Review: Gracepoint

Normally I don’t put my recommendation in the review until I get to the end however in the case of the new Fox network miniseries “Gracepoint” I’m starting out saying it is rated “I Really like It” which is my second-highest rating behind “Must-See”. The reason I can be so confident about the show after seeing just one episode of the 10 hour miniseries is that I’ve already seen it before. Know the studios finally have not noticed my blog and started sending the screeners in advance (although I wish they would). This show is based on a BBC series titled “Broadchurch” which I have seen on BBC America.

The story is a murder mystery that begins when a 12-year-old boy is found dead on a beach at the bottom of the cliff in a small seaside town in northern California/England (depending on which version you seen). The detective investigating the crime is played by David Tennant/David Tennant. Yes that’s right, they cast the same famous British actor and former Doctor Who in the same part in both miniseries. However in this one he has to pull off an American accent. He does a much better job than his former Doctor Who co-star Karen Gillan and her new American sitcom Selfie. Tenants character, Detective Emmett Carver, has just joined the Gracepoint Police Department taking a job that had been previously promised as a promotion to Detective Ellie Miller played by Anna Gunn you may recognize from 62 episodes of Breaking Bad down 20 where she played Skyler White. Her son is the best friend of the victim. She knows the parents of the murdered boy well. In fact everyone seems to know everyone else in the small town.

I’ve only seen the first episode of the American version and although I’ve not compared it side-by-side scene-for-scene or sentence-by-sentence with the British version, I can tell you that every plot point in this opening episode is identical to the British version. Just as important as the plot is the overall quality of the acting, the casting, and the basic mood of the entire piece is of the same high quality as the British version.

I recommend that you try to catch the first episode in a rerun if there are any or on demand. Of course with the death of a child, it is naturally going to be a real tearjerker. The typical stuff such as a mother coming up to the crime scene screaming for her kid and the cops having to drag her away. Especially well done was the scene between the female detective and her 12-year-old son where she has to tell him that his best friend was found dead. And then the creepiness of the fact that the kid gets out his cell phone, deletes every text message from the dead kid, and then reformats the hard drive of his computer! What is that about? That’s just one of many plot twists you’re going to encounter along the way along with some creepy characters such as the local preacher, local motel owner, and a very creepy guy who rents kayaks and bicycles to tourists actually played by Nick Nolte in this version.

It’s not unusual, especially this season, to have an American remake of a foreign TV series. We’ve already reviewed Red Band Society and The Mysteries of Laura both of which were based on TV series from Spain. Similarly The Bridge and The Killing are based on series from Scandinavia. But in all of those examples the original show within a different language that to my knowledge was never released here in the US. SyFy Channel made a version of Being Human based on the BBC series of the same name but it was an episodic series with only minimal continuing plot lines. They made the American version significantly different enough that Bush right and the actors portrayed it in their own unique ways that they really were different series simply with the same premise. But when I first heard they were going to do a remake of an English-language show that had already been seen here in the US on BBC America Channel on cable, it made me wonder why didn’t they just buy the rights to show the British version? What about a California setting and a lack of British accents was going to bring something new and different to the show? So far the answer is it hasn’t changed anything. But considering how well done the original one was, I guess it’s just an opportunity to bring this amazing story to a wider audience on broadcast TV. For those like me who have already seen Broadchurch, we will watch Gracepoint just to see if it’s any different and to see if they change who the murderer is. And it’s an opportunity to relive a really great series. For the rest of you, bring your handkerchief and prepare to cry from time to time. But hold on to your seat because there are plot twists and you won’t know who did it till near the very end. A wonderful murder mystery that will wrap up well in 10 episodes.

Again my rating is “I Love It” and if you love a good mystery you will too.

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