‘Gracepoint’ vs. ‘Broadchurch’: How Fox’s Adaptation Differs From British Original

Gracepoint vs Broadchurch

Fans of acclaimed British murder mystery “Broadchurch” may question the need for a U.S. remake, but the producers of Fox’s “Gracepoint” are fairly confident their adaptation will stand on its own — mostly because they believe that many American viewers aren’t even aware of the original.

“[BBC America’s] viewing audience for ‘Broadchurch’ represents really, truly less than one percent of the American television viewing population. We’re not particularly worried about the overlap,” said executive producer Carolyn Bernstein at the Television Critics Assn. press tour Sunday. “We think those people who do overlap will be really into it and really enjoy the show.”

“My mom is right down the alley of the BBC America audience, and she started watching it, and she’s like, ‘I can’t understand a word they’re saying,'” agreed EP Dan Futterman. “And I think that was a common experience… There are some devoted viewers and cultured viewers who watched that whole show and loved it. We watched the whole show and loved it.”

A critic who has seen the first two episodes of “Gracepoint” noted that the show replicates “Broadchurch’s” first two installments almost beat for beat, without offering much in the way of originality.

“We did consider different starting places, different ideas for the first episode,” Bernstein conceded. “I think we kept coming back to [the first episode of ‘Broadchurch’], not shot for shot, but the way that the story was told was so well done that why would we contort ourselves to figure out a different way to tell the story, when that was the smartest, most compelling way to launch this particular story?”

The producer did promise that “as the series progresses, it really diverges in pretty big large ways from the original. But particularly in that first episode, it felt like the smartest, best launching pad. We didn’t want to try to fix something that we all thought was excellent.”

“It’s going to start to change very, very rapidly. I think by the third and fourth episodes, you see very, very great detours, and it also reverts to form as well, because the genetics of the show are powerful, and they’re successfully powerful,” Futterman added. “But we deviated as much as we wanted to and as much as we could while still trying to tell this beautiful story that has a beginning and now a different ending.”

While the EPs wouldn’t definitively confirm that “Gracepoint” features a different killer than the perpetrator in “Broadchurch,” Futterman told critics that his chief desire was, “I don’t want you to rule anybody out. That’s not to be coy, but I don’t think you should rule anybody out as a suspect. We end in a very different place, which is both exciting for the season and potentially exciting for what could be a great second season as well.”

The show also employed a legal adviser and a police adviser on set to keep the show accurate to its new Northern California setting, but Futterman admitted that the differences in police procedure weren’t as marked as one might think: “There is an ability of a suspect to either waive their rights or not waive their rights, and you see that in the interview rooms. And so the investigations of the various suspects can have a similar flavor, although the suspects become more different in the show.”

“Broadchurch” star David Tennant is also reprising his role for “Gracepoint,” albeit under a different character name and alongside a different co-star (Anna Gunn instead of Olivia Colman).

“What I can’t get enough of is good writing, you see,” Tennant reasoned. “And when it’s this good, you think, ‘Well, if they want me to be part of it, I’m not going to say no.’ It’s always a gamble on any new project, but if you can start with a good script, then why not? You can mess up a good script, but you can’t make a bad script much better. So I’m just happy to go where the good writing is, which has been ‘Broadchurch’ and now ‘Gracepoint’ and now ‘Broadchurch’ again [for season two]. If the writing keeps being as good as it’s been so far, then I’ll keep turning up.”

As for whether there are any real differences between “Broadchurch’s” Alec Hardy and “Gracepoint’s” Emmett Carver, Tennant offered, “They feel very different to me. Obviously, they both look quite like me, and they’re similar heights. But they feel different for all sorts of reasons, because of the circumstances of everyone around me. You’re playing opposite this extraordinary Rolls-Royce of a cast. I’m also very fortunate to play with a Rolls-Royce of a cast back home, but it’s a very different one and that creates a different set of circumstances to be within. It’s such an unusual situation. It’s quite hard to be entirely objective about it myself because it’s the same character and yet it’s not.”

He continued, “The relationship between Carver and Ellie Miller is very different to the relationship between Hardy and Ellie Miller, because they are very different actresses playing those parts, even though they have similar starting points. And I think that’s true right through, working with all these extraordinary people as well. And the spine of the story is the same, and the spine of the two characters is the same, but there’s very different flesh on the bones, I think.”

