13 January 2015

TV: Broadchurch 2.2 (Newsom)

review by Tom Newsom (Twitter | Flickr | Blog)

It’s something you don’t realise that much until it stops. It’s there at every advert break in the first series, built into Broadchurch’s DNA: this show is built on reveals. The writer, Chris Chibnall, has said before that it wasn’t a ‘whodunnit’, but that that genre helped him portray a small community and explore its secrets.

In this episode, Jocelyn, the new prosecuting lawyer (Charlotte Rampling, on the side of the righteous so far), says that the community don’t have any secrets left to reveal. Everyone looks shifty at that point, but after the first series, it’s easy to agree with her. Is there more to know about the characters? And if not, then is it going to be surprising enough?

There were still a couple of enjoyably big moments in this episode, but only a couple. Compared with the first episode, this only made baby steps in the plot, but they were steps in the right directions. The burning question of the Sandbrook stalker was addressed, if not fully answered, and we got a good idea of how the trial will play out with the defence lawyer Sharon Bishop (Marianne Jean-Baptiste, playing a right cow at the moment) aggressively questioning the regular cast. The courtroom scenes played emotionally and pitched at an everyman level (“can she ask that?”) rather than pure standard legal drama, though hardly dumbing down. When the vital confession from the last series was thrown out (by Meera Syal, having a good time playing the Judge), everything from the first series feels like it’s fair game again.

But even these stand-out moments didn’t come out of the blue. Jocelyn warned earlier that the defence team might be going to use the odd police tactics exhibited at the end of last series against them (plea: but it made very good telly). The only left-field moment came at the end, when Sandbrook suspect Lee met his ex-wife Claire again - but to me, the piling up of drama for the cliffhanger (back to the house! an escape! the baby!) felt a bit too contrived.

All this shows that we’re in for the long haul - it is episode two in an eight episode series after all. I think your enthusiasm this week for Broadchurch might relate to your patience - and how watchable you think David Tennant is as Alec Hardy. He’s as prominent in this episode as ever, along with Olivia Colman as Ellie, only both have less to go on. And the dour tone still hangs over the whole thing, not helped by Alec’s surly mood and Ellie’s confusion with life, the humour toned black. It might not be as gripping as last week’s episode, but it hasn’t lost all of its mystery.

many thanks to
Tom Newsom (Twitter | Flickr | Blog)

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