TV Review: ‘Gracepoint’

Gracepoint Season Finale TV Review Fox

Fox’s “Gracepoint” is a near shot-for-shot remake of British drama “Broadchurch,” albeit served up in 10 episodes instead of eight. That’s not a bad idea, especially for the millions who haven’t seen the U.K. version, but it does make it harder to appraise this crime mystery strictly on its merits, even if the producers say they won’t rigidly follow the original, including (from this quadrant, anyway) its disappointing conclusion. “Broadchurch” rightly generated critical accolades, and its American twin is serious and spare. That said, this limited series doesn’t look like the answer to Fox’s Thursday woes.

David Tennant — adopting, for those familiar with him, a Yankee accent that takes some serious getting used to — reprises his role as the outsider detective investigating a young boy’s murder in a small beachside town, with “Breaking Bad’s” Anna Gunn as his partner, who is deeply rooted in the community.

The killing unlocks a web of secrets, all lurking just beneath the surface. One red herring after another arises, casting suspicion upon friends, neighbors and even family members.

“We don’t typically see crimes like this,” one of the cops says, surely an understatement given how overwhelmed the principals are by the flood of attention and anxiety, which includes an unprincipled reporter (Jessica Lucas) — and really, is there any other kind on TV? — hoping to exploit the case.

Virginia Kull and Michael Pena play the grieving parents, although dad can’t address his whereabouts at the time of the murder; and Nick Nolte is a grizzled neighbor (a part originally played by “The Strain’s” David Bradley) who had worked with local boys.

Building toward a conclusion, “Broadchurch” milked these relationships just enough, and resolved them in a way that British drama can. The U.S. version will follow a similar template, but with a follow-up already in the works overseas, the goal obviously would be to continue the franchise in success.

A broader problem is that what felt like a fresh take when “Broadchurch” premiered on BBC America has become somewhat played out lately, with several shows — among them ABC’s upcoming “Secrets & Lies” — using a small-town murder as the catalyst to a broader drama.

None of that is “Gracepoint’s” fault, but it does speak to one of the dangers of such adaptations: Not only do you lose part of the impact among those who watched the original, but you trail far enough behind it to allow the inevitable clones to creep into the equation. And unlike the old days, plenty of fine imports are readily available to feed the appetite of programming-hungry channels and streaming services. That makes eliminating the accents seem like not such a big deal, and the very idea of a U.S. version slightly superfluous.

Setting those not-inconsequential considerations aside, the series — adapted by Anya Epstein and Dan Futterman, with a premiere written by “Broadchurch” creator Chris Chibnall — is competently executed (and Fox is clearly proud of it, having made seven episodes available), with Gunn finding a reasonably juicy follow-up to the role of a lifetime. Those who get started, moreover, should want to stay and see how the mystery plays out.

Yet while it’s hard to pinpoint, “Gracepoint” can’t help but feel as if something significant has been lost in translation.

TV Review: 'Gracepoint'

(Series; Fox, Thurs. Oct. 2, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Vancouver by Shine America, Kudos and Imaginary Friends.

Crew

Executive producers, Anya Epstein, Dan Futterman, Chris Chibnall, Carolyn G. Bernstein, Jane Featherstone, John Goldwyn; producer, Arvi Liimatainen; director, James Strong; writer, Chibnall, based on the series he created; camera, John Grillo; production designer, David Willson; editor, David Ray; music, Marty Beller; casting, Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein, Corinne Clark, Jennifer Page. 60 MIN.

Cast

David Tennant, Anna Gunn, Michael Pena, Virginia Kull, Nick Nolte, Jacki Weaver, Josh Hamilton, Kevin Rankin, Kevin Zegers, Jessica Lucas, Stephen Louis Grush, Madalyn Horcher, Sarah-Jane Potts, Jack Irvine, Kendrick Sampson

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  1. Marie says:

    I have tried to get into Gracepoint, and I’ve seen Broadchurch, which I loved….but Gracepoint seems to be stagnate, anticlimactic, less cinematic, and just boring. One of the reasons I loved Broadchurch, and I had to think about it, was the town served as a character itself, the small town feel, where darkness lurked. The casting seems off, there is no chemistry. David Tennant whom I loved as Dr. Who, and the original mini-series has less of an on screen presence, one that is less dramatic, and seems forced. He doesn’t make his character seem believable. Unfortunately while Broadchurch was brilliant, Gracepoint, is sub-standard; another reason why Americans shouldn’t do a remake of any U.K. series.

  2. Patricia Money says:

    Broadchurch seemed to have had a more lyrical feel to it’s story progression. The way it was edited had more intercutting of the story so that story beats unfolded from multiple pov’s. This kept the story moving forward, leaving time for developing over all mood of each episode. Broadchurch also has a different feel in terms of the over all visual esthetic; everything from the way they used the slow motion, lens flairs, and camera framing, it all had a beautiful feel to it. They use the music score differently too, it’s integral to how the beats of the story unfolds. It’s a really beautifully put together program. Gracepoint just doesn’t have the same elegance.

  3. DV says:

    I adore Broadchurch and am looking forward to Gracepoint. The killer/ending is different, Carver has a slightly different personality, plot divergence starting with episode 3, characters are more in-depth and there’s material that wasn’t included in the source material.I feel sorry for those who lack the imagination or vision to understand that a story can be retold many times and still be good. I wonder how many of you will complain about the French remake? Because if you don’t, then you’re just narrow minded hypocrites.

  4. nan00se says:

    I had mixed feelings about the way the leads were portrayed in the UK version and hope they changed the female lead to someone who at least tries to portray the character as someone who seems capable of being a police detective, Also if certain bits of dialogue has not been changed the killer becomes increasingly obvious.
    Now if they want something really interesting the BBC’s The Honourable Woman with Maggie Gyllenhaal was epic.

  5. rocky-o says:

    i loved ‘broadchurch’, (don’t think we need an american version), but by the writer stating what an original idea it was, the fact that they used a small town murder as a catalyst for the rest of the drama, it clearly shows he has forgotten the one that all else are compared to..twin peaks…

  6. Paul lane says:

    Like Fox TV remake of Doctor Who with Paul Gann.that lasted for.. 1 episode.

  7. dunstan says:

    I enjoyed “Broadchurch” a lot; no reason to tune into Fox’s version.

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