For some reason, Comcast has Broadchurch On Demand a few days earlier than it is supposed to premier August 7 on BBC America.  I’m quite alright with this and wish more episodes were uploaded, as it’s a rather good show.

It’s difficult to explain the show, as simply saying it’s a crime drama in the small shore town of Broadchurch is what the show is but that wouldn’t be doing it justice.  Episode 1 pretty much sets up the scene with Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) as the two central characters.  So far Alec’s life is a mystery, so there’s not much to say other than it was surprising to watch Tennant in another role and not think of him as the Doctor.  There seems to be a season long unraveling of his character, which at this point can probably go anywhere, and I hope the writers explore and come up with something unique.  On the other hand, Ellie is an established member of the community, has a family, and a personal connection to the murder victim (11 year old Danny) and his family (don’t worry, you learn there’s a murder in the first ten minutes, so no spoilers here).  After the first ten minutes there’s about ten to fifteen minutes of pure depression as the victim’s family (the Latimers) is shown (which makes me continue to wonder if the BBC knows how to be happy), and it works because of the acting, which is a good thing since we will likely be following the Latimer family throughout the season.

Ok, here's the cast of characters (most of them) from left to right: Latimers; sorry not quite sure; Alec and Ellie; Millers (Ellie's family); Karen White, Olly Stevens, and Maggie Radcliffe (all journalists). There are some characters I'm not quite sure of, but it is still episode one, so I'm sure that can be cleared up in due time.

Ok, here’s the cast of characters (most of them) from left to right: Latimers; sorry not quite sure; Alec and Ellie; Millers (Ellie’s family); Karen White, Olly Stevens, and Maggie Radcliffe (all journalists).
There are some characters I’m not quite sure of, but it is still episode one, so I’m sure that can be cleared up in due time.

There are a bunch more characters, and it’s even unfair to say “the Latimer family” because it seems the dad, Mark (Andrew Buchan) is hiding something (though I suspect they’ll likely have it be something simple like hooking up with the neighbor’s wife or something).  Judging by the commercials, I’m assuming Reverend Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) will become more prominent, unless that is just a way to bring in viewers since he just came off of Doctor Who, but again, this is the first episode to establish the characters, and I could keep going on and on, but I suspect they’ll become more evenly spread throughout the season, allowing episodes to focus on a specific set of characters.

Ten minutes in, cue the tears, it doesn't get much happier

Ten minutes in, cue the tears, it doesn’t get much happier

Trying to ignore my poor explanation of the characters, I’ll get on with the writing, which is top notch.  I always stress it doesn’t matter how good the actors are if the script isn’t there, and in Broadchurch both elements combine to make something special.  I was surprised to find myself clicking with the Latimers within the first twenty minutes and even kind of feeling bad for Olly Stevens (Jonathan Bailey), a local journalist just trying to make it to a bigger paper and ends up making a mess of the whole situation.  Really, I think I should be kind of annoyed at him, but I like how the show doesn’t force the viewer to see a situation through the eyes of a single character (if they did there’s a good chance I’d see Olly differently).  This lack of perspective is replaced by many perspectives.  As of now it is clear why Alec and Ellie have different views of the same murder case.  Whereas Alec seems to be by the books, Ellie is running more on emotion and personal connection.  It’s difficult to disagree with either of them, because in the end they’re both professionals and neither is written to be over-the-top.

I think that’s what this show really has going for it: the believability of the characters.  I can picture myself living in this town.  It’s all very organic.  Yet, there is also room for artistic creativity, as displayed by some excellent camera work and editing.  There are plenty of slow motion shots with emotional music, various angles of the waves and beach where the body of Danny was found, and an overall feel of despair and mystery.

Yes, this is a heavy show with a potential future filled with a lot of ins and outs, but that should not deter anyone.  The writing, while depressing, is organic and gripping, making the wait for next week somewhat unbearable (especially with those tantalizing “next week” preview clips).  This truly is the crime drama of the year and after one episode I don’t find it unlikely to have it rank right up there with the likes of Sherlock and Downton Abbey in terms of overall quality and entertainment.  Do yourself a favor, do check this show out, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Now please excuse me as I create a bunch of theories about who the murderer(s?) is, and then be proven wrong next week.