Miller start unearthing discomfiting clues. Even more crucially encountered: "public perception," which equally haunts Hardy, known for a botched case elsewhere, and much of Broadchurch. The spotlight of police "interest" variously afflicts the victim's closed-mouthed father, the town's aged news agent and that odd odd-jobs woman living in a seaside trailer.
Or could it be the furtive young vicar? The ambitious local reporter? Maybe that "psychic" guy? Seems everyone's got a secret. Think grandma knows more than she's telling?
MY SAY This show's nasty that way. It mesmerized Britain earlier this year -- and stop right now, do not go Googling. No Wikipedia, either. (But be warned -- Fox plans to Americanize this show next year, importing creator Chris Chibnall.)
Best to just fall into the "Broadchurch" thrall, crafted through canny filmmaking -- telling close-ups, moody bits of slow-
motion or montage and a hypnotically measured pace, a drip, drip, drip of informative details and red herrings. The music, too, is all languid propulsion, chugging under those montages like an engine. Without it, "Broadchurch" might feel dawdly and digressive in divulging all its evidence.
Until the killer is revealed to be -- oh, c'mon, really? Good thing the show's climax is actually its entire final hour (of eight weekly installments). The complex impact of the crime -- and of its investigation, news coverage and town reaction -- is the real story here, laid out in the decidedly ordinary faces and raw silent spaces that British drama delivers so well.
BOTTOM LINE There's more to this than meets the eye.