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Saturday, 28 February 2015

Broadchurch Series 2.

Series 2.

I was pretty sceptical of a second series of Broadchurch, and for good reason, I'd say. The original series was a self-contained piece of storytelling that wasn't ever truly meant to have a continuation. It stood alone, and as the writers have pointed out when talking about their work on the second series, the basic premise of Broadchurch revolves around the events of the story being unusual, a once-in-a-generation tragedy that would usually be unheard of in a small town. It isn't exactly fertile ground for a continuation.

Broadchurch's second series has two plot lines running next to each other: The first being the trial of Joe Miller, husband of protagonist Ellie and the murderer from the first series; and the second being Alec's renewed investigation into the Gillespie murders, which had been mentioned in the first series as being a major failure in Alec's past. As the trial heats up, with two opposing lawyers with fraught history with each other butting heads, Alec and Ellie discover that their original assumptions about the Gillespie murders may have been entirely incorrect.

So, how does it measure up to the previous series?

Well, it has seventy percent more evil fluttering police lines, that's for sure.

Not all that well, unfortunately. It's still very good television: The trial is tense, with a genuine sense throughout that this could all turn out terribly for the protagonists; and the murder plotline has much of the suspense, mystery and sinister turns that the first series had. It's very good television, but it in no way reaches the standard set by its predecessor, which was nothing short of a national phenomenon for the entire time that it was airing, with an entire country so hooked on it that giving away a plot detail was practically grounds for the death sentence.

In a way, it feels like what it is: A sequel that was never planned, which is trying to capitalise on anything that could be considered a sequel hook in order to keep a sense of continuity. But I was never all that interested in the Gillespie murders, the series never made much suggestion that there was any mystery still left to solve there - instead, they were an example of Alec's failings as a person and an officer, that he knew who had did it but had allowed critical evidence to be lost. For it to suddenly become a mystery seemed forced, even if it did create an interesting plotline.

Similarly, while the trial storyline interested me more, I didn't finish the first Broadchurch thinking 'I really need to know what happens at Joe's trial.' The series didn't end with any suggestion that it was a pressing concern - if anything, the quiet implication was that from the point where Joe was arrested, everything would be fairly straightforward.

Hands up if you didn't realise Lee Ashworth is Edwin Jarvis.

Yet, I did enjoy both plotlines, and they were well-handled. The introduction of Claire Ripley as a potential witness to her husband Lee's guilt, only to later become a suspect herself, was a nice touch, allowing the story to flow smoothly from 'we need to prove this man's guilt' to 'mystery'. Similarly, the trial plotline got off to a strong start when events from the end of the last series, such as Ellie attacking Joe while he was in custody, were used to build suspense by having Joe's confession thrown out.

It's from that point that the trial storyline starts to go downhill, with the defence's case seeming to mostly consist of wild conjecture, while the murder storyline starts to pick up momentum (but never really manages to sustain my interest), but both storylines came together for a very dramatic finale.

Once again, the acting is very strong - David Tennant and Olivia Colman put on excellent performances, with a very engaging supporting cast. Eve Myles, James D'Arcy, Meera Syal and Charlotte Rampling, among others, are added to the cast, and they all put in great performances. From an acting standpoint, this series is as flawless as the first. 

Broadchurch's collection of Doctor Who alumni is growing.

(The same cannot be said for Broadchurch's American adaptation, Gracepoint.) 

Similarly, the music was very good, the cinematography lovely - in all technical aspects, Broadchurch excels, which is nice, but doesn't make up for how wholly unnecessary this entire series felt, or how lacklustre it often seemed. At times, it seemed like the writers didn't really want to write this sequel, and I'd hardly blame them.

Broadchurch has been renewed for a third series, and while I probably should be a bit excited, I find myself more alarmed than anything. Like the first Broadchurch, the second series doesn't leave itself open for a third series - it ends with all of its loose ends very firmly tied off. I didn't think there should be a second series, and while I did have fun with it, I still think that it was a mistake. A third series, though, boggles the mind, and not in a good way.

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