‘Gracepoint’ Finale Highlights ‘Broadchurch’ Remake’s Shortcomings (SPOILERS)

Gracepoint Season Finale TV Review Fox

Someday classes will likely be taught about “Gracepoint,” the Fox series remake of BBC America’s far superior “Broadchurch,” seeking to decipher what was lost in translation. On its merits, though, the season (and likely series) finale, which divulged the killer’s identity, merely reinforces the experiment as a failed one, especially in this age where so many first-rate British dramas are readily available in the U.S. via one platform or another.

The program’s showrunners Anya Epstein and Dan Futterman had stayed rather coy about how much they would tinker with Chris Chibnall’s creation going forward, which included the possibility of changing who the murderer was. That seemed interesting, or at least, a way to keep the TV critics who had so admired “Broadchurch” guessing. (What follows will contain SPOILERS both about “Gracepoint” and the original “Broadchurch.”)

Ultimately, though, the scenario was almost exactly the same, with a twist: Danny had been killed while he was with Joe (Josh Hamilton), the husband of the detective (Anna Gunn) who had been investigating the case – brought about by Joe’s strange, unsettling relationship with the dead boy. Yet the producers made one gratuitous, wholly ridiculous change, having Danny’s death actually be caused by an accidental blow inflicted by the detective’s son.

The dad, in other words, was covering for his kid, out of a sense of guilt. And the mother — in her anger — ultimately allowed him to do so.

To be honest, I was one of the few reviewers who didn’t completely fall for “Broadchurch,” perhaps because the payoff – having the murder strike so close to home – felt to me like a cliché. It was enough, given the suspenseful buildup, to somewhat undermine what had preceded it.

Yet the main wrinkle thrown in to differentiate “Gracepoint” – and the silly, cryptic closing moments – made the original seem like perfection by comparison. And at least the first series was masterful in terms of atmosphere, pacing and performances, much of which didn’t survive the flight across the pond.

The altered finish followed what had felt like a shot-for-shot remake of the first couple of episodes, with mild detours in the middle, but nothing that seriously departed from the program’s basic direction, scattering red herrings to keep the audience off-balance. As a result, my initial reservations about the show gradually multiplied.

Even the usually brilliant David Tennant, playing the driven investigator in both shows, struggled with the nondescript accent he had adopted, and the coastal setting lacked the same ambience and sense of economic malaise as its British counterpart.

On the plus side, “Broadchurch” will return for a second season beginning in February, although it’s fair to harbor some skepticism about continuing a story that felt so self-contained.

Obviously, this was the year to roll the dice on limited series – programs with a beginning, middle and end. “True Detective,” “Fargo” and “American Horror Story” cast long shadows, and offered inspiration to explore the form.

There have also been no shortage of U.S. series effectively adapted from British formats, from “All of the Family” to “The Office” to “House of Cards.” For all that, given the way “Gracepoint” fell short – before finally falling apart – in this case, that third title would have been just as appropriate.

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  1. Marcia Barbosa says:

    I can not understand why to remake something that was done in the same idiom at the first place. Gracepoint had the responsibility to be far better because it was built in the experience of the UK
    series but this is not the case. Interesting but not better.

  2. Susan pickup says:

    Broad church was excellent but grace point was pathetic. New ending that was incorrect because there was no ending. Everyone knew that Tom killed Danny. The ending was well poor. US should stop trying make copies of our drama.
    Broad church superb Grace point rubbish.

  3. Robert Heron says:

    Does anyone know if Fox is planning a remake of the new Broadchurch series, to be provisionally titled GracePointless2.

  4. I wish that Fox decide to air Broadchurch instead of created Gracepoint. Fox would have a hit on it and an second season on it hand.

  5. michele says:

    Best show I have seen in years. I loved it.

  6. I hope that there will be a second season for Gracepoint and I hope that the writer will get their act together.

  7. Ann says:

    If someday classes are taught and some lesson is to be learned about Gracepoint, it might be how a bunch of sour naysayers ruined a perfectly good show with their constant harping about how it wasn’t the same as the original. Season 2 for Gracepoint could definitely go where Broadchurch 2 cannot, because of the subtle differences in the ending. I love Broadchurch, but I appreciate the differences that Gracepoint has. The characters are generally more intense. Carver is both more unlikeable and then easier to empathize with than Hardy. Ellie is stronger and turns a little bad in the end. The priest is more dimensional and creepier…add in the passion for Beth. Mark is easier to dislike, especially jealous Mark. Susan is creepier and Vince and Tom become bigger in their characteristics too. I like that the characters are larger. It has an intensity that Broadchurch does not have. The Brits are more refined than we brash Americans are and the show depicts that. And…..there is nothing wrong with David Tennant’s accent. We are a mutt society with a thousand different accents, so how can you say he failed to nail it. There is no one American accent. Every person I know of has a different way of speaking when analyzed. Lastly, I agree completely with the person who talked about the kind of programing we’ve had the last several years. With all the Reality TV, Contest Shows, Vampire Everything, and 30 different versions of CSI….why pick to pieces one of the few excellent shows we have a chance to see, to the place of destroying any chance we have at all to get some quality in our programing. Gracepoint is fantastic, the cast was great and I hope you idiot nit pickers don’t ruin what could be a good thing for quality programing starved fans.

