‘Broadchurch’ is now behind us, once and for all. Following the phenomenon of Series 1, the disappointment of Series 2 and the extremely satisfying denouement to Series 3, will it go down in history as one of the great primetime telly classics, or will the dust settle and leave us realising that it was okay for a Monday night hour or eight, nothing more or less?
Well, one of its great strengths was the portrait of a community, deconstructed by a crime at its centre. Writer Chris Chibnall compassionately but minutely drew out the secrets in the community, and the pain of them being laid bare. Here’s what I loved, and what I wasn’t so keen on - let me know your thoughts ( @FrostReporter on Twitter).
Performances across the board
While Julie Hesmondhalgh will no doubt be scooping up the gongs come awards season for her stunningly raw portrayal of a woman brought down by rape, I want to put in my own word for Sarah Parish. In every scene, she was thoroughly heartbreaking, never more so than when her humiliation at the hands of her husband and best friend was ill-disguised as contempt. This scene alone was a masterclass in understatement.
Rare flashes of humour
Despite the depressing nature of the crime, this series contained more humour than the previous two. When factory manager Leo told the police he “totally had authority” to make decisions, Hardy put him in his place - “If you’ve totally got authority, totally comply with our request, or I’ll totally come back with a warrant.” Elsewhere, Miller had a lunch break chat with Beth Latimer, sharing childhood memories of life before the internet. “I found my mum’s vibrator,” remembered Miller. “I asked her what it was, she said it was a whisk.” Some much-needed light relief in between all the misery of the crime and the ensuing investigation.
Although we’re used to it now after two series, that stunning backdrop will never get old. The Dorset Tourist Board must be very happy. Hope they’re ready for the summer season.
The coppers’ anger
We didn’t get so much of this in previous series. David Tennant got more and more Scottish, as he went from being ashamed to be a man in the light of the attitudes to a rape on display, to comforting Miller that not everyone is like the culprit. Meanwhile, Miller had the good fortune this time that her family wasn’t directly involved in the crime, but she still had to bite her lip on more than one occasion, as it involuntarily curled. And it was great when she let rip.
The stuff that didn’t work so well…
Their story chugged on. Will they, won’t they get back together after the havoc wreaked by their tragedy? Fortunately, writer Chris Chibnall opted out of a cliche happy ending, opting for something sadder but far more realistic, but goodness, they took their time getting there. I can’t have been the only one shouting at the box, “Get back to the mystery. There’s a crime to solve, people.”
The Reverend Coates had a proper function in Series 1, but has kind of been hanging on in there ever since. They finally gave him a scene in the final episode, but until then, he’d provided an ear for some other characters who didn’t really need to explain themselves. He just kept being shoe-horned in.
Lenny Henry as Ed Burnett
Sorry to say, but his star wattage skewed the narrative of the piece, because it meant he couldn’t have that insignificant a role in the outcome of the story, and yet making him the villain might have been too obvious. Alas, he kind of got stuck in a pathetic place.
Catch up with ‘Broadchurch’ on ITV Player.