Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BBC's Broadchurch vs. Fox's Gracepoint

America's Fox network produced a version of BBC's hugely successful mini-series, Broadchurch.  The series held audiences in the UK spellbound and dominated the nation's media during its run.

Fox network's version is called Gracepoint.  It is set in a mythical town in Washington State.  It's a seacoast town with a limited tourist season, just like Broadchurch in England.

Filmed in British Columbia, Gracepoint has more of the look of a British town than an American one.  The buildings look different from most American towns.

I loved Broadchurch and put up a post raving about it while it ran on BBC America. When Gracepoint was announced I met the prospect with both excitement and dread.  It was adapted for American audiences with a different cast with the exception of the star, David Tennant, who played the lead detective in both versions.

In Broadchurch he was a detective of Scottish origin, complete with the brogue.  In Gracepoint, he was American Emmett Carver, sounding like an American from somewhere north of the southern states. The rest of the cast was different in each version.

Gracepoint had ten episodes, while Broadchurch had only eight.  And yet, as a viewer who had seen and loved Broadchurch, I could find very little difference between the two. Gracepoint had a few "filler" scenes that Broadchurch lacked.  They served to delve a bit deeper into some of the characters, particularly the murder victim's father, played by the wonderful Michael Pena. Everything else was basically the same. The dialogue was almost verbatim, except where cultural differences made that impossible.

By the last episode of Gracepoint, I was ready for it to be over...I knew what was coming and I was not disappointed...

And Then ... They threw in a twist at the end.  The same person confessed to the murder of twelve year old Danny, and was jailed for it, revealing secret pedophilia as the motive.  The murderer's family was shattered with a long road ahead to recovery.

As the citizens of the town of Gracepoint participated in a bonfire memorial on the beach where Danny was found, detective Emmett Carver watched with the wife of the confessed murderer.  She left, unable to take it, saying she didn't belong there...okay, that's close to the original...but then, Carver was on his i-phone and ran over an interview he'd recorded...he realized that the confessed murderer, while causing the death indirectly, did not strike the fatal blow.  The story ended with Carver looking off in the distance as he realized the true identity of the murderer.

Now this was done as the BBC announced an upcoming second season of Broadchurch, which had the teaser of David Tennant, as the British detective, saying "I already solved the murder.  Why am I still in Broadchurch?"

Hmmmmmmm...can we guess what will happen? Well, to a point, but I guarantee there will be obstacles and many surprises along the way.

Whichever version you watch either the BBC's or Fox Network's, this is an engrossing series, which takes you on a journey with surprising results.  Both versions are atmospheric, serious dramas, with the prejudices of small-town life accentuated.

I recommend either one or both. They are both indicative of the quality of production that television can achieve yet frequently does not.

The second season of Broadchurch is scheduled to air beginning in early January on BBC America.

I bet Fox will follow up next year with Gracepoint.

Catch one or the other.  You won't be sorry.

And speaking of BBC America, they recently completed airing a series on their Dramaville slot, called The Game.  It was the story of MI-5 (their version of the CIA) and dealing with Soviet infiltration during the Cold War.  This one was also full of twists and turns with a most surprising end.  It's still available on demand and should be out on video soon for rental.

STARZ is currently running a series entitled The Missing.  The lead actors were recently nominated for several acting awards.  It is also a gripping drama about a couple whose young child was abducted.  It takes place in 2006 when he was taken and also in the present day, when he is still missing. Check it out.

Okay, enough downers...anybody seen a good comedy lately? And no, I don't mean the one about killing the leader of North Korea...

Take care and enjoy the holiday season.

Until next time...


  1. Now I've got to see if I can find reruns on free TV somewhere. It sounds intriguing even though you've told me a lot about it. Although I think I'd like the brogue version.

  2. I'll lend you the dvds I purchased of the Broadchurch first season.