Finding a New ‘Church:’ Netflix Answers Prayers with British Crime Drama 2 comments


I haven’t had the opportunity to write about all the TV shows I’ve discovered on Netflix. So, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to start tackling some of these reviews and articles.

First of all, I believe there is more than one way to digest television shows and movies, and as a TV show and film junky I utilize as many options as humanly possible. Some people might call it excessive, but cable doesn’t provide all that I need. I have Verizon Fios, and I love it, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy DVRing shows and utilizing OnDemand to catch up on shows. However, I supplement my fix with Redbox, iTunes and YouTube rentals. I not only use Apple TV to stream content but also the SmartTV settings.

While we are about to add Amazon Prime to our repertoire, Netflix continues to be the best way to consume the most diverse array of television shows, especially those from Great Britain and Australia. Unfortunately, it’s a tease when most of these shows only offer a handful of episodes per season. Sometimes there is but one season.

Criminal detective shows are among my favorite, and discovering foreign gems has been a rewarding ride. One such show with only eight episodes for season one is Broadchurch, a detective thriller about a how a young boy’s murder in a small coastal fictitious town though shot in Clevedon, England.

Who killed Danny Latimer? That was the mystery that sucked me in immediately. What’s great about this series, as an American, the actors are not familiar as well as the location and even the cadence of the show feels different from typical Hollywood detective thrillers. The deliberate pace along with the serious yet subtle acting makes this show not only highly believable but also highly addicting. There’s nothing cheesy or overdone about this show. There aren’t unbelievable plot twists that make you roll your eyes and say, “come on, really?!” (Sons of Anarchy, anyone?)

The only American show that compares is The Killing, which offered the same type of structure and cadence, unlike Criminal Minds and other shows that force you to solve a different crime each week yet in a formulaic, serialized manner. The Killing, True Detectives, and Broadchurch execute a mystery in the same way good old Twin Peaks did: Solve one crime and one crime only. This type of structure is much more captivating and can suck you in from the start because it’s fresh. The puzzle isn’t solved right out of the gate. Rather, the story seduces you to the edge of your seat, uncovering a new clue or clues each episode. Broadchurch really throws you for a loop, especially near the end because the killer is someone you would never expect.

The show centers around the fictitious town of Broadchurch, an incestuous intimate town where everyone knows everyone, so no one wants to be the one to come forward leaving the audience suspicious that nearly anyone can be the killer. DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) have something to prove. Hardy must prove he is capable of solving a murder to exorcise past demons and failures that haunt him from his previous job in London. Meanwhile Miller is a bit green around the ears, realizing that she’s in over her head when a real mystery grips her small town. Miller does a spot-on job of being as annoyingly insecure as she is likable, leaving you wondering just where she fits in to the investigation while you also root for her to get with the program. And Hardy fights a battle between exonerating his past by exposing Miller’s weaknesses and mentoring her as his protégé.

Miller makes it awfully easy to not have confidence in her, as she repeatedly wears her heart on her sleeve and being that it was her best friend Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker) whose son Danny (Oskar McNamara) is found dead on the beach. Miller struggles to define professional boundaries and is challenged at every turn, which leaves her unable to see that the murderer might just be closer to home than she would ever suspect.

DI Hardy, meanwhile, is more on the ball, as each episode reveals a man highly in tune with details that would normally pass by the most acute detective. So, it’s no surprise that his past wasn’t necessarily a mistake but the result of a cover up to protect indiscretions of someone he once loved. His past isn’t the only thing that Hardy has to fight against, but also an illness that brings him to his knees almost handicapping him from doing his job. But, Hardy indeed pulls through and helps put the pieces together unexpectedly pulling the blinders off Miller’s eyes.

The cadence isn’t sounded by immediate plot twists that keep turning again and again until your eyes roll at the impossibilities. If Kurt Sutter directed the show, then I’m sure there would have been plenty of over acting and an excess of twists and antics. No, the British don’t make the same mistakes that Hollywood does. They embrace the art of less is more and utilize deliberate slow action that mesmerizes you before providing titillating moments.

I’ll leave the shocking reveal of who the killer is for you to find out for yourself, especially if you’re smart enough to have Netflix and enjoy binging on new TV shows. If you’re bored of predictable and enjoy watching innovative detective series, then you need to watch Broadchurch. But be warned you’ll be pleasantly addicted and unable to stop yourself from blazing through all eight episodes.

Broadchurch has a season two teaser trailer up for those that are interested. It resumes Wednesday March 4th on BBC. Unfortunately, the most frustrating part of finding an awesome show on Netflix is having to wait until they get a hold of the next season.

About Sonyo Estavillo

I am a creative professional with extensive project experience from concept to development (scripted and non-scripted). My talents are diverse and include: producing, directing, production management, videography, social media/viral marketing, research, non-linear editing, story development, and content writing. *Masters in Television, Radio, & Film @ Newhouse, Syracuse University *Bachelors in Film Production @ CSULB

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