Broadchurch Outshines Almost All Other Crime Dramas In Its First Season

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Crime dramas are all the rage on American television. Each one of the “Big 4” has more than its fair share of gritty crime dramas. Even the cable networks are becoming overloaded with their own crime dramas. Even PBS has its own crime drama series in the forms of Endeavour and the newly resurrected series Inspector Lewis. Considering all of this, it goes without saying that fans of the crime drama genre have more than their share of shows from which to choose. The problem is that save for perhaps PBS’ Inspector Lewis and Endeavour, the majority of the crime dramas that fill the broadcast spectrum today are relatively formulaic. Now thankfully, eOne has offered American audiences a series unlike any other crime drama out there today, including those on PBS. And that is saying something. The series in question is Broadchurch. The series’ first season is available now on DVD. And this debut season of the British import is nothing short of spectacular. Yes, it is a serial. But the show’s writing more than makes up for that. That’s just the beginning of what makes this first season a hit. The use of original music at the right moments will keep viewers’ just as much on the edge of their seats from episode to episode. The same can be said of the acting on the part of the cast. This includes not just lead actors David Tennant (Dr. Who) and Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady, Hot Fuzz, Locke), but to the cast in whole. Their acting, along with the wisely used music and even smarter writing together make Broadchurch: The Complete First Season a truly surprising first impression from this British import. And it gives quite a bit of hope for the series in its second season. Audiences that give this season a chance will largely agree with that sentiment when they purchase or order the box set for themselves.

Broadchurch is not the first imported drama or even crime drama to make its way to America’s shores. The series, as a matter of fact, has been adapted for broadcast on the Fox network this fall. Before audiences even begin to watch that Americanized ripoff, they would do well to check out Season One of Broadchurch if only for the show’s writing. That is the most important factor to the success of this season. Any viewer that is the parent of a small child will agree that this season’s story hits hard because of its reality. It’s a sad reality that children die in this country (and other nations) every single day at the hands of rather sick individuals. That reality gives so much depth and believability to this season’s story. Fair warning, it’s difficult to watch and will make any parent want to hold their child even closer by the season’s final minutes. Even more so, any viewer that is left dry-eyed after watching this season’s story simply isn’t human. Even this critic will admit to tearing up quite a bit by that time.

The emotional depth and believability of the writing is just the starting point of what makes the first season of Broadchurch such a surprise of a series. Audiences will appreciate just as much the twists and turns that are included over the course of this season. They are just enough that they will keep viewers watching on the proverbial edge of their seats right to the season’s end. The twists don’t just include the characters, either. There are minute details on which the camera focuses at random points that keep viewers thrown off the track right up to the shocking season finale. The finale won’t be given away for the sake of those that have yet to see Season One. But it is most definitely unexpected, though sadly very much a reflection of life. To that extent, it makes this season’s story all the more gripping and worth the watch.

On an even deeper level, the writers responsible for bringing Broadchurch to life are to be applauded for the manner in which the series’ first season was constructed. Rather than have eight separate episodes, the writers used the model from Fox’s 24 in establishing each episode. Whereas each episode of 24 is one hour, each episode of Broadchurch’s first season is a continuation of the previous episode. So, all eight episodes of this season comprise just one storyline. And each episode has been written so well (unlike 24), that audiences won’t be left feeling like they need a program to figure out what’s going on. It’s the final touch to the series’ writing that makes the writing the cornerstone of this first season.

The writers behind Broadchurch are to be highly commended for the painstaking efforts put into making this series’ first season the gripping first impression that it proves to be in the end. Just as worthy of applause in Season One are those responsible for the show’s music. Yes, the music in this series plays just as important a role in its success as the writing. This is hardly common in most American television series. Audiences will note in the series’ first season that unlike so many other shows out there, it doesn’t rely on popular songs or music put in just to be there. The music incorporated in Broadchurch: Season One plays directly in to the series’ writing. The smart use of dynamics and overall placement from scene to scene within each episode heightens each episode’s emotional depth. Whether it be the season’s more pained moments as when Danny’s mother saw him lying dead on the beach, or even the more tense moments of the search for the killer, those charged with music placement went above and beyond the call of duty. It’s one more factor that makes the debut season of this gripping British crime drama worlds better than its countless American counterparts.

The music and the writing behind the first season of Broadchurch are by themselves integral parts of the season’s overall success. Together they make Broadchurch a fully gripping and engrossing series in only its first season. There is still one more aspect of this first season that proves Broadchurch to be the standard by which so many other dramas should model themselves. That final factor is the acting on the part of the cast. That applies not just to lead actors David Tennant and Olivia Colman but to the entire cast. Each member of the show’s cast expertly interprets the show’s script, making it even more difficult to figure out who is the killer until said person is revealed in the season finale. On the other hand that expert acting also pulls in viewers on a deeply emotional level, too. That expert acting on both sides of the coin adds one more level of depth, thus making this season of Broadchurch even more gripping. That final factor, set alongside the season’s writing and music, makes the presentation whole and wholly of the best first impressions from any new series in recent history. It makes the first season of Broadchurch one that any fan of dramas must see at least once this year.

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season is available now on DVD in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Broadchurch-Season-1-David-Tennant/dp/B00HGE90Z4/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1403311459&sr=1-1&keywords=broadchurch+the+complete+first+season. More information on this and other releases from Entertainment One is available online at entertainmentone.com/home. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

PBS Announces Release Date For Masterpiece Mystery!: The Escape Artist

Courtesy:  PBS/BBC

Courtesy: PBS/BBC

Officials with PBS announced this week that the network will release the latest installment of its series Masterpiece Mystery! this summer.

