Sunday, March 22, 2015

Broadchurch - case dismissed!

tv series review

There is little to applaud in the second season of Broadchurch

Series 2

Creating the second instalment to a critically acclaimed work can be a tricky task. The challenge often lies in coming up with the right mix of tried and tested components that made the first instalment special as well as introducing compelling new elements that will make the second series interestingly different. It is this challenge that the British television series Broadchurch has been struggling with and its return, with a less gripping case and a rambling trial, has yielded mixed results.

The magnetic first series of the crime drama — which followed detectives Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller’s (Olivia Colman) search for the murderer of a young boy named Danny — received a lot of praise from critics and viewers alike. The trial of the accused killer (who was revealed at the end of the previous series after being shrouded in secrecy for its entire run) forms the crux of the second series, with Charlotte Rampling and Marianne Jean-Baptiste joining the cast as prosecutor and defence counsel respectively.

Meanwhile, the community continues to face the repercussions of the tragedy that befell the small town. Danny’s parents, Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker) and Mark Latimer (Andrew Buchan), struggle with the ordeal of sitting through the trial while also dealing with problems in their marriage. Beth and Ellie’s relationship is strained, while the latter is left to come to terms with the events and their impact on her life and career.

Also, Hardy is still haunted by his inability to solve the Sandbrook case and the killer of cousins Pippa Gillespie (Hollie Burgess) and Lisa Newbery (Eliza Bennett) remains at large. Hardy tries once again to nail down the suspect, hoping his key witness Claire Ripley (Eve Myles) will somehow help him build a case against her former husband Lee Ashworth (James D’Arcy), the suspected murderer.

Laden with contrived situations and excessive subplots, the series plays out slowly and unevenly. The writers don’t have a solid story that would make eight riveting episodes which is probably why the whole season is peppered with developments that are either unconvincing or ultimately have no relevance or significance. It also doesn’t help that creator and co-writer Chris Chibnall and his team never manage to create the same kind of emotional impact with the Sandbrook case as they did with Danny’s case.

The acting, however, remains impressive. Colman is consistently terrific and Tennant continues to embody his role well. Together they make the series more compelling, often making us forget how unrealistic or inaccurate the developments really are.

On the whole, the season suffers because of its inconsistency and inability to generate enough emotional resonance. But viewers who have seen the first instalment should definitely go back to Broadchurch for the second outing. The drama will give them enough reasons to hang around till the end because ultimately, while it may not be as good as it was last time around, it is not a complete let-down either.

Rating: 3 out of 5

- By Sameen Amer

Sunday Magazine, The Express Tribune - 22nd March, 2015 *

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