December 17th, 2013
I’ve seen a TV-series called “Broadchurch“. I urge you not to see it.
Or, rather, do, if you’re bored. Or if you have no better series at hand. However, if you haven’t seen “The Fall“, see that first. Then give the first episode of “Broadchurch” a go and see if you’re pleased.
“Broadchurch” starts off in the sleepy, apostolic, dreamy village of (surprise) Broadchurch, the true geological version of “Cheers“, which means it’s a place where everybody knows your name. And where police bungle incessantly. The series starts off with a boy found dead on a beach. An outsider police, a man whose two constant facial expressions suggest that he’s between states of stroke and severe hangover (see above image), comes in to downsize the female lead, a detective who has just been snubbed of her new job rôle by said new male police, and, to boot, whose friends’ child was murdered. Naturally, the first reaction of this police is to lose it. She cries and convulses to and fro, which may be a logical reaction given that she knows the family whose child is dead, but she not only continues to act irrationally and unprofessionally throughout the series, but actively tries to hinder the male lead police, because of emotions. If this is a sheer act of antifeminism on the behalf of the writers and producers, I do not know, but it is genuinely irritating, and grated me.
Sadly, this series lit the blue touch paper for me. Where professionalism is lacked, that’s one thing, but inserting weirdness where suspense and drama ought to be is just bad. David Lynch gets away with it (some times) but not these people. Granted, I like the jet black backgrounds at times, where photography shows a caravan, the beach or the mist-clad hills in the foreground, but there is not more to it. Like I stated, mystery is a gadget used to success by people like Arthur Conan Doyle and Raymond Chandler, but where there is nothing behind the highly illusory veil, it’s not mystery, it’s an empty coat-hanger, something that should have been stopped by responsible editors, producers or real police.
The soundtrack is also a problem. Ólafur Arnalds, known for his bombastic stuff for The Hunger Games and more solemn touring with Sigur Rós, presents sweeping violins and a lot of reverb for minimalistic percussions. It’s like the late 1990s are back with a razor and a modern synth, not sporting a “hello!” but threatening to rape you unless you really dig those acid jazz albums that cafés played and you undoubtedly stayed away from.
The real mystery, to me, is: how did this series end up getting something like 8.5/10 by people on IMDb? Smoke and mirrors, replacing acting and thrills with vacuum and a fast-moving sign saying “THIS IS VERY GOOD TV, DARE NOT SAY OTHERWISE”? Please. For the love of Bog. See “The Fall” instead, or just see both and, just hopefully, engage your critical thinking and edit the fuck out of decisions like “Oh, watching ‘Broadchurch’ could be a splendid idea”.
The end leaves strings hanging; what really was the reason for the money and the cocaine? Why were some witnesses interviewed so late, and why weren’t interviews more lain into? Some of the main characters had very dodgy or no alibis for the night of the murder, yet why were they abound? Why wasn’t one certain detective’s medical problems found out by his senior officers before his attachment to the case?
Shy from me, reason. Fly away. To quote Morrissey: “Like a dream“.
So, are there any saving graces here?
I like two of the older actors, e.g. David Bradley and Pauline Quirke, but where female characters are stumped in this series, just wait until you see the script that these two had to work with; despite their backgrounds – and do note that both of these older characters are really just the same one – it’s one-dimensional hell. Theirs is true acting, as they actually pulled off a couple of badly written characters that on paper are plain. And drab.
To end this rant, I am still cross with David Tennant. Where stillness and pain can be acted brilliantly without the need of flourish or garish performance, e.g. by Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, Tennant does not; he does not act. He plays. Without much of anything, I’m afraid, much like a languid child when tired of its toys in the middle of a bath where the minding parent has killed itself in another room. See what I did there? I used a bit of strangeness, but it had relevance as it was used as a metaphor; advanced techniques like this – or others, e.g. being somewhat interesting and coherent – aren’t in the blood of the creators of this show.
Speaking of which, “Wire In The Blood” is another great TV show, where detectives prowl and criminals are to be found. And they’re all interesting! And it’s really well-written! So why see “Broadchurch”? Should you, really?
I quote Morrissey again: “Oh no“.