British crime drama Broadchurch premiered on BBC America last night, so I realize that now pretty much everyone is writing posts that say "Yay Broadchurch! It was great!" But I feel compelled to add my voice to the chorus - yay! It was great! While I do like traditional murder-of-the-week crime shows, I am also enjoying this current (mainly European, it seems) trend of slower shows that trace one investigation over the course of a season or more. (I even liked season two of the U.S. version of The Killing. I know, I know.) When done correctly, these slower investigations mean that the detectives we follow from case to case aren't the only real characters. The people in the victim's life, who in most procedurals are brief guest stars, get to be multidimensional characters in their own right - if the show is written correctly, at least, and so far it looks like Broadchurch is. The victim's family, the newsagent, and the local reporters are already interesting, and I look forward to seeing how it develops everyone further.
Broadchurch is set up with some familiar elements - the victim's slightly shady parent, a friend with secrets, small town intrigue - but that's by no means a bad thing. The conventions of the genre exist for a reason, and there's space to do almost anything within that framework. Among the cast, David Tennant's getting most of the attention, of course, but others shine too and the variety of interesting female characters are worth some focus as well: Olivia Colman as an ambitious detective who also happens to be a mother, Jodie Whittaker and Charlotte Beaumont as the victim's mother and sister, Carolyn Pickles as the local newspaper editor with unflinching standards, Vicky McClure as a somewhat mysterious and morally questionable young ambitious reporter. Now that I think about it, in the first episode, at least, more time was given to the women's career ambitions than to the men's, and it will be interesting to see how that progresses.
I'm not going to promise to write about Broadchurch every week, because inevitably something would happen to prevent that, but I'll try to check back in next week, at least, to see if the second episode lived up to the hopes I have after watching the first. If you missed it, it looks like BBC America is rerunning the premiere on Friday at 11pm. And at the moment, you can watch the premiere for free online, though I'm not sure how long that will last.