With season two coming to BBC America on Wednesday, Mar. 4 (and the announcement of season three this week), now is the perfect time to binge Broadchurch, an eight-part British mystery that’ll have you guessing right through to the end.
What’s the premise? Two detectives investigate the murder of an eleven-year-old boy in a British coastal village where everyone’s a suspect.
What’s it like? Broadchurch takes the classic buddy detective template (she’s by the book, he plays by his own rules), drops it into a beautiful little seaside town, and gives the procedural depth by showing the emotional aftermath of an unspeakable crime. That said, Broadchurch is never melodramatic; it’s haunting and sad. It would be fair to compare it to the first season of The Killing — gloomy, raw, creepy, suspenseful — but unlike The Killing, Broadchurch season one has a definitive resolution.
Where can I see it? Season one is available in its entirety on Netflix. You can also pay to stream it on Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and Xbox Video. You can also get the complete first season on DVD and Blu-ray.
How long will it take? Eight hours. That’s it. And that’s including breaks, since each episode is only 45 minutes long. Plenty of time to catch up before season two next Wednesday.
What do the critics think? Season one is Certified Fresh at 90 percent, with most critics agreeing that Broadchurch is a well-written procedural with fine actors and an engrossing mystery. In her rave for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Gail Pennington wrote, “It’s everything great drama should be — riveting, raw, heartbreaking, funny and very, very smart.” And Alan Sepinwall of HitFix identified what set apart Broadchurch from all the other shows with a similar premise. “Broadchurch is a police procedural, and an effective one, but what renders it special is the way it tracks the ways that physical and emotional violence haunts everyone in the town.”
Why should I watch this? The Brits know how to weave a mystery. Anyone looking for a slow burn among the damp, lush cliffs of the English seaside will want to spend eight hours in Broadchurch. Each episode unfolds a new element to the mystery and a new motive to consider. The two detectives, brought to life by Olivia Colman and David Tennant, have chemistry and compassion for each other, and the dozen featured townspeople are given enough screentime to breathe. As the characters criss-cross, the narrative never strays too far from the mystery at hand, making the final few episodes extra-rewarding.
What’s my next step? In 2014, Fox aired an American adaptation, Gracepoint, starring Breaking Bad‘s Anna Gunn and Broadchurch‘s David Tennant, so you might want to give that a shot — though many critics agree that it pales in comparison to the original. Other options that capture the mood and pace of Broadchurch are the Sundance TV 2013 miniseries Top of the Lake with Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss, HBO’s first season of True Detective with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson from 2014, and Pivot’s new Certified Fresh series Fortitude with Stanley Tucci, airing now. Season one of The Missing on Starz is another season-contained mystery treated with emotional depth and cinematic storytelling. And Masterpiece’s The Escape Artist, a three-parter with David Tennant as a London lawyer confronted with personal tragedy, is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Will you be caught up with Broadchurch before season two starts? Let us know in the comments below!