Suggested by Brad Nelson • A seemingly calm and friendly seaside town becomes a town wrapped in secrets when the death of an eleven year old boy sparks an unwanted media frenzy. • Suggest a video
The first three seasons of this are currently streaming on Netflix. I blew through the first two season over the last 5 days. Season one and two deal with the same murders.
This is a “serious” crime/drama series as opposed to those driven by cliches and cheesy writing or just seem aimed toward adult juveniles. This is hard to watch sometimes because the realism has been ramped up. Not in blood-and-guts but by showing the impact of this one murder on the lives of those living in this small seaside community. It’s very well done in this regard.
David Tennant plays the cantankerous police investigator Alec Hardy of definite Scottish decent. He is being somewhat banished from a larger police force because of past failings and is taking over the case in a fictional small seaside town in the county of Dorset. Olivia Colman plays investigator Ellie Miller who has been passed over to head up the investigation, so there is friction right off the bat between Hardy and Miller.
Neither of these cops is particularly unblemished in character or judgment, as you’ll see as this series unfolds. In fact, some of the events in season two seem a little unbelievable but, still, maybe this reflects what is common in the real world.
But season one is obviously much tighter in this regard. Hardy and Miller eventually come up with a working relationship that works for them, sans hugs and first-names. The banter between them (almost always somewhat caustic and laced with impatience) is one of the best parts of the series. Both are believable and their performances first-rate. Most of the rest of the cast is adequate-to-above-average. But clearly Tennant and Colman are the stars and anchor the series.
Did I have any idea who-done-it? No. But this isn’t really an Agatha-Christie-style murder mystery. It unfolds in a logical and methodical fashion. Yes, it seems everyone has a secret that gets uncovered as the investigation unfolds, but complete and total realism would probably be boring.
And the stakes for transgressions are raised because everyone knows most everyone else in this small community. There is a definite sense of place and the pacing is neither too fast nor slow. The interesting part is that few, if any, of these people are particularly sympathetic characters—including the kids. They are all flawed but without the writers going overboard about it. And eventually you will come to respect Hardy’s obsession with solving the murder cases…even if it kills him.
Well, it makes sense that a policeman encountering a murder will seek to solve it, come what may.
I’ll post something in a moment that gives a little more info about this cop.
Spoiler spoilers spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Watching a series such as this is a look at the political and social norms of Europe. Other than some gratuitous lesbianism thrown in near the end of season two (one suspects this was done as general cover), this series is relatively free of overt “messaging.” That alone is somewhat surprising.
The main family themselves — The Latimers — are a fairly traditional couple. The wife is a homemaker (and I think she helps out with the bookkeeping, etc., of the husband’s plumbing business — and the husband works full time outside the home. He’s a manly-man and she’s a feminine woman, to put it bluntly. And those used to butched-up women and girlified men in such series will know what I mean. This used to be what we call a “normal couple.” They have two children, a boy and a girl. It’s their boy who is murdered.
Detective Inspector Ellie Miller, who eventually becomes a likable character in her own way, is a bit of a Marsha Clark mess-up. It will be interesting to see if she even has a job in series three. In the Latimer murder case she: kicked and beat the hell out of suspect in custody; paid her sister to give evidence; during an investigation spent the night in a hotel room with her boss.
The same might be said of Hardy who surely unofficially (perhaps illegally) continued an investigation into a previous set of murders (including housing one of the prime suspects in a sort of unofficial witness protection program) while heading the investigation into the Latimer murder. His efforts, however, are heroic. Despite his caustic personality, he is doggedly pursuing the murder(s) in both cases…even despite a bad ticker (there is the suggestions that his previous unsolved case gave him his bad ticker).
He’s also heroic in an extremely manly sort of way because he took the rap for his wife (also a cop and working the same case previous to the Latimer one) when a crucial piece of evidence was stolen out of her car. Instead of bringing that bit of crucial evidence back to the station for safekeeping, she leaves it in the car while it’s parked in a parking garage as she goes off for a tryst with a lover.
