Fox is creating an Americanized version of the hit ITV drama Broadchurch for a limited series run next year. As an added feature, David Tennant will play the lead in the US version (with an American accent) as he did in the UK version (with a Scottish accent). I have some concerns.
The big concern, which should also be Fox’s concern, is that Broadchurch did not translate well in America. The first series of the UK version finished its eight-episode run on BBC America last week and was not able to find an audience (unlike in the UK, where 10 million people watched the finale). The show could not find a consistent pace or tone, and the overall premise—the investigation of a child’s murder—may be a tough sell for network audiences. Also, if the show tries to do a beat-for-beat match, there are significant story obstacles in the conclusion of the investigation.
However, I do not want to dismiss this program completely. I like that the networks are considering limited-series formats…so long as the series does stay limited. I’m looking at you Under the Dome. The UK version of Broadchurch will have a second series, which I and one of my co-workers (and David Tennant devotee) are leery about. My theory is that the second series will deal with the fallout of the investigation, turning the show from a compelling mystery to a soap opera. Under the Dome was originally a 13-episode miniseries, but CBS didn’t want to leave money on the table and renewed it for a second season next summer. That led to six or seven (or eleven) episodes of NOTHING HAPPENING.
If Fox can fix the translation problem and create a long-form investigation compelling to American audiences, I may find myself on-board. However, The Killing and the luke-warm reception to The Bridge demonstrates the challenge of that narrative style.