One of British television’s greatest achievements was last year’s eight-part miniseries BROADCHURCH, which examined the agony of a small town after a child is found murdered. The series has been transplanted across the pond and reimagined for American audiences as the 10-part GRACEPOINT.
DOCTOR WHO’s David Tennant – who recreates his role from BROADCHURCH – and BREAKING BAD’s Anna Gunn star as the detectives charged with unmasking the killer before the town tears itself apart.
Chris Chibnall, who created and wrote BROADCHURCH, serves as an executive producer on GRACEPOINT and wrote the premiere episode, so he will be establishing the tone of the series. Hopefully he is allowed to keep things as intelligent and emotional as he was on the brilliant original. I’d hate to see that absolutely searing miniseries blunted and dumbed-down for Americans.
Atmosphere was a key to BROADCHURCH and may be the most difficult element for GRACEPOINT to duplicate. As a whodunit, the story is not particularly clever; what is most important is the leaden blanket of sadness that threatens to smother the entire town as the series asks the question, “Why would anyone do this to a child?”
BROADCHURCH provided two of the 21st century’s meatiest dramatic female roles in the victim’s mother and the lady detective, and Jodie Whittaker and Olivia Colman, respectively, more than rose to the challenge; I hope GRACEPOINT is able to translate the characters. There also was an unusual and gritty rivalry between the two cops which I hope is retained, however, the detectives’ back stories are the only subplot I did not notice being teased in the clip.
It is also worth noting that Scotsman Tennant adopts an American accent that makes his already somewhat reedy voice sound even more thin. I would have preferred to hear him speaking naturally – after all, an important aspect of his character is that he’s from out of town; why not way out of town?
Chibnall has said he had an alternate resolution for BROADCHURCH prepared in case his original ending was leaked. That alternate version was never needed but Chibnall said he might use it for GRACEPOINT, just so folks who saw the original won’t feel quite so comfortable watching the reboot when it airs on Fox Thursdays this fall.
If you want to do yourself a big favor, find BROADCHURCH and watch it – but be prepared for an exercise in sadness quite unlike anything seen on American screens.
And, finally, I must ask, on behalf of Tennant fans everywhere: WHAT DID GRACEPOINT’S PRODUCERS DO TO DAVID’S HAIR?