For the last eight weeks, UK television viewers have been following the investigation into the murder of the young Danny Latimer, found dead one morning on the beach at Broadchurch. As the crime is investigated by DI Alec Hardy, a officer brought in from outside the area, and DS Ellie Miller, a local officer passed over for promotion whose son was best friends with Danny.
As suspicion passes from person to person, starting with Danny’s father, secrets are inevitably revealed until the killer stands revealed. But with such a close-knit community, the scars from the murder go very deep indeed…
Well, the final episode got uniform coverage in the national press in the UK, garnering five star reviews everywhere, so inevitably, In Search Of The Classic Mystery Novel jumps on the bandwagon – with one eye aimed primarily on the mystery, what did I think of it?
Before we get to that – The Daily Telegraph, shame on you, for not only revealing the murderer in its article but presenting a massive cast photo with a ring around the murderer’s face, so you simply couldn’t ignore it. It was a bit of luck that I managed to watch the last episode live, otherwise “Angry From Liverpool” would have been dashing off a very grumpy letter. OK, I’d guessed the killer correctly, but it was a guess…
First off, you might be expecting comparisons to The Killing – this is supposed to be a UK equivalent. But I haven’t seen The Killing yet (I know, I know) so nothing doing there. I’m going to discuss it in its own right.
It was an outstanding, engrossing piece of television. David Tennant as Hardy and Olivia Colman as Ellie were outstanding, and the rest of the cast (too many to list here) provided strong performances throughout. Special mention to David Bradley – outstanding as ever. The plotting was well-paced, in particular the final episode, choosing to pace the reveal exceeding well, rather than leaving everything to the last minute. One could argue that perhaps the town had one too many secrets, but credit to Chris Chibnall, the show’s creator, for not giving everyone something to hide. Credit too for spending plenty of time away from the actual mystery plot to look at the effect of the crime on the community, in particular the Latimer family.
Was it a well-clued mystery? Of course not. If it was, people would have worked things out too early. There was something tangible in episode seven that did point in the direction of the killer, and also a line of dialogue that heavily (possibly too heavily) foreshadowed the conclusion. But the show was never designed as a fairly-clued whodunit, so there’s no point criticising it for that. There’s no point criticising it at all.
If you want a play-along mystery, then watch Endeavour instead. But if you didn’t check out Broadchurch, ignore the press discussion and watch it on DVD or wait for it to come to your local TV station. It’s a powerful piece of drama that’s well worth the effort. Highly recommended. Roll on series two (and there is going to be one!)