Actors: David Tennant, Olivia Colman
Director: Euros Lyn
Format: Multiple Formats, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
Number of discs: 3
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Entertainment One
DVD Release Date: May 12, 2015
Run Time: 480 minutes
I must admit, I was highly skeptical of the decision to create a second season of the detective murder mystery series, “Broadchurch.” Rather than a new mystery a week, this show took on a single case over the course of the first season, much like similarly successful procedurals such as “True Detective.” The difference is the choice to continue the same storyline in the second season of “Broadchurch,” as opposed to the shift to new characters and narratives in the follow up seasons of shows like “True Detective” or “Fargo.” Seeing as the setting of “Broadchurch” is meant to be a small peaceful seaside town, there is some suspension of disbelief needed in the continuation of such criminal investigations, but it is done in a way that cleverly surpasses the first season in many ways.
Part of the problem with the first season was the singular storyline, and the investigation which took on a familiar pattern. Each episode we would hear the stories the investigators DI Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) would pull from interrogated suspects, and the audience would be made aware of at least one lie being told. In reality, nearly all of these were red herrings; the audience would always know about the one lie in order to be suspicious of every other truth told. This happened so repeatedly within the first season that it became obvious and tiresome to be misled in the same way. Although season two does not shy away from this method, there are other elements to the narrative which no longer need to rely on the murder mystery structure. In short, with more going on in season two, it makes the flaws in the storytelling less glaring.
Cleverly retaining the location needed for the title while adding a new mystery, the detective elements of this season are in regards to the case which nearly ruined Hardy’s career prior to season one. This makes it a cold case this time, although many of the other elements are remarkably similar. Most obvious of these is another dead child at the center of the mystery, along with a missing babysitter and the scared wife of the man accused and acquitted (played by James D’Arcy). Hardy is personally invested in finding new evidence to prove he was right the first time around, but the deeper he and Miller investigate, the clearer it is that there is more to the story than originally thought.
This mystery likely would have had just as difficult a time remaining compelling for an entire season alone, which is why the continued storyline from the first season pads the narrative nicely. Although we already know the murderer from season one, his refusal to plead guilty at the trial turns season two into a courtroom drama alongside the new murder mystery. There may not be any mystery in this storyline, but that does not mean it lacks suspense. The show is still a procedural, though it becomes one in the courtroom as well as the new investigation.
Despite a confession at the end of the first season, the court case proves to be far from simple. It is a bleak portrayal of the way that the court system can be treated as a game, with innocent citizens of Broadchurch used as pawns to discredit the case against season one’s child killer. The defense attorney (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) coldly tears up the lives of those involved in order to discredit testimony, disgustingly doing whatever necessary to set the killer free. The only chance the family of the victim has for justice comes in form of a local retired attorney (played by Charlotte Rampling) who was once the mentor to the defense lawyer. Contrived as many of these situations and relationships may be, the writing and performances somehow manage to keep them even more compelling than the first season.
There are eight episodes in season two, just as there were in the first season. All are fit onto three discs in this DVD set, along with a handful of special features worth mentioning. There is a generic making-of featurette, along with a few behind-the-scenes featurettes and cast/crew interviews. Also included are some scenes which were cut from the original broadcast, though nothing monumentally significant to the overall narrative.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Special Features: 6.5/10