In the case of adaptations done well, Tennant pointed to “The Office,” noting, “it was brilliantly reimagined over here and started very similar and ultimately became a very different show, which was equally successful in a very different direction… There’s a lot of traffic back and forth culturally, and I think there’s huge advantages to that. Sometimes it backfires, but I think we can bring contrasting sensibilities to the same piece of work and get something exciting and new from it. I’m confident that’s what happened here.”

“Gracepoint” will premiere on Oct. 2 on Fox.

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  1. Linus Wenell says:

    What’s so hard to understand about English..?

  2. Steve Markman says:

    In 2014 we heard about a new show, Gracepoint. We watched it and as a whole we loved it and wanted more of the writing and wonderful cast. We had never heard of Broadchurch until I checked BBC America and saw it listed. When I read about it I thought it sounded just like what Gracepoint Season 2 would be like. So we saved up Season 2 and just binge watched it. All I can say is Wow! Even having difficulty with some of the accents at times (minimal) we thought it was superb and are wishing for a Season 3. With a mended heart DI Hardy should have a long career.

    As for BBC America, I simply cannot understand stuffing the bandwidth with American series like Star Trek and hiding British Gems. Do they not advertise? If I did not go out of my way to look at the listings I would never have known about Broadchurch. I’d rather see infinite reruns of the Vicar of Dibley than Star Trek.

    Anyway, Bravo to Gracepoint and Broadchurch. Keep David Tennant coming to America with great actresses (like Anna Gunn and Olivia Colman if not both again)…please.

  3. Karen L. Demmy says:

    I watched GRACEPOINT twice and just loved it so much. I had never heard of BROADCHURCH and so I happened to see BROADCHURCH Season 2 on BBC and was so excited, thinking it would be the American Cast (duh!). Oh boy was I wrong, I am watching but have to read along the Closed Caption the entire time because I understand very little of the “English”! It’s confusing as well because of the characters being portrayed by different actors (except, of course, for one). I wish so much GRACEPOINT would have a Season 2 with the American actors!! Any chance?

  4. Linda Thomas says:

    I watched the entire series of Broadchurch. Thought it was excellent. Had started watching Gracepoint but didn’t care much for it. Glad I didn’t finish if the ending is different. The great thing about Broadchurch was the ending; totally unpredictable!

  5. Lakshmi Fjord says:

    Why does Fox think that American audiences didn’t watch Broadchurch?! Those days are over, producers. We do know what is going on outside our borders with TV and movies. Please give work to people with new ideas. You can always cast David Tennant if you want.

  6. dman6015 says:

    The producers lied about Gracepoint diverging dramatically from Broadchurch after the second episode. Sure, the dialogue differed, and it wasn’t exactly shot-for-shot, but the plot followed Broadchurch exactly, right down to the final episode.

  7. Patricia Condon says:

    I loved Broadchurch but had great difficultly understanding the accent. I love Gracepoint even more cause I can actually follow it—I am sad that it will be cancelled after this season.

  8. Holly says:

    Broadchurch was brilliant, I could not turn off the DVD. It was gritty and imperfect. The actors were not underweight, airbrushed, orange or glossy, how refreshing, and looked people who may live on my street. No frozen foreheads, filled lips, hollowed cheeks or watermelon chests in sight. As a Minnesota farm girl born and raised, I had no problem understanding any of the dialogue. There were some local terms I was unfamiliar with so I googled them. Am anxious to see what happens with Gracepoint.

  9. Harriet Ross says:

    To justify a remake on the grounds that A few American viewers are unable to understand the Brit accents in the original is feeble beyond belief. Can people be so provincial? If they have problems with accents, they should travel outside the USA, where all the rest of the world has been dealing with American accents for 50 years. We coped well. I Think that too many American tastes are pandered to in a really feeble, up imaginative way.

    • mary rose says:

      It’s true many people cannot understand it(or at least some of it). I know so many people who say they have the close captioning on, so they can understand it. Part of it I think is the slang. Part is how strong the accent can be. Think of the southern accent. Depending on different parts of the south, the accents can be quite strong.

  10. J Clark says:

    Geez louise.

    I am going to stop following links from Twitter, or stop reading comments, because… ding dang doodles, everytime I do, my faith in humanity slips just a wee bit more.

    There are a couple of things, though, that I must address.

    First, why remake Broadchurch? Why on earth not?? Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and the Brits and the Yanks have been flattering each other like this forever. Do we really have to snipe and snark and second-guess everything about Gracepoint before it has even aired?? Ridiculous.

    I had the opportunity to see “Broadchurch” on ITV and on BBCAmerica. Personally, I felt that the cuts made by BBCAm to accomodate censors and sponsors was just short of criminal. I’m very hopeful that the Americanized “Gracepoint” (with its two extra episodes) will smooth out the choppiness, and will reincorporate what I believed were very important moments in the original version.

