Image Source: Variety
Not that you were anyway.
As a Doctor Who fan not blessed with BBC America, I had heard of Broadchurch (the show upon which Gracepoint is based), but I had not seen it. Still I was excited to see David Tennant was in the American series, and I thought it couldn’t be that bad.
As I was to discover later, in many ways the American version is almost a shot-for-shot remake of the British original, but something about it falls flat. After the first episode my wife and I decided to hop on Amazon Instant video and pick up the first episode of Broadchurch for $1.99.
The episode is 7 minutes longer than the American version, begins and ends in the same place, and yet feels paced better. Some scenes do move quicker, the scene where the mother is running toward the beach in particular. The American version seems to take this as a way to show an attractive grieving woman moving slowly. The British version, shows the woman’s clothes blowing around and ballooning so that at times she looks kind of ridiculous (and human and realistic). The scene with the father first seeing his dead son in the morgue is much longer in the British version, and played with a great deal more emotion.
And Anna Gunn lacks the chemistry with Tennant that he had with Olivia Colman. Many critics have made the comment that the people in the American version are “too pretty”, especially Gunn, who comes off as not really being of the place where all this is happening. My feeling is more that Gunn has tapped into the cranky parts of this character more than the caring parts. Colman’s performance could involve tantrums and swearing (and a particularly colorful threat which made me laugh out loud in a later episode), but she equally was a considerate and caring person, and her humanity is key given the direction this case leads.
Another funny thing is that the American version seems more crass, even though it doesn’t have the swearing of the British original. In the second episode we’re treated to a lesbian describing the moment she “stopped liking penises”, which while intended as a strong comeback, damages her credibility as the head of a newspaper, and seems out of context in the argument. There’s other little things like the use of a needle for treating Tennant’s condition rather than just pills and the slight ramp up in the violence of the crime (though strangulation is pretty bad too).
And since we’re heading into nit-picky territory anyway, when drugs are discovered in the teenage sister’s room, Gunn’s character takes her out onto the sidewalk to discuss it privately, with people clearly in the background! In Broadchurch this scene happens far from the house in this huge back yard shared by multiple homes, but unable to be heard by anyone but the people talking.
I really don’t know why Fox made this, particularly since the filming and dialogue are so close to the original. If you’re not going to make your own unique take on this, then why not air the far superior original, with the swears beeped and the one scene with male butt cut out?
Tom Shaw from Bubble Watch says it best:
“Gracepoint always seemed like a tough sell; you have all 12 or so people that had heard of Broadchurch but were scared away by British accents, and whatever tiny sliver of demo is interested in long-form mysteries. Unsurprisingly, this arrived DOA. Fox doesn’t have much to replace this with (as it is, they have an hour of repeats scheduled for Fridays), so they will likely just ride this out.”
But you don’t have to “ride it out”. You can stop, and if you haven’t seen it, buy Broadchurch. I promise you it is worth every penny.
*And as an added bonus you get Arthur Darvill in Broadchurch for all you Whovians.