10 February 2015

TV: Broadchurch 2.6 (Newsom)

review by Tom Newsom (Twitter | Flickr | Blog)

If it’s funnies you’re after here, then I can’t do much better than the look at Broadchurch on Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe show last week. If you’ve been watching the series, or even if you haven’t, track it down. [view the full episode here]

And so to the sixth episode - we’re three quarters of the way through now, and things are finally sliding into place. It’s going in the right direction but feels a little too late, and we’re a little bit cheated.

The question really is: why isn’t this series working like the last one did?

Okay, there was the newness before, the reduced expectations people had. But I think there’s something missing this time around. The writing, well, it’s not that different a style and we’ve had more time to warm to these characters. It’s hardly the fault of the cast either - they’re all strong and each one lends class to it. This week I think Eve Myles in particular would have enjoyed filming her scenes - smashing plates, acting all sinister, girly, passionate, everything. Each of the lawyers has their own measured, meaty stories too. And Ellie and Alec are getting their own catharsis as the series goes along.

But I think it’s not the amount of story but the way it’s told. Maybe it’s a step too far; the first series twisted our expectations of the investigation, this second series tries to twist everything. As such, we’ve found out about Sandbrook the wrong way round, not getting the clearer picture straight away as you’d normally have in a story like this. And then there’s the trial and the villagers, which straddles being a résumé of the first series and a human study of what happens when you have to give evidence under a trial (the latest, fascinating example is the culmination of all the plots for Andrew Buchan’s Mark Latimer). It’s enough plot for the series, but perhaps not enough plots that many people would be invested in.

And finally, revisiting a lot of the story has the surprises taken out of it - the tension has been defused, the stakes aren’t anywhere near what they were. Sure, this episode has some ‘big’ moments (they’re sold as such anyway), but what were we meant to think after Hardy’s operation? Or after that final shot - we finally know something! - but it doesn’t make us any clearer at all with the full picture, not until next time. And this is after five previous episodes telling us very little indeed.

When you compare both to something like the BBC’s twisting, plot-filled eight-part series The Missing last year, this second series doesn’t feel as pacey or well-constructed. It’s been a bold move to continue it in the (apparent) direction the writer wanted it to go down, without too much reworking old storylines. Perhaps expecting it to match the drama was too hopeful then. But in terms of viewers, this can only really be a partial success.

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

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