Main Cast: Olivia Colman, David Tennant

Creator: Chris Chibnall

I have a soft spot for British police procedurals. American ones, I’m fairly indifferent, but the Brits tend to have a style I enjoy. They also have incredible actors like David Tennant and Olivia Colman, so I was all in on Broadchurch.

Broadchurch ran for three seasons, from 2013-2017. Colman stars as Ellie Miller, a Detective Sergeant with the Broadchurch police. She has just returned from a holiday to discover that she has been passed over for a promotion and that a young boy’s body has been discovered on the beach of her small community.

It turns out that her new boss is DI Alec Hardy (Tennant). He is gruff, annoyed, bossy, sometimes rude, and generally unpleasant. He also took her job. It’s not a good start.

But the brutal murder of a child shakes the close-knit community and Ellie is determined to solve it, even if she has to work with the prickly DI Hardy.

This set-up brings us into the world of the small fictional British coastal town of Broadchurch. Throughout the three seasons, we learn a lot about the folks who live there and how they respond to this unusual violence in their quiet village.

The series revolves around the working relationship of DC Miller and DI Hardy. Whether that was the intention from the outset, I have no idea. But Colman and Tennant are huge talents and they make an outstanding dramatic team with just enough comic relief to keep the whole thing from getting too depressing. Their scenes, together and separately, are the heart of the show.

The rest of the cast is excellent, with quite a few supporting players appearing in all three seasons. Seeing them all grow and change is a big bonus on top of the well-produced crime drama.

Broadchurch also benefits from a gorgeous setting. The huge cliffs that dominate the seaside are both breathtaking and ominous. The showrunners did a great job making the town feel real. There are no weirdly extravagant homes or businesses that would never survive in the setting.

Despite being over 10 years old, Broadchurch does not feel dated. The isolated setting makes the town feel like it isn’t quite part of the rest of the world. The subject matter remains sadly topical and the series is so well written that it manages to avoid many of the traps that leave TV shows behind as time marches on.

I very much enjoyed all three seasons/series of Broadchurch. It’s intense and sad but so beautifully put together that any fan of police procedurals or crime dramas should give it a try.

I watched the first season on Amazon Prime Video and found the whole thing for free on the Roku Channel. I imagine that it will continue to hop from service to service, but it was originally broadcast by PBS in the U.S.

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