Broadchurch Series 3 – Good, but don’t fall into the old storytelling habits

This was very popular here, and in the UK, for both its first two series, so expectations are high for the return of detectives Hardy (David Tennant) and Miller (Olivia Colman) in the southern English coastal town of the title. The first episode aired on TVNZ in a prime time slot on Sunday night, and it was as well produced, directed and acted as ever. But, to capture us for a third time, it was going to have to come up with something really special. It’s a risky business passing judgment after only one episode, but at this early stage I have a mix of praise and concern.

The praise is all for the aforementioned qualities – Hardy and Miller are as tetchy with each other but grudgingly respectful as ever. (When will Hardy shave his beard properly, I ask, but perhaps that’s a telling sign of his personality – he doesn’t care how it looks or what others might think) The writers have brought back several (so far) of the characters from the early series, in particular the parents of the murdered boy Danny, Beth and Mark Latimer (Jodie Whitaker and Andrew Buchan respectively). So they’ve maintained continuity while embarking on a new storyline.

There was deft directing, with the early shot of a tear rolling down the cheek of sexual assault victim Trish (Julie Hesmondhalgh, of Coronation Street fame) a stand out. And the attention to detail during Trish’s first interview with Hardy and Miller, her contact with social services and her subsequent forensic examination were gruelling but riveting, and established the police procedural credentials of the new series quick smart.

And, as mentioned, here – at least so far – we are not dealing with a murder but a sexual assault, and by the first episode’s end it seemed it was a premeditated and planned attack, raising concerns across the whole community.  And Beth Latimer for one will be drawn into the new crime, as a support person for Trish. So a clever intertwining of the old and the new.

So you’ll be thinking there’s not too much to gripe about, and yes I’ll do my best to follow the series and see where it leads. The concern is that the previously well established pattern or arc of telling each episode appears to be being employed yet again. And by that I mean that after a while over the first two series you knew you were going to be dangled an obvious clue for it to be batted aside in the next episode. Alright, the purpose of these things is to keep you guessing, so what else are the writers going to do I hear you ask, but it became a bit of an over worked formula.  I am expecting that the two men who appear to be in the gun at the end of episode one, may not be after the end of the episode two. I’d be very happy to be proved wrong.  I guess I’ll have to watch to find out, which, of course, is the whole point.

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