    Or not, considering that the story is going to deviate from the original. There will possibly (probably?) be a different killer. There will be additional characters (Carver’s daughter, maybe?). There will be guns. (Of course, there will be. This is ‘Murica. And FOX.) It’s been said over and over again, but I’ll say it one more time for the slow learners: The first two episodes are almost direct copies. Beyond that, we don’t know.

    Second, somewhere down in the dogpile of commentary are several attacks on David Tennant. Eh, he’s a public figure and it comes with the territory, and haters gonna hate, and trolls are going to crawl out from under the bridges and get their jollies by seeing how many people will bite, but I will address one particular comment. Alison Clarkson, I do feel compelled to respond to your dismissive attitude toward Mr. Tennant’s career. I would list everything the man has done, and include his many philanthropic activities, but I’ll just include this link to his IMDB page. (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0855039/) And IMDB doesn’t list his extensive theatre work, the massive amounts of audio work he does… Pretty much, he’s just about the hardest working man in entertainment today and, by all accounts from those who work and have worked with him, just a heckuva nice guy who is also possessed with a hellacious work ethic.

    Oh, the horrors. By all means, lets keep him away from Hollywood. He might have a positive influence on the many there who waste their talents and clutter up the gossip rags with epic personal crash/burns. *rolls eyes*

    Yeah, bring it on, FOX and “Gracepoint”. Personally, I can’t wait!

  11. Anglophile says:

    I just think it’s sad that American media so underestimates the American public by believing it needs to “dumb down” international programs. I watched the original and loved it; as a matter of fact, I love most British television – for its acting, stories, etc. It’s high quality on its own. Why do the media believe an American viewer needs to see a story with American accents? Are we truly that narrow-minded? Perhaps if more Americans had more exposure to international productions, we’d enjoy them on their own merits. As it is, we only have two real outlets for British television on mainstream cable – PBS and BBC America. I’ll be watching Gracepoint because I love David Tennant as an actor and because I’m curious how they adapt this story, but it’s a shame they felt they needed to “adapt it” at all. Also….at the very least, couldn’t Tennant had changed his hair? Little things like that (and the scenes they show in the ads) are bad signs that this may be a complete copy, detail for detail.

    • HannahB says:

      Agree Anglophile. Despite the strong statements by Fox that it is a different show, the recent trailer just underlines the similarities. The fish and chips scene now has wraps (California, hey!) but the way the scenes are blocked and even the way Tennant moves and reacts are precisely the same. The hair is weird though. In the trail, it’s very obviously colored which makes it look fake and plastered oddly to his head. I stll think taking Tennant as the lead is the big stumbling block with this. Putting aside the uncertainty about how the role was cast and his capabilities as an actor, it is distracting making his look and performance exactly the same. Why not be clean shaven? A bit of red hair dye poorly applied is hardly going to allow the viewer to differentiate the two roles when it is the same actor, same lines and same performance. Shame as this could have worked with a bit more effort and imagination from FOX.

      Blind acceptance of this project and FOX’s hype and PR is just as bad as blind dismissal. Let’s see how it goes but I know where I woukd place my bets + it’s in an unwinnable slot so this may end up being the reaso for any poor ratings.

  12. And the ignorant come to snipe at something they’re too narrow-minded to grasp. Gracepoint will be brilliant. Chibnall is not an idiot, he’s a fine writer and as stated elsewhere, this variation was always there, they just took this route with it. Google, folks, do you use it? Tennant will be a huge hit here, his works last year solidified that. Anyone that says he hasn’t done fantastic work since he left DW is one of those DW fans shut away in their little fan-cave that can’t see past the end of their nose. Tennant has proven again and again his talent is massive as well as his appeal. And guess what? If they wanted to buy BC and run it, they would have, it was considered. This way we get another telling with a different ending and I’m glad since I practically have Broadchurch memorized by now.

  13. Do people imagine that the same writers and directors that did episodes of both Broadchurch and Breaking Bad suddenly forgot how to write and direct when they took on Gracepoint?

  14. Lynda Day says:

    It’s ridiculous that one of the best reasons the US producers can make for creating a new series are that US viewers wouldn’t know Broadchurch existed. Well… er… why not buy it and put it on US TV? Problem solved. Cheaper, too. Making a whole new series like this was patently stupid.

