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Forget Gracepoint, Watch Broadchurch

October 20, 2014

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When I first heard about Gracepoint, I was confused. People were raving about Broadchurch, so why do an American remake for something that was pretty much readily available to American audiences via BBC America. As it turns out, FOX felt that not enough Americans had BBC America and therefore the American primetime audience was still in the dark about the British hit show about a small town murder of a young boy.

So, it was slated for the 2014 fall lineup. Though skeptical, I knew David Tennant was returning to play the same role that he played in the BBC version. I figured that if he was willing to play the same character in the same plot, then it must be good stuff.

Spoiler alert: it’s not.

I made it through about three episodes of the limited series before giving up on it. It is slow-paced, none of the characters are likeable, and it’s hard to buy any of the characters choices.

For starters, there’s Tennant as the lead in a murder investigation, Detective Carter. He is new to the small town, and while we don’t learn that he hates the town until the third episode, it wasn’t hard to figure it out on out own. He is short with everyone, and that’s when he’s in a good mood. When he’s not sulking or glaring, he’s yelling. Tennant is a spectacular actor, but unlike notable grumps like House (Hugh Laurie) or Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), there’s nothing endearing about him. Then, there’s his supposed foil, Ellie Miller (Anna Gunn), who is our eyes into the investigation. Carter got the job that Miller had been promised, so she starts out with resentment against him. But she is bound and determined not to look at the case objectively, to the point that one has to wonder: does she actually care who committed the crime, or is she more concerned with protecting the family, even though the dad looks suspicious as hell? Doesn’t sounds like a cop who was about to get a promotion. And speaking of the father (Michael Pena), every bit of evidence points to him, but he refuses to provide an alibi for the time when his son was murdered, even after being caught in several lies. As it turns out, he was having an affair and was trying to both his wife and mistress by not revealing it. I don’t buy that for a second. You’re willing to go to jail for murdering your son to protect your affair? Unlikely.

Most of the supporting cast is equally irritating. Jacki Weaver plays an old shut in with a dog whose every phrase indicates that she knows more than she’s telling, and implies that she’s going to commit a crime herself, but no one brings her in for questioning. Similarly, Nick Nolte is an old fisherman who is sketchy as hell, yet apparently was allowed to work with children. Miller’s nephew Reporter (Kevin Zegers) can’t make up his mind whether he wants to be true to his hometown or move up in the reporting game, after breaking the story to a bigger news source in the first place, bringing an annoying and interfering reporter into the town to harass the community.

Other characters pop in and out of the investigation, providing more questions than answers, as it should be in a murder mystery where everyone is a suspect. And while normally, I’d be fascinated by a small town where everyone has a secret that comes out when a heinous crime is committed, there is just something lacking in Gracepoint. Secrets and lies abound, but they lack intrigue and interest.

I’ve never seen Broadchurch, but the reviews are amazing, and a few reviews I’ve read comparing the two have said that fans of the British version will likely be bored and annoyed by the American one, so my recommendation to you is to skip Gracepoint altogether. Just watch Broadchurch and enjoy a better show.

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