27 January 2015

TV: Broadchurch 2.4

What an extraordinary time for television fans at the moment. Three major broadcasters (the BBC, ITV and Channel 4) have all brought out big-hitting shows within weeks of each other that almost seem designed to ruffle competitors' feathers. Broadchurch is undeniably ITV's flagship show at the moment, and a real encouragement that 'drama lives on ITV', as they keep shovelling down your neck in the (numerous) ad breaks.

Unfortunately, I didn't think this week's episode was as tightly-constructed as some, but that really is out of necessity on Chibnall's part. He needed to kick the Sandbrook case up a gear, and does that in a fine way in this episode. A whole lot of baggage is unearthed, not least Hardy's wife and daughter. I may just be forgetting, but until this series, I had no idea the sour Scot had any close family, so seeing them turn up here was a real surprise.

This episode puts the Broadchurch mystery on the backburner for a little while to fully explore the Sandbrook mystery. Chibnall's snuck in another mystery without us really noticing, and it's only here that the clues really start coming thick and fast. We have four main suspects: Lee, Claire, Cate and Ricky. Of course, Hardy is theoretically also in the frame (as is his wife) but at this point, there is nothing to make me think he's responsible, given the way he's acting. His nightmares could be taken either way - innocent or guilty.

The craft of this series is extraordinary. Everyone was shocked with all the revelations of episode one, expecting them to come only at series' end, but now we're beginning to see the bigger picture, and more than ever this is a programme about DI Alec Hardy. It's his continual battle with the world, as he tries his utmost to do what he believes is right. In that respect, the Joe Miller case is another source of frustration. There really are some great moments for David Tennant and Olivia Colman this week, and I love that the programme's producers still have some enticing material on offer for the pair after twelve episodes.

The direction was a marked improvement on last week, and it's wasn't half bad there. Employing more of Broadchurch's design language (pans, backlit long shots, slow-motion) works a treat and makes this look absolutely sumptuous. Accompanied by Olafur Arnalds fine, fine score, and the always-impressive cast (even the guests are of a high calibre) this is another winning instalment.

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