Television: Gracepoint 1.1

I'll admit I had mixed feelings about seeing Broadchurch—which I still consider some of the best television in recent years, along with the first season of True Detective—being transplanted to the U.S. in the form of Gracepoint. On one hand, I knew Gracepoint could not possibly be as good, if only because it wouldn't be the first time I'd heard the story. Yes, yes, say all you like that this will be different, but Broadchurch is near perfect, so changing it wouldn't make it better. Then again, on the other hand, more David Tennant? Hooray!

As a "native plant," Broadchurch is simply beautiful . . . When replanted in foreign soil it suffers from a bit of shock. I had read that the first two episodes of Gracepoint would be pretty much exactly the same as the first two of Broadchurch, and that after that there would be differences. Well, okay. But somehow Gracepoint failed to capture all the tonal qualities that make Broadchurch amazing. (And I don't just mean Tennant's accent.)

For one thing, Ellie's character here is a bit more whiney, less strong. I don't feel the grudging admiration building between her and Carver as I did with her and Hardy in Broadchurch. Maybe that will come later, but there was definitely more chemistry between the characters in Broadchurch earlier on.

I'm not loving the guy playing Danny's dad either. Sorry. Nice diversity, but he seems far less nuanced to me than the Broadchurch version.

Of course, one could scream at me, "But take Gracepoint on its own merits! Don't compare!" How can one help comparing? For once this is apples to apples in television.

Okay, let's just look at Gracepoint on its own. There's something a bit flat and perfunctory about it. Maybe that's intentional, to show the way police gather facts and must navigate high emotions while remaining objective themselves. But the whole, "Did you get a chance to think about that raise?" thing is so in-your-face. There's so little subtlety to it, which takes away from what could be, should be atmospheric.

And that opening shot with all the residents made me think of Twin Peaks. But Gracepoint shouldn't be going for that, I don't think.

And . . . I love David Tennant. I really do. But here he seems to be doing his best David Duchovny impression. Plus, he seemed bored. Maybe because he's done it before?

As for the accent . . . I know a lot of people were poking fun at it. Tennant seemed to have a few techniques. There was the throaty thing he would do, at which point he could pass as American. There was the flat sort of speech people were saying sounded like Steve Buscemi. And then, every now and then, particularly when he had to speak rapidly, that hint of burr would sneak out. I thought it was kind of cute.

I don't know. I'm going to watch Gracepoint in any case; the question is really how much I'm going to enjoy it. I am curious about the fact it is ten episodes long rather than eight like Broadchurch. And I've been promised a different ending, so . . . Kind of like the movie version of Clue? But probably a lot less funny.


Christine Rains said...

I adore David Tennant too, but I passed on this one. The commercials didn't catch my attention other than it being Tennant. This is probably a good thing because I have enough shows to watch as it is!

M said...

If you're going to watch anything, make it Broadchurch instead. It was amazing!