Hardy explains that his wife could have never survived as a police officer with that on her record. (And still would have her back, by the way.) He took the blame and notes that he barely survived himself. His act was chivalrous and self-sacrificing. Despite his abrasive personality, he might be the one person in the entire show who is noble.
The rest of them – even the children — are a bit dodgy, although it’s almost shocking that the priest’s worst secret is that he used to have a problem with alcohol and regularly attends AA meetings. Religion is scoffed at, particularly by Mr. Latimer, but Reverend Coates is generally a sympathetic character. He’s not a pedophile. He’s not a non-believer in a dog collar. He’s young so he’s a bit touchy-feely in his approach but events eventually show that he’s no doormat.
There are an assortment of characters. A couple stand-outs are Pauline Quirke as the thoroughly dislikable Susan Wright and David Bradley as Jack Marshall. One of the redeeming aspects of the show is that they show the media in a bad light. And nearly everyone in the village hates the media.
Yes, hostility to the news media is very common.
Where a series such as this would excel (at least in my book) is if it had some crusty old character who said, “Yeah…you guys all hate the media but you keep buying their damn papers.”
Season 3 (which supposedly takes place three years after season two) is focussing on a rape case. It’s not as compelling as the first two seasons which focussed on the murder of a boy. This is much like sitting in on an indoctrination video. Women never lie about rape. We must have complete and ultimate sympathy. Men are bad. Women are good. Two legs are bad. Four legs are good.
Except…she is indeed lying about something. And the alleged rape victim is not a particularly compelling character. She just sits there looking haggard and shocked. Like I said, this feels less like a series drama than an orientation film about victims of rape.
Still, the first two seasons (apart from a gratuitous lesbian relationship) was mostly free of over political correctness. We’ll see how this goes.
Many of the characters from season one/two are continuing in season 3. Beth Latimer (mother of the murdered boy) intersects this plot line because she is now working as some sort of grief counselor and is working with our rape victim. Mark Latimer (the father) is getting angrier and angrier about the murder of his son and wants to do something about it.
We just learned in episode 3 (I think) why Alec Hardy came back to the small town where Ellie Miller is a cop. Hardy was trying to put his life back together in his own home town but it didn’t work so he just had to get away.
Rev. Paul Coates is still there as the man of God who wants to help but is spurned by this mostly atheistic population of Britain. Most at least slightly disdain his calling and many just say to his face that all this religion stuff is bullshit. I’ll give the show credit for at least some realism. And the best scene so far in season 3 is the reverend explaining that after the murder his church is even emptier than before. He wants to bring comfort and meaning to people’s lives but they are all just too self-absorbed for that. But this is one reverend who is likable, non-creepy, and seems sincere in his faith. Like I said, more or less the show is generally free from PC nonsense.
By all means, watch the first two season of “Broadchurch.” So far season 3 isn’t anything particularly special but I have come to like the two main cop characters.
Just finished 1 & 2 of the second season. This season is really full of estrogen. Except for Alec all the principal characters are female. A little over the top, me thinks. And the wigs. For some reason I thought the Brits had given up on the white wig thing. I can understand the robes and the other formal legal attire, but the wigs that make no pretense of actually fitting the wearer are—well laughable. Even beaver top hats would seem more in place.
That aside, I like Alec and Miller they fit the mold of most good cops. By that I mean we live by the idea that its never personal and just business/job, but in reality its always personal. Its one of the reasons that they eat their guns at such a high rate, almost twice the average. Maybe it is a good thing English cops don’t carry. I could see Alec doing it.
One of the Father Brown stories (probably “The Magistrate’s Mirror”) features a scene in a trial in which the priest notes that, without his white wig, the judge is quite bald. One of the people he’s with jokingly asks if he’s basing his case for the innocence of the accused on the judge’s baldness. Oddly enough, eventually he does exactly that.
One consequence of unarmed cops is seen at the end of Hitchcock’s original version of The Man Who Knew Too Much (the great movie with James Stewart and Doris Day is a remake).
This season is really full of estrogen.
Well, then God (sorry…G-d) help you before viewing season 3, Steve.
And, yes, the entire British court system seems to be run by females. Lots of chicks in this one perhaps balanced by the fact that Alec and Mark are not girly-men. And the priest sort of had balls as well.
