Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Broadchurch - Episode 2

Murder mystery is moving forward, albeit rather slowly

Opening episodes are always tricky to get right. The tone has to be set whilst also delivering enough intrigue to ensure the viewer tunes in for the next episode. On the basis of this second episode, Broadchurch has settled into the groove formed in the opening hour.

More suspects are introduced this week but some have yet to be developed into fully rounded characters. Pauline Quirke gets to say and do suspicious things, a step up from her looking suspicious moments last week. Arthur Darvill gets another post Doctor Who role (following his brief appearance in The Paradise) as the local priest who has to help the town come to terms with the tragedy. Most intriguingly, Steve Connolly (Will Mellor) is a telephone engineer who claims that he receives messages from the dead. This type of character is something I've always liked and I hope that Broadchurch develops his character and his "abilities" further. 

Mellor also achieves the near miraculous feat of drawing more than one emotion out of DI Alec Hardy. Hardy explodes in frustrated anger at Steve's claims which made a change from his default state of sulking broodiness. I don't mind that Hardy isn't a character were meant to warm to (yet?), but the range of the character still feels somewhat narrow.

Steve Connolly (Will Mellor), psychic or fraudster?
As with last week, most of the more lively acting comes from Olivia Colman and Jodie Whittaker. Whittaker becomes frustrated and takes a trip to the supermarket to get out of the house. She walks through the supermarket, aware of the eyes following her around the store. She reaches the cereal aisle and begins to breakdown when she sees COCO POPS, presumably Danny's favourite cereal. So unsubtle (COCO POPS) was the use of this flavour of cereal, that the heartfelt nuance was taking second place in the scene. It was well acted by Whittaker and the overall tone of the moment was well judged, but the execution (COCO POPS) was a bit off.

This episode also featured one glaring piece of shoddy police work. A postman is questioned after newsagent Jack Marshall (David Bradley) recalls seeing an argument between him and Danny Latimer. The postman denies this allegation and is later found to have an alibi for the night of the murder. In this case one person must be lying; yet Hardy and Miller don't attempt to deduce who, unless they've decided that the newsagent innocently imagined the incident. However, the fact that we see the argument on screen as Jack recounts the events suggests that it did take place.

David Bradley as newsagent Jack Marshall
As with last week's episode, my main problem with Broadchurch is the way in which the audience uncovers information in relation to the investigating officers. Danny's skateboard is seen in the cupboard of Pauline Quirke's caravan, but police don't know this yet. Why do the audience need to know this right now? Surely it would be a lot better to reveal this as and when the police discover it. It sucks so much of the intrigue out of the drama and places the viewer one step ahead of the police.

The episode ends with the finger firmly pointed at Danny's dad Mark. The only problem with this rather pointless cliffhanger is that there are still 6 episodes left so it's clearly not going to be him, unless someone else is involved.

Broadchurch is definitely still entertaining and well made television (despite the overuse of sssssslllllloooooowwwww mooootttiiiooonnn) but I don't think it's as revolutionary as many are suggesting.

Broadchurch is on ITV at 9pm on Monday nights.

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