Fall TV 2014RecapReviewTV

Review: FOX’s ‘Gracepoint’ Too Similar To BBC’s ‘Broadchurch’

Maya Zach ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

David Tennant and Anna Gunn in the Gracepoint series premiere. Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/FOX.
David Tennant and Anna Gunn in the series premiere of Gracepoint. Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/FOX.

In late 2013, BBC network released Broadchurch, an incredibly dark 8-part murder mystery series. After an 11-year-old boy is murdered in a small town, every friend of the family becomes a suspect. Fox released Gracepoint, a dark 10-part murder mystery series, tonight. After a 12-year-old boy is found dead in a small town, every citizen of Gracepoint becomes a suspect. Those two shows sound oddly similar, don’t they? A little too similar… To be fair, Gracepoint is a Broadchurch remake. So some similarity is understandable. But this is a little excessive.

I completely understand the decision to create a Broadchurch remake. The show received rave reviews, from critics and viewers alike; it was renewed, even though it was originally meant to be a standalone mini-series; and it was an overall excellent show (though the ending wasn’t everything I’ve ever wanted in a big reveal). Remaking a very successful show makes perfect sense, sure, they already have a great story and the network is pretty dang sure that it will be profitable. And hey, I’m all for a profitable new series.

Though Broadchurch probably deserves a remake in due time, why on earth was it necessary to make an American adaptation now? The original show is still on the air, so it’s not about a lack of Broadchurch or of any form of season-long murder mystery series (Don’t forget about True Detective and The Killing!)Since Broadchurch is a British show, the characters are speaking English; and last I checked, Americans can understand British English (At least well enough to watch a British television series), so it’s not a language barrier. The main director of Broadchurch joined the new series, of which he directs four of the ten episodes, so there will be very little difference in style. Yet, the weirdest thing about Gracepoint is that they didn’t even bother to find a new lead actor; David Tennant’s character has a new name to go with his spiffy new American accent in the adaptation.

Nick Nolte in the Gracepoint series premiere. Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/FOX.
Nick Nolte in the series premiere of Gracepoint. Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/FOX.

James Strong is an incredible director with a rather unique style. He was a perfect selection for Broadchurch, as he knows exactly how to heighten tension, namely through his use of incredibly long shots of characters in emotional distress, which he undercuts with music. And hey, if he did a great job on Broadchurch, why wouldn’t he be a great candidate for Gracepoint? I’m all for giving Strong more jobs, because (as I said before), he is an incredible director. But when given a nearly identical script, he’s going to direct it the exact same way. And I mean the exact same way. There are numerous identical shots in the pilots of both series. Same exact angle, same exact length, and with the same exact dialogue. The only difference is the actors on screen.

Rather than go on and on about what was the same between the two shows (because that would take a whole lot of time), I’ll break down the differences that I noted. Obviously, there were new actors (besides Tennant) playing the same roles. And seeing as Gracepoint is an American production shot in America, the new set of actors are either American or have American accents. Some names were changed! The family of the deceased, the lead detective, the reporter, and a couple of other characters have new names.

Those are all minuscule changes that really don’t change anything about the show. Here are the real changes. The family of the deceased is now Hispanic. Though this could be an attempt at diversity, I assume it was just so that they could hire Michael Peña to play Mark Solano.

Nick Nolte, David Tennant and Anna Gunn in the Gracepoint series premiere. Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/FOX.
Nick Nolte, David Tennant and Anna Gunn in the series premiere of Gracepoint. Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/FOX.

There is one real difference, I swear. Danny Latimer was asphyxiated in Broadchurch, but his Gracepoint equivalent, Danny Solano was killed by blunt force trauma. This is where it gets interesting. The investigation will be completely different in this case. Though there might be the same suspects (read: every character is a suspect), the murder itself will be different.

The executive producers have sworn that there is a different ending to the series. There will be a different build-up to the murder, a different murderer, and different reasons for committing the crime. Hopefully this means that Gracepoint will quickly develop into its own series, but as of the pilot, the two seem practically identical.

Don’t get me wrong, Gracepoint is an excellent show! Let’s face it, it’s hard not to be enthralled when the main cast consists of David Tennant, Anna Gunn, and Michael Peña. I thoroughly enjoyed the premiere, but I felt as though I had already seen it.

Do yourself a favor and check out BBC’s Broadchurch before (or instead of) tuning into Gracepoint this October. Because Gracepoint appears to mimic the original to the T, even down to the two leads bickering about names. And why would you wait for the new series when you’ve got the original already lined up?

Gracepoint airs Thursdays at 9/10pm on FOX.

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