I’ll have a thing or two to say about Mark if and when you finish season 3. Let’s just say that he doesn’t find the counseling he needs in all this girly “talk talk talk” stuff. He needed to shoot or kill something….or at least box a few rounds in a ring. But surrounded as he is by estrogen, no on really understands him — understands what a man needs. Mark needed vengeance. And, outside of murder, he needed someone who understood he needed some kind of physical reaction to what happened and not just more blah blah blah let’s discuss your feelings.
His character has quite the journey in season three. And having finished season 3, I found the conclusion of the mystery to be about as big of a letdown as I did to the conclusion of season one/two. Big spoiler alerts for those who haven’t watched seasons one and two, so bail out now before reading further.
It absolutely had me almost laughing out loud when we see who the murderer of Danny is and why he murdered him. This grown man just needed a hug. Talk about England reverting to children. I still can’t get over how stupid that was. And then Mark, the absolute moron that he is, basically does the same thing after the murder with the murderer’s son (although in at least a better way…video games). But, come one. what an idiot. No need to go sneaking around to play video games with a kid like it’s a tryst. Invite the kid over to the house if some grieving and bonding are needed. They were, after all, family friends.
There was a whole bunch of stupid stuff like that, such as when DS (or is it “DI”?) Miller goes all whoop-ass on the man they have in custody for the murder. And this same dumb broad (don’t get me wrong, I like her character) pays her stupid sister for evidence. Gee. How could a jury ever not like that?
Season 3 starts off weak but then they do weave some of the season one/two characters in it. And Alec is just as acerbic as ever. What makes season 3 watchable isn’t the rape mystery. It’s the individual scenes that pop up. And there are some great ones salted throughout season 3’s eight episodes. One in particular was DI Miller brow-beating a subordinate for doing something extremely stupid. No punches pulled. I love it and the stupid broad who was the recipient deserved all that and more. And then Hardy’s smart-ass comment after standing beside her watching all that is precious.
Listen, I don’t want to be cruel or anything but season 3 is a little difficult to watch if only because the rape victim is so damn unattractive, competing with the black defense counsel in season two for that award. Yikes. But they’ve gone out of their way to make Trish (the rape victim) unattractive and haggard. They succeeded remarkably.
Anyway, I will say that the banter between Hardy and Miller continues in season 3 on par with seasons one and two. They still wrote that well.
So, Steve, if you do plan to carry over and watch season 3, then just put on your pink vagina hat and go for it. What have you got to lose but your lunch?
Just finished season 2. The last 2 episodes are pretty good, although exiling Joe fits the narrative, I remain unconvinced that he murdered the boy. I do believe he is covering for someone, perhaps the older brother.
Hardy and Miller are good cops, even in England where carrying a gun is a no-no. The trial was interesting. English criminal courts seem to be much more adversarial than ours. The 19th century robes and wigs are a bit of formality that you don’t expect, but fit in merry old.
On the whole I give the first two seasons an A for acting, b+ for plotting. From what Brad says and my first look at season 3 I think they jumped the shark and are just trying to milk out one more season.
I remain unconvinced that he murdered the boy. I do believe he is covering for someone, perhaps the older brother.
An interesting theory. But it’s strange murder nonetheless.
Season 3 starts out rough but does get a little better because it’s not all focused on the rape. You get more of the aftermath of the Latimer family. The schtick between Hardy and Miller is as good as ever. (Shouldn’t she have been fired three times over for her misconduct in seasons one and two?) Just be sure to wear your vagina hat, light up a Virginia Slims, and have Oprah’s book-of-the-month on the table next to your armchair and you’ll be prepared for the estrogen rush.
Just finished season 3. With the exception of the Vicker and Alec every man in Broadchurch is a girlie-man. It a wonder the SAS has any male recruits if this is an example of English manhood. The Anglo-Saxon-Viking blood lines have winnowed out into a bunch of babies that I kept wishing really would find enough testosterone to kill themselves.
Maybe Joe really did kill Danny but he never really admitted it, and Mark should have found a better way to kill himself than floating in the ocean. These are some of the most despicable men I have ever seen in any TV series.
