Thursday, May 8, 2014

Broadchurch: Season One DVD Review

Set in contemporary times in the Dorset seaside town of Broadchurch, the mystery begins when the body of 11-year-old Danny Latimer is found on a popular beach just before the onslaught of tourist season. Through eight gripping episodes that will leave your insides twisted into knots, two deliciously dueling detectives (Colman and Tennant) are brought together by circumstances to solve the murder. Under the glare of an increasing media spotlight, the two race to find the killer amid the devastated townspeople struggling to keep their close-knit community together while bracing for secrets that will be laid bare.

Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Eleven-year-old Danny Latimer is found dead on the beach in a small tourist town. As the investigation builds, everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide. For Detective-Inspector Alec Hardy, he needs to figure out which secrets are relevant and which are not… all while keeping a secret of his own. I’d wanted to watch Broadchurch since I heard about it. Of course, I missed it when it aired on BBC America, and couldn’t find it On-Demand. 

When presented with the opportunity to review it, I jumped on it. As a huge David Tennant fan, it was great seeing him in a serious role and using his own accent. Olivia Coleman is great as his partner, with whom he builds a caring partnership. The whole cast did a fabulous job and I look forward to the second season and the U.S. version of the show, still starring David Tennant.

Broadchurch is an eight episode season. Each episode is about 50 minutes and packed with information and speculation. Who killed Danny and why? The investigation and the murderer will surprise you.

The list of episodes and a recap of each is below:
  • Episode 1.1 – When the tiny English seaside town of Broadchurch wakes up to the murder of 11-year-old, Danny Latimer, newly-hired Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (Tennant) takes on the case.  With the help of Detective Sergeant, Ellie Miller, who is upset she was passed over for Hardy’s job, Hardy begins the tough investigation into the horrible crime.  Because it’s a small town, all the residents are connected and Ellie’s nephew Ollie is a cub reporter at the local newspaper.  After tweeting the victim’s identity, Ellie and Alec deal with the fallout from the revelation.  When Ellie arrives home, she lets her son, Tom, Danny’s best friend, know that Danny has died, and after his parents leave his bedroom, Tom suspiciously deletes text messages from his phone and deletes files from his computer.
  • Episode 1.2 – As the investigation continues, Alec and Ellie find videotape of Danny riding his skateboard down the street the night he was killed.  After questioning Danny’s parents and sister, his father, Mark, becomes a suspect when he will not reveal his whereabouts the night of the murder.  At the police station, Ellie and Alec receive some information from a very unlikely source.  Meanwhile, after searching the Latimer home, police find money hidden under Danny’s bed and cocaine in his sister Chloe’s bedroom.  Close confesses that she’s holding it for someone and reveals that person is Rebecca, the proprietor of the local hotel.  Danny’s mother, Beth, tries to have some normalcy by going to the market, but breaks down in the parking lot.  Reverend Paul Coates (Arthur Darvill) comes to her aid and sits with her while she confesses a secret to him.
  • Episode 1.3 – After the conversation with Hardy, Mark is taken to the police station in order to account for his whereabouts on the night Danny was killed.  He is subsequently arrested for impeding the investigation.  After his true alibi comes forward and Beth finds would exactly who it is, she is angry and confides in Reverend Coates.  Steve comes to Beth telling her he has information about Danny and that Alec and Ellie didn’t listen to him when he went to them.  When evidence is found at a summer home on the bluffs, the caretaker Susan denies ever knowing Mark was at the house.  And Karen, the reporter from the Daily Mail who is in town covering the story knows Alec's secret.  As the episode ends, a boat is found in the sea burning.
  • Episode 1.4 -- Alec and Ellie investigate the burning of the boat in the water, while Beth takes comfort in hearing what Steve has to say.  She invites Alec and Ellie to the house in order to hear out Steve, but Alec removes him from the house telling him to stay away from the family.  Karen convinces the Latimers to tell their story and gets the exclusive.  After the story breaks, the Latimers are overwhelmed by the press and hold a press conference in order to curb the media frenzy.  After a nice dinner at Ellie's, Alec returns to the hotel only to pass out on the floor of the bathroom and is found the next morning by Rebecca.  He asks Rebecca to keep his secret and returns to work.  Meanwhile, Maggie, the editor of the local newspaper, finds out the Susan is not who she says she is, and Olly reveals to the police that Jack, the owner of the news stand has a criminal past. After the revelation, Jack goes to the Latimers and insists he did not kill Danny.
  • Episode 1.5 – When the townspeople hear about Jack’s past, they begin harassing him. As more information comes out, many of the sea brigade fathers gather and threaten him. Mark comes to Jack’s defense, and after learning the whole story, believes that he didn’t kill Danny. Meanwhile, Ellie confronts Mark about his affair and Mark learns about Chloe’s boyfriend Dean. Tom catches the eye of Susan, who may or may not have a hidden agenda. Unfortunately for Jack, the harassment gets to him and he takes drastic measures to make it stop.
  • Episode 1.6 – In the aftermath or Jack’s death, the townspeople, feeling guilty all attend his funeral. As they mourn, the investigation into Danny’s death is scaled back. Susan’s secret life is becoming more and more interesting, and after inviting Tom into her home, she gives him Danny’s skateboard. At the newspaper, Maggie is digging into Susan’s past and while interviewing her, Alec and Ellie arrive to arrest her. Once at the police station, Susan refuses to answer any questions until she sees her dog, but he is nowhere to be found… Nigel, Mark’s business partner and Susan’s possible accomplice in whatever it is she’s hiding, has taken him. Ellie gets a call that someone has broken into the vacation home and as she and Alec investigate, Alec collapses after chasing the suspect out.
  • Episode 1.7 – Alec checks himself out of the hospital again, and Ellie encourages him to go home. The stubborn Alec insists on returning to work and tells Ellie to continue interviewing Susan. Finally, after hours of questions, Ellie resorts to using the missing dog against her, and gets Susan to tell her the truth about the night Danny was killed and what she saw. Susan implicates Nigel as having placed Danny’s body on the beach, and Nigel is promptly arrested. After questioning him and Susan separately, Alec and Ellie discover the connection between the two of them. After releasing them, a tail is put on Nigel, who then loses it and goes to Susan’s trailer and threatens her. Meanwhile, the Reverend Paul calls Alec and gives him Tom’s computer. He tells Alec Tom threatened to tell a lie about him if he gave the computer to the police. He also tells Alec that Tom and Danny were not friends – that in fact, he recently broke up a fight between the two of them. Alec relents and gives the newspaper an interview, explaining why he left his old job and what went wrong with that case. At dinner, Dean tells the Latimers that Danny had been going hunting with him and Nigel and was under the impression he had his parents’ permission.
  • Episode 1.8 – When Danny’s killer is found and confesses, it is a shock to the whole town. The Latimers are finally able to put Danny to rest and at night, they hold a vigil for him and light a beacon near the water. Once the beacon is lit, many others are lit in Danny’s memory along the coast.

Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Broadchurch is presented in wide-screen 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is very good. The picture is clear and sharp and everything is easily seen. Scenes where parts are out of focus are used sparingly and used well. Evening and night scenes were good and the darker hues blended well with the lighter ones.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
The 2.0 Dolby Digital audio presentation of Broadchurch is really good. English SDH subtitles are available for the deaf and hard of hearing. The dialogue is clear and everything is easily heard. The background is good and there is no muffled or hard to hear sounds. It’s an easily heard show that makes it easy to listen to.
Extras (3 stars out of 5)
The special features were good, not great. I always like to see bloopers and gag reels, but the behind the scenes feature was fun to watch and the deleted scenes were interesting to see what was left out and how they could have made the show better or different.
  • Behind the Scenes Featurette – This is a look at the show behind the scenes. It’s an explanation as to why it was an eight hour series and not a regular serial television show. The featurette includes comments from cast and crew and starts with the very first read through of the show. It was interesting to watch it and see how they all came into their parts and how they all interacted together.
  • Deleted Scenes – All the deleted scenes for the show, starting with episode one and going through all the episodes. Though I enjoyed watching them, I think each scene was a good choice to delete.
  • Trailer – The official trailer for the show.
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Broadchurch reminded me of a Twin Peaks sort of show without the weird “log lady.” There was a mystery with townspeople with many secrets and a surprising killer. I went through moments where I was certain I had figured out who killed Danny and was ultimately surprised when I was wrong. I’m looking forward to watching the second season when it is aired on BBC America and also the new U.S. version, this fall. Broadchurch is a great show and I hope it stays on for a few seasons.

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