  15. mherr says:

    To add another turn to this tale, very interesting comments from ínsiders’ at TCA that Tennant did a deal that he be cast in Gracepoint in return for appearing back in Britain for Broadchurch 2. Presumably as he is a well known name there, this leverage would be fairly solid. (He sought and got first refusal from the British producers to be cast in the same role if an American version got picked up). So that would mean that Fox had to take him for the part in order to get rights to the US remake, rather than them specifically seeking him out because he would be the best casting. Adds another layer to the all of the BS and puffing going on at the Fox TCA about this project and why critics are so sceptical about all of this.

  16. Calabash says:

    Who are these people who can’t understand various British accents? If “Broadchurch” had been set in Glasgow, sure, then I could see it. But every single one of these actors was perfectly comprehensible from the first moment. The only way any native or fluent speaker of English couldn’t follow it would be if they weren’t really paying attention. Or do we now insist on TV we don’t have to be fully awake for?

    I’m not as willing to dismiss remakes out of hand. There have been many disastrous blunders, yes — but occasionally a remake finds its own creative energy and stands on its own. “The Office” eventually found a voice inspired by, but separate from, the brilliant original, for instance — and how many people remember that “All in the Family” was a remake of a British show? It’s possible to take a core concept and give it a unique twist. That said – I have no idea how they’re going to do it here.

  17. Bob James says:

    What a bunch of piffle and shit rationale excuses for this obvious cash grab on Chris Chibnall’s and David Tennant’s part. If you’re inclined to greed and avarice at least be honest about it. I think this will go down as a mistake that marks the careers of both of them.

    • Caseam says:

      I love love love accents and enjoyed both versions (although a heartbreaker story)…

    • emmadale says:

      Oh, I think the artistic credibility bird has long flown for David Tennant. It certainly left for good when he sold out to Richard Branson for the million or so he must be making for those lousy Virgin advertisements……..

    • Alison Clarkson says:

      While no one doubts this will be a big and expensive failure for Fox – the only question is probably how many episodes are aired in prime time before the remaining episodes are relegated to late night/early morning (Fox are contractually obligated to show all of the ten episodes). Word suggests that this show will be done by episode four at most and pulled at that stage.

      I’d be inclined to be slightly more generous about motivation for the creatives. The lure of good money as well as exposure in the larger television market will continue to bring big fish from the smaller British pond to the US. Some, such as Michael Sheen, Hugh Laurie and most recently, Martin Freeman, excel through talent and good luck and timing in the projects they select. Others, such as David Tennant, continue to fail. One imagines that this will be his last attempt at ‘breaking’ into American television and it would be highly unlikely that any network would again take a chance on casting him, nothwithstanding his so-called ‘national treasure’ status in England (one of a number of blow hard statements made at the Fox TCA, although not as wince-inducing as the assertion that Tennant’s American accent is impeccable). I understand that Broadchurch apart, Tennant’s career in Britain has largely stalled since he left Dr Who, which may add to a greater sense of urgency in giving the USA one last try. It certainly makes sense to grab the money if it is offered to you.

      Similarly, there is no reason why Chris Chibnall would not wish to take up a rare opportunity to showcase his writing to a wider audience. I wouldn’t think the failure of Gracepoint would harm his future chances here in the same way that this will probably finish Tennant’s, simply because writers have lower visibility in failed projects. The casting of Tennant will be one of the main reasons cited for the failure of the project and based on some of the risible reporting in British newspapers I found from earlier this year when the first clips of his American accent were released, he will be highly criticised and humiliated in his own country. (It is worth checking these out – it does give a sense of perspective as to how much more aggressive and personal this kind of reporting is across the Pond). I think Fox will also fall back on blaming past management decisions in greenlighting this project, perhaps acknowledging that it was underprepared and poorly positioned and there was a lapse in judgement in cleaving so closely to the original.

      One hopes that this sad embarrassing mess will fade quietly for the sake of all concerned, although it will no doubt be trotted out in future as a exemplar of how to ham-fistedly botch a remake which could have been a success.

      • aruka says:

        “and based on some of the risible reporting in British newspapers I found from earlier this year when the first clips of his American accent were released, he will be highly criticised and humiliated in his own country. ” Since when British are experts of american accents ? Tried to give a sense to this comment but the only thing I would like to suggest is that I think you are grown-up enough to be aware there is a great difference between a honest, constructive critic and a hate campaign on a specific person (In this case mr Tennant) made by offences, slanders, lies (the supposed “failed “career after DW, the supposed kind friends) spreading such rubbish on line. These comment is similar to many others I found on different papers, apparently made by different people, but the comments are all lookalike as if posted by the same person. Coincidence?

