Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Broadchurch Series 3, Episode 1 by Chris Chibnall (2017)

On the basis of last night’s episode, Broadchurch has gone beyond mere crime drama to something gut-wrenching, humane and deeply empathetic, rivalling the moving portrayal of grief in its first season.

Season 2 was something of a disappointment in the muddled way it portrayed Britain’s legal system and tried to blend Joe Miller’s trial with the Sandbrook case in Alec Hardy’s case. This was the polar opposite: taut, focused and emotionally charged. Writer Chris Chibnall has very sensibly chosen to return viewers to the Wessex coast for a new storyline that requires no active knowledge of past seasons, a storyline which shocks and engages right from the off.

Two things particularly impress about Chibnall’s approach. The first is leaving words unspoken and scenes unseen. In an age where so much poor TV is sunk by flat, over-earnest dialogue or gratuitous violence, the decision to open with tight, unfussy camerawork framing the bloodied, tear-stained face of Trish Winterman (an outstanding Julie Hesmondhalgh) in the aftermath of a sexual assault speaks volumes.