“Broadchurch” was one of those fantastic British crime dramas (broadcast here on BBC America, there on ITV) that make you roll your eyes at tired formula stuff like “Law & Order: SVU” before the grab the remote. With David Tennant (“Dr. Who”) at the helm, it was sharp, heartbreaking and both emotional (without sappiness) and a legitimate whodunnit. So, of course, the U.S. had to remake it almost immediately.
I never understand this impulse. Remaking old black-and-white movies? Okay, fine, modern audiences like their color. Foreign films? Americans don't dig subtitles. But an English-language series from 2013? What, we have to be able to identify the streets? English accents are too much for us (okay, sometimes they are if they're really thick and/or Scottish)? Yes, the show is more likely to reach a broader audience this way. But it's also more likely to turn into a piece of crap.
Still, I'll be giving “Gracepoint” a chance. Here are my five reasons why.
1) If David Tennant is willing to do an American accent, we can at least tune in.
The fact that the show will be featuring the same star, this time with an American accent, is completely surprising and wonderful all at once. It tells me a few things. One, Tennant believes in the project so much he's willing to take a risk (I'm not going to believe he does anything this grueling for a massive paycheck, so there). Two, it guarantees at least one thing — the lead performance will be spot on. From the trailer it seems his American accent is pretty good. I'm not going to quibble about some weird vowel sounds. This is Tennant, people.
2) Anna Gunn can do anything.
She won an Emmy for playing Skyler White in “Breaking Bad,” and we know from that show there's absolutely no nuance she can't handle, even when super fans have lost their minds and are calling for her head (that happened). Olivia Colman's footsteps aren't easy ones to step into, but I suspect Gunn will put her own, specific twist on the role — and we won't mind at all.
3) Some scenes are clearly recreated shot for shot – and the original writer and director are on board, too
In the trailer, there are some scenes that truly seem to have been ripped from “Broadchurch” with different actors wedged in. In the scene of the mother discovering the body, even the cliffside looks the same, though we know it couldn't be. Clearly, we're dealing with true fans of the show who are going to treat it with respect in giving it an American twist. Hopefully not too much respect (encasing “Broadchurch” in amber and changing the settings would be a waste of effort), but the fact that some critical moments will look familiar isn't a bad thing.
I have to suspect that having “Broadchurch” writer/creator Chris Chibnall and director James Strong on board has a lot to do with why the source material is being so lovingly handled. I'm pretty sure they won't mess up the American twist, either. Sure, Dan Futterman (“Capote”) is a co-showrunner, but he's pretty great, too.
4) Nick Nolte!
He may not be familiar to everyone, but this guy is a name for a reason. Anyone who can survive Barbra Streisand and get an Oscar nod out of it (“Prince of Tides”) is a tough character with serious chops. Hopefully “Gracepoint” will fare better than his last series outing, “Luck.”
5) The killer will not be the same this time.
As we learned in Dan's preview, the big reveal will not be the same — which will be critical for getting fans of “Broadchurch” to tune in. How they'll change the storyline is anyone's guess, but I'm curious enough to tune in for at least ten episodes — which is all I need to do (don't you love these short thrillers?).
Are you going to watch “Gracepoint”?