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Lives changed forever in BBC America’s ‘Broadchurch’

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Thursday, August 1, 2013, at 11:03 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, at 5:31 p.m.

Eleven-year-old Danny Latimer is found dead at the foot of a cliff in a small seaside community in England in BBC America's new contemporary drama "Broadchurch." Did he fall? Was he pushed? Was it an accident or was it murder?

Don't let the glacial pacing of the first two episodes put you off. This 8-part murder mystery series is worth sticking with for the excellent characterizations and intricate plotting.

The investigation into Danny's death is led by an out-of-towner, Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (a heavily-bearded David Tennant, better known for BBC's "Doctor Who"), who turns out to be carrying his own demons, including a botched child murder case. His partner is a town native, Detective Inspector Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), who knew Danny through her son, Tom _ who has his own secrets.

The last sight of Danny is of him skateboarding up a street long after he should have been in bed. Where did he go? Everyone who Danny interacted with, his family, his friends, his boss at the newsstand, are questioned.

The investigation upsets the perilous balances of many lives. Everyone is "Broadchurch" has secrets. The secrets come out, one by one _ infidelity, lust, poverty, stress, child abuse. Most secrets are normal skeletons that every family has in their cupboards; some are not.

The British tabloid press takes a flogging for its portrayal of Danny's story, which precipitates more heartbreak for the town. The local newspaper editor has to contend with a national reporter who sees an opportunity to break out of her static London job, and with the editor's own ambitious cub reporter, who doesn't quite understand the impact of his reporting until after the fact. An invasion of paparazzi increases the town's feeling of being under siege.

Under attack by photographers, Danny's father wonders, "What have was done to ourselves, eh?" referring to the onslaught of publicity. Later, he has to dispel a lynch mob.

Every character changes, grows and develops. Some die.

By the end of the series, you find out what really happened to Danny that night. Nothing will ever be the same again in "Broadchurch."

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