  8. I must agree with Gloria about wishing that Fox would renewal the show and continue the story. I wanted to know what happened to the detective and his partner. Will the son decide to tell everyone that his father didn’t killed his classmate and how his mother will be able to rebuilt her life now that her husband is behind bar. I wanted to save my money to buy both series on DVD.

  9. Gloria says:

    I just finished watching Grace Point & really liked it.. I hope they continue the story. That’s what happens when you go to college to became a critic you criticize everything.

  10. I watched the whole depressing story I thought it was the kid from the first show but wanted to know why. Boy do I feel like a moron I got tricked by Dr. Who. The ending couldn’t have been any worse I kept waiting for it to come back on with the cop waiting to arrest the kid & his mother while she tried to make a getaway. What a load of crap for so many good actors.

    • I must agree with Chalig ODnnell about Gracepoint. I still glad that the show was only 10 episode. How it ending left more question that it answer. I was hopping that the police discover that they arrest the wrong person and it was the son who killed the victim. I am glad that Broadchurch will have a second season and I will be shock if Gracepoint return for the second season.

  11. smartysfilly says:

    I liked the final 3 episodes but mostly I just wanted them to get to the finale so it would be over. I love David Tennant but Anna Gunn was unlikeable and I was kind of glad it was her family who was guilty just to punish her for being a miserable, mean person to Carver.

  12. peg trucksis says:

    huge huge fan of David Tennant but didn’t like him playing American. It didn’t seem real. Anna Gunn was completely the wrong choice. She was horrible just plain unrealistic. Broadchurch was fantastic and I say to my favorite David…stick to the English shows.

  13. Patricia Barone says:

    I thought the ten-part show and its ending were well done. It seems to me that critics have an overwhelming urge to negatively “criticize” anything that they are analyzing.

  14. The last episode of Gracepoint wanted to buy the the original series on DVD. I am glad that the Broadchurch got a second season. The Fox version left too many unanswer question. We both know that Detective Miller’s life in Gracepoint in finish for good and her family will need to move somewhere else.

  15. kaypricot says:

    I loved the whole ten episodes, I had theories but when it came down to it I had to go all in on Joe. Everything led up to it and it was cemented when Susan’s story mirrored det. Miller’s. Miller’s last words to Susan your own husband, your own *child.* Tom’s involvement was a key in foreshadowing and not brought about in the end without base.

  16. charlimac says:

    I loved Gracepoint I will watch Broadchurch to compare but I really enjoyed the show. I thought the actors were superb and worked well together. Gunn and Tennant’s characters have an awkward relationship, uncomfortable at times and it worked on screen. The times they clicked a little, even joked, I thought very accurate to how real detectives (being that I come from a family of them) tend to act around one another- especially when getting to know a new partner. Not sure another season would work as the story has been constructed. I’d like to see Tennant solve the case he worked on previously. If not, I am satisfied with how it ended. Loved it.

  17. Charlie says:

    Way too much of this show was exactly like the British, starting the the setting. They have taken it off the coast and had some other manner of death. Having David just invited constant comparisons. And the twist at the end just felt like it wasnt truly different enough given the rest of the scenario was the same.

  18. Douglas says:

    Despite a couple of interesting parts of episodes where the plots differed from Broadchurch, this seems to have had all of the life sucked out of it when it was transferred to the US. Sorry, David Tennant fans, but he was just awful throughout all of this – dull, disinterested, risible accent and in many ways created a black hole at the center of the show which meant that it struggled to get around the problem of his casting. I understand that Tennant was cast as part of the deal to make the show in the US, but if they had auditioned for a different actor, I think the vibe might have been different and perhaps we might have had some chemistry between the leads. Tennant and Gunn acted like they were in different shows most of the time. This lack of zing which Olivia Colman had in the original really dragged down the series. Poor casting in other roles (the father, the weird dog lady, the barkeeper, the two young reporters and the psychic), also didn’t help. While I hope Fox learned their lesson by getting their fingers burned with this, I somehow doubt it.

