I don’t want to jump on the dogpile of people bashing the current season of Broadchurch. I’m actually enjoying it, if not in the same visceral way I enjoyed season 1. It’s not even a hater thing. It’s just that the first series was so good, that topping it would have been difficult under any circumstances.
What made the first season so perfect was the sense of insularity of the town of Broadchurch. It wasn’t cut off from everything in a literal sense, but it definitely was in a metaphorical sense. Until the murder occurred and let everything in, it felt untouched by the real world. But once the horrific crime occurred, the bio-dome cracked. The outside came leaking, with the outside cop (Hardy) and the outside newspapers. Plus we begin to see that the town was not as picture perfect as was originally perceived. But the first series was primarily about the effect of this crime on this town. At no time did they suspect some random murderer had tome to their town. They knew it was one of them. It was kind of like an Agatha Christie in that way, where all the suspects are in the manor house and everyone is eyeing everyone else up as a suspect. The best bit of the first series was watching the town suspect itself and slowly fall apart.
That insularity is what’s missing from the second series. In fact the second series is the exact opposite of insular. Most of the major players are from outside, and the residents of Broadchurch are just along for the ride. Even the secondary plotline, the Sandhurst case, takes place elsewhere, though they manage to drag all the main players to Broadchurch one way or another. And with Hardy living in a beach house and much of the Sandhurst stuff taking place there, it feels as if they’re out of town.
All of the new players come complete with their own baggage, and much of it seems forced: the prosecutor and her blindness, the defender and her troubled son and the pair of them and their past history, the supremely dysfunctional relationship of Lee and Clare, (and the parents of the murdered girls). Only Meera Syal gets nothing (except wear the wrong wig apparently). Her talents are wasted in this, but maybe they’re still waiting to brain us with her backstory. At this point I’m not much bothered who committed the Sandhurst murders – they should all be put away on general principle. Also, I’m not a lawyer so I can’t bash the trial for inaccuracies, but it seems to me that the defender is doing exactly what she should, lowering the signal to noise ratio – bringing up so many irrelevancies that reasonable doubt is brought into play.
Maybe Chris Chibnall, will bring this all together in one spectacular conclusion, who knows. I can’t imagine where they’d go in season three if it gets picked up.