However, Miller and Hardy are good characters and good cops. This should be the last of this. I don’t see how its possible to follow up with another year.
On the whole I enjoyed it. Thanks Brad for pointing me to it.
Can’t disagree with any of that, Steve. Lest we forget, the original murder (the basis of seasons one and two) was because a man needed a hug.
Some ideas for Season 4: Mark kills Joe. But just before Joe dies (it’s a slowish death by poison…appropriate since this is usually a woman’s method), Joe admits he was covering for his son. Joe found him having a gay relationship with Danny in that beach house. They were into some decidedly non-safe-sex asphyxiation practices and things went wrong.
Beth burns out as a counselor. The pivotal moment comes when she screams at one of her clients, “If you don’t want to get raped than don’t drink yourself to near unconsciousness and hang around in dark alleys.” This puts her decidedly over-the-shark with the Zeitgeist of her “women are never to be shamed or blamed” bosses.
Hardy and Miller, of course, are trying to solve the “Who killed Joe?” murder case. Meanwhile, Maggie Radcliffe updates her book co-written with Mark, incorporating the new events (such as the murder of Joe) and the book takes off like hotcakes. Mark, his plumbing business having collapsed due to leaving it too long in the hands of his idiot partner (who is selling drugs on the side to make ends meet), finds he must play the part and go on tour with Maggie to promote the book (book signings, TV appearances, etc.). He’s asked an awful lot of uncomfortable questions along the way which only adds to the appeal of the book.
Of course, Mark remains the chief suspect but has a seemingly airtight alibi: He was in the drunk tank, having gotten into a fight that night in the village. It seems he somehow talked Ellie into letting him out for a while for some reason. Now Ellie is in a pickle and has to hide this fact from Hardy.
At the end of season 3, it’s apparent that Reverend Paul Coates is leaving the small town. But he’s not out of the story arc quite yet. Someone is making death threats. Coates can’t remember anyone who would want to kill him, although he’s spent much time with unsavory characters in prison that he has tried to counsel. Could it be one of them, perhaps recently released? And there is a suggestion that Susan Wright is still alive and well and somehow connected to these threats…or at least she knows about them.
Oh…and Hardy’s daughter now identifies as a man. This, of course, drives Hardy to distraction.
Good point about women being the most likely to poison people. Some of the greatest multiple murderers in history are women — from Marie de Brinvilliers to Mary Ann Cotton (“Mary Ann Cotton/She’s dead and she’s rotten/She lies in the grave/With her eyes wide oppen”) to Jane Toppan.
I just finished season 1. Not bad considering that English TV tends to be very dry. It is a good who-done-it. Alec is what seems to be a very typical, in TV and movies, brooding cop. I suspect some variation of PTSD. G-d knows I have seen enough real PTSD among friends who are LEO. Although, Alec does not resort to booze the same as in the real world. I will start season two soon.
Yes, Alec has brooding-cop down pat. Don’t know about PTSD. Maybe the fact his wife cheated on him has something to do with it. But through four episodes of season three, there’s really no clue as to what makes him tick.
I like his gruff attitude, his no-nonsense approach, his complete lack of touchy-feely baloney.
And then we come to episode three where he states, “I’m ashamed to be a man.” This third series is completely about “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Men are are scum. Women, no matter how reckless their own behavior, are 100% victims deserving complete sympathy and acquiescence.
It’s getting a bit thick in episode four where I’m having bouts of laughter at moments that were not meant to be funny. Season 3 is 100% for the estrogen set. I’ll stay with it. There are some side issues that still make this interesting. Can’t say much more until you’re through season 2.
I suppose if he encountered a vicious enough rape case he might feel that way, at least for a while. If that’s the case, he should get over it. Solving the case would no doubt help. Only the criminal(s) committed the crime, not the whole of manhood.
I don’t mind a cop with a bulldog’s attitude for getting the bad guys. And both cases (the murder of season one/two and the rape of season three) are nasty cases. Go Alex. Woo hoo! He is a bulldog indeed, and his female partner is not particularly touchy-feely as well.