      • How absurd is this? Tennant’s career stalled after Doctor Who? In 2013 alone he did over six months of sold out performances of Richard II, Politician’s Husband, Escape Artist, Broadchurch, and Spies of Warsaw … The list is pretty long for someone with a “stalled career”…

  18. Alison Clarkson says:

    While this project in undoubtedly heading for failure, with a few tweaks and better thought Fox could have made this into a reasonable ratings success. The main problems are 1. Failing to reimagine the project, rsther than copying the opening episodes word for word and scene for scene 2. Keeping Tennant in the lead role. While I understand that this was part of the deal for Fox to take the project (Mr Tennant has kind friends!), it has led to major distractions and only drawn more attention to the parent program. 3. Casting Mr Tennant or any non-American actor who doesn’t have a solid American accent under their belt. It was highly amusing watching Fox executives insist that his very wobbly accent was better than just barely passable. 4. Putting out an extremely dull trail which would struggle to entice the standard Fox viewer 5. Failure to market or target this. Is it supposed to only appeal to people who saw the original? They won’t last 10 whole long episodes. 6. Way too long – the original was too long even after being cut to shreds by BBC America to leverage more commercials. 7. Belief that prestige event TV can be bought off the supermarket shelf. The original was solid fare but hardly in the league of True Detective, Fargo, House of Cards etc, etc. American TV has better casts, scripts, photography, story lines and dialogue than anything showing in Britain. This reverse snobbery of thinking that just because it is Brotish, it must be good is ludicrous. 8. Bad timeslot. Gonna get murdered by the opposition and this is the kind of programme that requires dedication from the first episode 9. Bad buzz had pretty well alteady killed this. I am only seeing negative or lukewarm reaction from those who have seen the two openers. Critics who rooted for Broadchurch last year are the most damning. 10. See reasons 1 to 9 above. A great big embarrasing clunker which Fox will be keen to quickly bury and hopefully will learn from in future endeavours. A real pity because this could have bern good with more effort and less grab the money and run approach!

    • Kevin says:

      You seem to misunderstand: Tennant is much more interested in theater than TV, so of course he’s been slower than usual. That being said, he’s not been slow at all. He’s been putting out show after movie after play, and you know what? If you don’t have your head shoved up your ass, they’re actually all pretty damn good. He’s probably just different kind of actor than you’re used to; a good one. I don’t know why you long so sincerely for this shows failure, but considering it’s been on a month now and is almost over, Gracepoint hasn’t flopped. It’s quite popular, in fact. Now, go out and do some research before your next attempt to bash an actor who works harder than any actor I can think of in the US. I’ve been following Tennant for a while, and I’ve never seen somebody so popular who is also so happy to do what he does. Also, Britain wouldn’t have such a reputation for it’s high quality television if it wasn’t true, in the same fashion that Americans wouldn’t have a reputation for being fat, greedy, undereducated racists if we hadn’t given people reason to think so.

    • Susan says:

      You do know House of Cards is a remake of a British show don’t you!!!!

  19. Don Benn says:

    I have to admit that it did take me awhile to adjust my ear(s) to the dialect (which I feel is a fair observation). What I didn’t have to adjust to was the high quality of the acting and story telling. I’m actually looking forward to the Fox version (even though the promos look like a shot for shot word for word copy of the original). Here’s the difference between myself and a lot of other folks…….when I turn into a new show I do so because I actually want to enjoy it…..not knock it……and with the limited time I have for tv (and in general)…..boy do I want to enjoy Gracepoint.

  20. John says:

    American TV producers who watch really briliant British TV shows and then decide to turn them into really mediocre American TV shows are nothing more than lazy rip-off artists eager to make an easy paycheck. And to the producer whose mother couldn’t “understand a word they’re saying,” you should have done us all a big favor and introduced her to closed-captioning. “Gracepoint” is going to be an unmitigated disaster for the viewers. But you’ll all get paid obscene bucks and feed your idiotic egos, and that’s really all that matters in the everlasting con game that is Hollywood. And I don’t blame David Tennant for taking the money and running with it. At least HE was responsible for helping make the original great to begin with, so he’s actually done something worthwhile.

    • Caseam says:

      DON BENN – Bravo WELL SAID !! I am an American that enjoyed David in both versions. The story is heartbreaking – the acting is excellent ! Americans do NOT think David is ‘washed up’ at all… in fact we are just starting to really like him ! In part , Tha
      nks to Gracepoint – so THERE haters !

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