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Broadchurch - Season 2

Reviewed by Nathaniel Segal

Created and written by Chris Chibnall
Second season of eight episodes that were broadcast in Britain during March and April 2015, as well as over BBC America.
Produced for Independent Television (ITV) by Kudos Film and Television & Imaginary Friends.
DVD edition for North America - 2015

By the time I watched Broadchurch, season 1, audiences had seen this second season and loved it as much, even more, than the first season.  I wanted to love it as I had the first season, but it didn't work out that way.  Actually, I watched this season three times to identify what was bothering me.  I rewatched episodes out of order so that I could focus and so that I could identify what I found to be weak.

This season presents us with "utterly unconvincing story lines," to quote another reviewer.  The primary plot line defies belief.  The sidelines are more freakish than entertaining.

I liken these stories, unflatteringly, to a three-ring circus.  Creator and writer Chibnall presents action and noise in each ring, but I wasn't in the mood for a circus.

Last season, a resident of Broadchurch was indicted as the murderer of the boy Danny Latimer.  This season begins with his trial – a most unconventional proceeding.  His defense barrister Sharon Bishop, played by Marrianne Jean-Batiste, conducts a defense in a way that cannot be believed.  She often fails to ask prosecution witnesses follow-up questions.  Instead, she makes accusations intended to disparage the reputation of the witness.  In an American court, as portrayed on American television anyway, a prosecutor would be up and calling out, "Objection.  Is there a question here?"

This barrister of the alleged murderer seems to be omniscient.  If the trial were realistic, only an immense team of assistants and private detectives could have discovered some facts for her to misuse.  She does this with one assistant.

For example, Detective Ellie Miller visits Detective Inspector Alec Hardy's hotel room late at night to discuss the case.  Hardy had been transferred after the apprehension of the murderer, so he was no longer living in the Broadchurch region.  As a result, he was staying in a hotel.  Barrister Bishop turns this information into an accusation that Miller and Hardy were having an affair.  Miller is on the stand for her testimony and loses her composure while protesting this accusation.  Bishop simply drowns her out and claims that all of Miller's testimony is self-serving and lies.  Again, the prosecuting barrister fails to protest, and the judge doesn't protest either.

How did Bishop get such information, the late night meeting in a hotel room?  She seems to have assembled the time-line of these professionals to use against them.  If Bishop is not omniscient, she's talented.  And if she's not talented, she's lucky.

The trial is one ring in this circus.  I won't spoil your viewing by introducing other concurrent plots.  The other story lines are not exciting or entertaining anyway.

Understandably, the Latimers attend every court session.  At the same time, though, their house is clean and orderly.  No issue of finding clean laundry comes up.  Who has been shopping and putting together meals?  Wouldn't it be sensible for Chibnall to dramatize a kitchen hassle to show us the general toll that the trial is taking on the Latimers?  "We've got cereal, but where's the milk?"  "We've got milk, but I don't see any cereal" (American breakfast).  In fact we don't even see that the Latimers are eating during the short periods when they're at home or on weekends.

Mark Latimer has a small business.  He is a plumber with one associate/assistant.  Even so, he talks about paternity leave as if he were a well-paid employee with liberal benefits.  Or perhaps he's really independently wealthy and working with his hands is a hobby?

The producers add a gratuitous lesbian kissing scene in the last episode of the season.  I can't see how anyone would think that this scene deepens our understanding of the two characters who are kissing.

Irritating music – the orchestral soundtrack

I was beyond disappointed hearing the program's background music during the first episode.  It irritated me to the point where I'm calling attention to this other lapse.  The episode began with the short rhythmic musical phrase of the same two piano keys alternating.  This single motif accompanied the visual story of the first fourteen minutes.  This motif recurred periodically during this episode, also.  For me, this is a drama's correspondence to a laugh track.  Typically, I feel insulted by a laugh track because, in effect, it announces how THIS MOMENT IS FUNNY!

In Broadchurch, I heard the same two alternating piano keys as an announcement that THIS PROGRAM IS DRAMATIC!  PAY CLOSE ATTENTION!  My attitude is, "Show me.  Don't tell me."

Annoying and disappointing – not entertaining

Altogether, this second season wasn't worth my watching.  I don't even consider that it was worthwhile to have been produced.  Of course, I write this as someone who doesn't stand to gain financially.

The audience who loved this season are a different breed from me.  I certainly won't watch season 3, in the making, uless and until I make a broad leap of faith.

Some incidentals –

On location – local people enjoyed watching the filming and were proud that their region also "starred" in the show.  Of note, though,

"Alec's waterside home.  Every time it comes on screen, you can just imagine sitting there watching the sun go down with a nice glass of wine.  If only we had 275,000."

From:  Broadchurch news in the Bridport & Lyme Regis News
Newsquest Media | A Gannett Company

From IMDb trivia about The Killing:
"Contrary to popular belief, Broadchurch is not based on or a remake of the Danish show The Killing, and the script for Broadchurch actually predates The Killing by at least five years.  Chris Chibnall originally had the idea for Broadchurch and started working on the script in 2002, however, it took him ten years to get the show on air."

See what I wrote about this for Season 1.

[I would like to compare this British series with Gracepoint, an American remake of Broadchurch - a TV mini-series of 10 episodes, 2014, distributed in the U.S.A. by Fox Television.]

(Last updated August 14, 2016  12:17 PM)