    • Just making stuff up, again. Change your MO. You sound like a broken record. Tennant laughed off the notion that the show hinged on a contract with him. He was terrific in the role and his accent was just fine.

      No one has said there would be no second season. That is all rumor. The producers still have hopes, according to interviews last night.

      • Clandestine Green says:

        I also thought the cast was great except for one notable casting flaw…Tennant. He seem woefully disinterested in the role…distant, distracted and dull. I thought that the victim’s family was especially well cast. Since I didn’t see Broadchurch, I didn’t mind the ending.

  19. I liked it. I wasnt blown away with it like I was with Breaking Bad. But I still enjoyed watching it everyweek

  20. I wanted to save my money to buy both Gracepoint/Broadchurch on DVD for my collection. I know that Broadchurch will be the better version. I got a feeling despite what Fox claim that there won’t be a second season if the rating/DVD sales is a winner there will be a second season. I wanted to know if Joe is still alive behind bar and will Det. Miller keep her mouth closed and protect her son who is the real killer from the law. The Miller family is finish and done.

  21. Sandra says:

    I have not seen Broadchurch and do not care how it compares. I am SO tired of critics droning on about that. Review the work for itself. I thought it was one of the best things on TV this year and loved every second, Quality maintained through each episode.. I thought the ending was very good but wish it could continue. Why don’t critics reserve their venom for shows that are not even trying to do something good?

  22. SJField says:

    Well, having not seen the British version, and thoroughly enjoying the acting and series, I guess I’ll just never make a critic.

  23. I was also a little disappointed in the ending, however when I thought about it, and i thought about it a long time–i realized that this ending does answer some pending questions i had with broadchurch. it made sense that the detective’s son, who in broadchurch, had started to hate danny, was acting shady, smashed up his own things, etc. could have killed danny out of jealousy or just freaking out. there was a homosexual undertone in the boys they hung out with, so there are a lot of things that made more sense in the new script, however i admit i was comparing the two, not watching gracepoint as a stand alone.

  24. Walter says:

    Doesn’t matter what the differences were with the original, most people will not bother watching the original, so they have nothing to compare it to. The show was not great, but it certainly didn’t help to have all the screaming and squawking comparing it to the original.

  25. Goodbyenoway says:

    Anna Gunn was badly miscast especially in comparison to the outstanding Olivia Colman whose performance was a master class in acting.

  26. Goodbyenoway says:

    You’re nuts. Broadchurch was brilliant in every way. The ending was devastating.

  27. HannahB says:

    A failure on many levels with a misunderstanding of what made the original successful. Deep at the heart of the failure was casting David Tennant in the lead part again which only drew attention back to the original. His inability to produce a passable or consistent accent distracted attention further, hampered by his very flat performance and complete lack of chemistry with Anna Gunn. While Gunn is a fine actress, this part did her no favors and she also had to compensate for Tennant’s very remote and lackluster presence in their scenes. Kudos to Virginia Kull and Nick Nolte but these two decent performances cannot disguise that Gracepoint simply was not well written, well acted, well cast nor well paced. D+ for tonight’s finale but definitely F for the entire seies. This series does not reflect well on any of the behind the camera or onscreen “talent”.

  28. Joy L. says:

    After tonight’s episode, I really do want to see more. It can’t just end there. I didn’t feel that way about Broadchurch. This ending was clearly a cliffhanger, where Broadchurch’s ending really wasn’t.

  29. Melissa Alderman says:

    Critics! Geez….this was a refreshing offering on TV compared to so many cheap and easy to make “reality shows”. I would say Hollywood has gotten away from good drama or storylines because people like you destroy the show before it can build a base. The writers have no depth any longer because if ratings fail in the first three weeks, the show is canceled. They don’t look to develop characters any longer.

    I’m not saying this was as good as Broadchurch or other potential limited series. But let’s give Fox its applaud for trying something not so ridiculous as another reality show, vapid comedy, or just another CSI. I, for one, appreciate something new and bold and look forward to upcoming shows.

    Let’s hope the critcs don’t try to get it canceled out of the gate much like this one.

    • Bette says:

      I agree, I got emersed in this show and the characters. I didn’t watch Broadchruch and I’m glad I saw Gracepoint on it’s own with nothing to compare it to.
      I hope it gets a second season, I will watch it for sure.

  30. It would have been great if the interviewer had actually paid attention when he watched the Gracepoint finale. The blow Tom gave Danny did not kill Danny. It knocked him down so that he hit his head on the rock his father said killed him in his confession. Same scenario only Tom aided the fall, not Joe. I mean the rock was pretty hard to miss in both scenarios.

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