Until they both hit the third season where I’ve about overdosed from their serial sympathy and painted-on looks of concern. They’re way over the top in the “I am woman, here me roar” stuff in this third season. I prefer drama, not training-film-style propaganda.
But, yes, men commit about 75% of cases of violent crimes, at least according to quickly-Googled statistics. If you dig any deeper than that you’ll get something like blacks (in America), who are 13% of the population, commit 52 percent of homicides. But you’re not supposed to look further than “Men are bad.” And don’t look too closely at terror statistic to find out which type of men are doing this. You will find very few white Norwegian Christians committing such acts.
But in this case we can proudly exclaim from our estrogen heights that “Four legs are good, two legs are bad.” Women are blameless victims. Men are evil.
Like I said, the fact that they haven’t made this series’ minister a pedophile or Church-of-England de facto atheist is remarkable. Anytime British (or any) drama these days veers from the predictable slop of political correctness, it is something to admire and appreciate.
But back to reality in season three.
you’ll get something like blacks (in America), who are 13% of the population, commit 52 percent of homicides. But you’re not supposed to look further than “Men are bad.”
After moving to the USA from Asia, everything here was pretty new to my wife. For months she would watch the local evening news. Of course, part of the newscast was dedicated to the daily drumbeat of local crime. The pictures of the perpetrators would be shown and, the vast majority of the time, they would be black or Latino. I will never forget it when having been here for about a year, my wife turned to me after one such broadcast and said something to the effect of “What is going on? I seems like the vast majority of violent crime here is committed by blacks and Latinos.”
All I could do was say “Welcome to America”, and confirm that these two groups committed violent crimes on a scale much larger than one would expect given their percentages of the whole population.
Not being raised in America, she was free to observe reality instead of ideology.
That’s a good way of putting it.
Some observations on seasons two and three that contain mild spoilers, at best. Wondering what Steve thinks about a couple of these.
+ The “dream team” prosecuting attorney brought out of retirement in season two does not impress me. Perhaps as morally dubious as the defense council was, I thought she did a better job.
+ Season three is so man-hatingly woman-centric that it will be difficult for many of you here to watch. One suspect (a man) beats the hell out of another suspect (another man) because the first man is (we think at the time) trying to protect the honor of the harmed lady. But the idiot cop, Miller, says something like “Even when a woman is raped the men have to belittle it with their own show of force.” She has absolutely no sympathy for a man who was brutally beaten. Again, at least this is an honest portrayal of current attitudes. Men are expendable. Women are superior and we are to move heaven and earth if even one of them ever has a bad feeling.
+ Slight spoiler here for season three but nothing specific. When they do catch the rapist (thank goodness they don’t extend this story into another season), the rapist’s rationale is “Well, it’s just sex, innit it?” And it’s hard to argue with him. This is what we’ve all been taught. A slightly bigger spoiler here as well but nothing fatal: Trish has sex in the morning on the day of her rape with her best friend’s husband. It blows apart their friendship. There are a couple wonderfully ugly scenes between the two former friends as they deal with this. So on the one hand we’re handed this idea that “It’s just sex. If it feels good, do it.” And some of the characters in this series nod approvingly. On the other hand, if there are any consequences they revert to “Don’t judge me.” Taking all this baloney to its logical conclusion you get the rapist at the end saying “Well, it’s just sex, innit it?” Detectives Hardy and Miller may snarl their most disapproving snarl at him but to a large extent, this is what their weird and conflicting beliefs have wrought. Don’t get me wrong. It was still wrong to rape someone. But I thought the rapist at least had the clearest moral view. After all, if sex has been reduced to the importance of a handshake, what difference does the rapist’s sex make? After all, it’s just sex and she was going to have some anyway. That, more or less, is the rapist’s rationale.
And it’s difficult to tell whether or not the writers are lampooning some of Britain’s loony moral logic or if we’re all just supposed to snarl at any woman (or man) who would “judge” someone, or who would not snarl at any man on queue like trained relativist rabbits. I hope Steve watches this just so I can get another opinion on all this.