Masterpiece Mystery!: The Escape Artist will be released Tuesday, June 17th on DVD and Blu-ray. The legal thriller was written by David Wolstencroft (MI-5) and stars David Tennant (Dr. Who, Broadchurch) as successful defense lawyer Will Burton. Burton’s life is perfect. His career is on the right path. He has a beautiful wife and child. His talent for getting his clients out from behind bars has even earned him the nickname “The Escape Artist.” Burton has only one true rival. Her name is Maggie Gardner (Sophie Okonedo—Hotel Rwanda). Gardner is second only to Burton. The pair’s rivalry is purely professional. Both lawyers take more pleasure in manipulating he lives of their clients than each others’ lives. But things change dramatically when Burton receives a case file on the eve of his vacation that could change the very course of his career and his life.

The case file focuses on accused killer Liam Foyle (Toby Kebbel—Wrath of the Titans). Foyle has been accused and charged with the torture killing of a young medical student. Burton goes over Foyle’s case file during his vacation, trying to find any possible break in the file that could be used against the reclusive bird-lover. The legal battle that ensues upon Burton’s return from his vacation brings turn after turn that will keep viewers on the edges of their collective seats.

Masterpiece Mystery!: The Escape Artist will be available on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, June 17th. The DVD will be available for SRP of $24.99 and the Blu-ray will be available for SRP of $29.99. It can be pre-ordered now via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=35446806&cp=&sr=1&kw=masterpiece+mystery+the+escape+artist&origkw=Masterpiece+Mystery+The+Escape+Artist&parentPage=search. More information on this and other installments of Masterpiece Mystery! is available online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/mystery/index.html, http://www.facebook.com/masterpiecepbs, and http://twitter.com/masterpiecepbs. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

K-9 Fun For Dr. Who Fans New And Old

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Park Television productions

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Park Television productions

Any pure blooded fan of Dr. Who’s canine companion, K-9 (I am not a dog!)–Sorry, he had to interject, there—is back at last.  K-9: The Complete Series has been made available for audiences in a four-disc set thanks to the good people at Shout! Factory and Park Television Productions.  The twenty-six episode series ran from October 31, 2009 – November 2010 in the U.K.  And now younger audiences who may only know Dr. Who through its more recent re-incarnation on BBC and BBC America will be introduced to this classic Dr. Who character.  In turn, it could lead those same audiences to gain interest in the more classic Dr. Who series.  On the same tip, it could re-ignite the love for the classic series that fans of that series once had while also generating interest both in this spinoff and in the new Dr. Who franchise.  So while it may have only lasted a total of twenty-six episodes, K-9: The Complete Series is a valuable addition to the library of any fan of Dr. Who.

K-9: The Complete Series was originally aimed at younger audiences during its original run overseas.  And while it was aimed at younger audiences, it’s still a fun show for any fan of the seminal sci-fi series.  Fans of the original series will like this updated take on the companion to The Fourth Doctor’s (Played by actor Tom Baker) robotic companion.  Actor John Leeson reprised his role once again for this series.  And yet again, he was the right choice for the job, as he showed that he had just as much chemistry with a new generation of companions (ba-dump-bump-bump) as he did with the original doctors.  He even got the chance to be a little bit edgier than he would have had with K-9’s previous incarnation, since he is working with a group of teens in the setting of late Twenty-First century London.  That more edgy side will especially entertain younger audiences.  And it may be just as entertaining to some older audiences that are more familiar with the original K-9.  They will even be impressed with his updated look, which is explained away through the plot element in the very first episode, ‘Regeneration.’  This instance of K-9 sacrificing himself isn’t the first time that the robotic dog has done so.  Long-time Dr. Who fans will recall that it has done this before.  And just as interesting is that this is one of very few references made to the original Dr. Who series made anywhere in this specific spinoff.  The only fleeting references made to the original series (including in the bonus “Interview with K-9” feature) are a result of broadcasting and distribution rights, allegedly.  But that is not entirely an issue as this series is certain to garner enough interest in that franchise to lead to a younger generation giving that franchise new life.

While there is little to no reference in K-9 to Dr. Who, it doesn’t necessarily need a link to the aforementioned sci-fi hit as it manages to succeed on its own thanks to the show’s writing staff and those behind the show’s production and costumes.  The show—one part Torchwood, and one part Men in Black—starts out as a grouping of stand-alone episodes.  But even when it does start to become a serial, it still manages to maintain its balance of comedy for younger audiences and action for all audiences, thus keeping audiences engaged throughout every episode.  The show’s writers are to be commended for this.  Everything leads up to a number of revelations that no one would have seen coming.  For all the enjoyment that K-9: The Complete Series offers, it’s sad that it only lasted twenty-six episodes.  The final minutes of the series finale were predictable.  But that’s not a bad thing.  If anything, it will leave audiences who have made their way to those moments wish more episodes had been written, as it leaves the door wide open for even more adventures.  One can only hope that perhaps one day those episodes will happen, and when they do, they will be given more opportunity both in the U.K. and here across the pond in the United States.  Until then, audiences finally get to enjoy all twenty-six episodes offered in this collection any time that they want beginning Tuesday, May 7th.  It will be available both in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/216940

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.