20 January 2015

TV: Broadchurch 2.3

Television is very much moving away from the serial format of olden days. It's increasingly rare to find a mainstream drama comprised of a series of discontinuous episodes these days. Perhaps ironically, the most likely genre to find such a series in is crime/murder. I'm thinking principally of Death in ParadiseEndeavour and Lewis but I'm sure there are others.

It's an easy observation to make that the first series of Broadchurch did the exact opposite and told one big story over eight episodes. But if you look closer, you'll find that Chibnall's doing something much cleverer, and using a mix of both approaches. Although each week the plot was advanced by a series of twists and revelations, every episode dealt with a different character. Indeed, even though Chibnall's writing must be structured to some degree, as is diktat of his medium, what he actually does is tell the story as realistically as possible.

Real life isn't just a series of incidents that occur discretely, nor is it only one long adventure. The truth lies somewhere in between, with many things consuming our present lives, whilst we put things on the backburner given they will naturally take longer. The same is true of Series 2. Last week, we saw the disappearance of Claire. In any other show, this would become the central focus, the mystery to sustain interest for at least a few weeks. But in Broadchurch, this is dealt with in the first quarter of an hour - less, probably. And that's what I mean. Life really is all about the unknown, and that's a philosophy Chibnall exploits to its maximum potential with this show.

Elsewhere, the trial side of things is really hotting up. It's revealed that both Joe Miller and the Latimers' lawyers have a burden which they'd rather was kept private, so you can be sure Jocelyn's mother and Sharon's son will rise in prominence over the next few weeks. Exploring lives beyond the interconnected mess that is the main focus of the series has become something of Chibnall's speciality, and this was shown once again with the Hardy/Lee aspects of this episode. Never assume you have the truth, that's what I've learnt from this. Could we be coming to a huge revelation of Hardy's guilt concerning Sandbrooke?

A switch in directors means Jessica Hobbs takes the reigns this week, and a great job she does too. Whilst lingering less in moments of tension than James Strong, the message of each scene is conveyed just as well. Overall, this is another high quality instalment, and it's shocking that we're already nearly halfway through this series!

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