Read nearly anyreview of Fox’s new mystery thriller “Gracepoint”— an adaptation of BBC hit “Broadchurch”— and critics will say they’re essentially the same show, suggesting the American version is an unnecessary remake.
The 10-episode miniseries pairs David Tennant (“Doctor Who”), who also starred in the UK series, with Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) as detectives trying to solve the murder of a young boy in a small town.
On a recent conference call with Tennant, the actor described how Fox’s version of “Broadchurch” is different than the BBC hit.
“There are bits of plot; there are some characters in ‘Gracepoint’ that no equivalent existed for in ‘Broadchurch,’“ explained Tennant. “It didn’t really feel like a repetition, it just felt like you were telling a story that was familiar, but there were enough differences.”
If you’re familiar with the British version of the series, “Broadchurch,” and tuned into the series premiere Thursday evening you noticed the two shows are nearly identical, not only in characters but also dialogue.
Perhaps the biggest difference was the omission of a great line from the UK version where Tennant yells “Bloody Twitter” while expressing his frustration with the social media site in leaking news.
“I think at times there are some scenes that are very similar to ‘Broadchurch,’‘” Tennant added. “There are others where even though the words can be very similar at times, they play very differently. That was continually surprising for me being part of it. I don’t suppose it would have ever been any other way really.”
An opening scene from “Broadchurch” shows a young mother running toward the beach as she hears a body has been found on the shoreline.
Here’s how that scene looks on “Gracepoint.” Notice that while Fox’s version is darker that even the colour of the cars in the background is the same.
Here’s one more scene showing how both Olivia Colman (“Broadchurch”) and Anna Gunn (“Gracepoint”) react in a similar scene from episode one.
“Gracepoint” is supposed to deviate from the British series in episode 7. While “Broadchurch” has eight episodes “Gracepoint” will have 10 giving the show a chance to explore more character stories and to change the killer.
After recently binge-watching “Broadchurch,” an excellent miniseries worth a watch, it’s difficult to imagine seeing another ending that would really knock your socks off the way the BBC does in its final two episodes.
“Gracepoint” executive producer Carolyn Bernstein doesn’t think the repetitiveness should be a problem for viewers. Bernstein told NPR BBC America’s “Broadchurch” audience “represents really, truly less than 1 per cent of the American television viewing population.”
Of course, that may mean nothing to a streaming culture that seems readily more interested in BBC shows. This year, British series “Doctor Who” saw an uptick in American viewers upon its season 8 premiere. Benedict Cumberbatch recently won an Emmy for his BBC series “Sherlock.” Similar to those two shows, “Broadchurch” is available to stream on venues such as Amazon Prime.
Still Tennant says one reason to tune into “Gracepoint” is for the cast. Not only does two-time Emmy-winning actress Anna Gunn star, but the show also has a strong cast in Michael Peña, Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook”), and even Nick Nolte.
Similarly, “Broadchurch” had a big cast with another “Doctor Who” actor Arthur Darvill, David Bradley (“Harry Potter” films), and Olivia Colman (“Hot Fuzz,” “Iron Lady”).
“Because it’s such a well written piece, I think both times, in the UK and in America, we attracted Rolls-Royce of casts, and therefore whenever you go to play a scene with people that are that good, something exciting is going to happen,” said Tennant. “That, I think, happened in every episode and every scene. That’s the sort of thing you dream of when you leave drama school. These are the kind of jobs you fantasize about.”
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