Oh, another odd thing (and this really isn’t a spoiler of any importance), in season three some of the kids (including Ellie’s kid) have pornography on their phones and this is treated as a near crime by the parents and school authorities. If I’m a kid and I’m seeing all this sex on TV, cable, advertisements, movies, etc., and am inundated by messages of “Nothing at all wrong with sex, anytime, anywhere,” and am also inundated by the extreme relativism of “gender identity” where whatever you personally believe are the rules of the game regarding sex, as a teenager I would honestly wonder why anyone at all would be upset with a few titties on my phone.
The mixed messages of our culture are all inside this season three. Whether the writers intended this to be an overt portrayal of this fact I’m not sure of.
Well Brad, Sandy and I have watched season 1 and 2, and we will watch season 3 next, so I will add a bit to your review. I had more sympathy for DS Miller when she kicked the crap out of the murderer. Her home life seemed to be the only thing she had that was stable, (except her really creepy boy), and when she fond out who the murderer was, she lost it, and since she has the chance to do what Mark would like to do, she takes that chance.
I tell LEO friends I do not see how they can hold back when taking down this human scum they deal with on a regular basis. I recall an incidence in Phoenix where the left was so up set because the a group of 13 cops shot a man 38 times as he charged them with a large knife. My question at the time was who missed, based on the 2 shots center mass and one to the head. But what I do always ask is how do you stop? If I thought my life or someone else’s life were in jeopardy, I am afraid my 13 round clip would be emptied into that person, I hope I could stop there and not reload. So I have sympathy for her in that moment.
I was most disappointed with the priest’s fear of being outed for visiting the murderer. I mean really, is that not what he is supposed to do? Help to save his eternal soul, even though he should give up the rest of his natural life for his crime. He does make it clear in the end, when he finally walks out on this asshat, but that part did bother me.
We did really enjoy the show and I see what you mean about season 3 episode 1, I think I can feel my boobs growing just watching it.
I had more sympathy for DS Miller when she kicked the crap out of the murderer.
That’s a great scene, isn’t it. Hardy warns her not to lay a hand on him but she just loses it.
Yeah, Miller’s boy is a bit creepy. That continues into season three as well where he gets into some minor trouble.
I had the same comment to my brother when watching this. There’s no way I could be a law enforcement officer because I would want to kick the shit out of this scum.
Good point about the priest’s fear. I think, Pat, the series went a little PC there and just assumed the small town yokels would be upset. A while back a guy high on drugs killed some stop-and-rob attendant with a shotgun. My brother is (or was at the time) on call as a chaplain for the police and/or fire. He visited the guy in the cell a number of times.
Me, I’m ambivalent about such things. I think if any extra effort should be made it is to comfort the victims of crime. But whatever. I suppose there is a soul to be saved.
LOL. Feel your boobs growing. Good lord, you won’t believe the amount of estrogen in the rest of season 3. But glad I could help turn you and Sandy onto something you could enjoy. It’s not a series full of nudity or gratuitous foul language, and the cinematography is always very pleasant. And if I was a cop, I’d be one with that sort of chronic foul disposition that Hardy has. I can relate to this guy.
Thanks for your thoughts on the subject, Pat.
What’s needed for a cop is to be able to confront the monsters without becoming one yourself. It’s a little like James Madison’s famous “if men were angels” discourse. It can be very difficult, which no doubt is one reason why cops get plenty of training.
I am afraid for me Timothy, it would require brainwashing, more than training. I have seen far too many Horror documentaries where the monster, or bad guy, gets up and attacks again after the would be victims lay down their arms.
No doubt about the focus of effort on the priest’s part, (it should firstly be for the victims), I just think he signed up to do the work of saving souls, and Joe was most definitely not repentant after his plea. And by the way, after watching season 3 episode 1, I think I need a hug, LOL.
I like that priest, Pat. And he was not a girly-man priest. At some point he says to the unrepentant murderer, “See you later.” It’s hard to believe a priest these days judging someone instead of non-stop touchy feely. That’s why I like the guy. He made the effort, and then some, but even the Bible says,
And in whatsoever place ye shall enter, and they receive you not, in my name ye shall leave a cursing instead of a blessing, by casting off the dust of your feet against them as a testimony, and cleansing your feet by the wayside.
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