Saturday , March 17 2018
Home / Editor Picks / Editor Pick: TV / TV Review: ‘Gracepoint’ – ‘Broadchurch’ with an American Accent
Gracepoint is a worthwhile watch. And if you're a fan of Broadchurch, you might even enjoy watching the new series just to spot the differences.

TV Review: ‘Gracepoint’ – ‘Broadchurch’ with an American Accent

Watching Fox’s newest drama series Gracepoint (premiering Thursday night), I experienced a bit of cognitive dissonance. A fan of BBC America’s (by way of ITV in the U.K.)  Broadchurch (now preparing for its second season), I was intrigued by the idea of re-hatching the excellent British series for American audiences, especially since David Tennant stars in both shows. But it’s very difficult to watch Gracepoint without the British series firmly in my memory banks, so it’s even more difficult to be objective. Gracepoint

It’s an interesting experiment: remaking a currently running English-language, albeit British series, and then casting the star of the British series as the lead in the re-make. It’s been done successfully before (The Office), but I think the similarities between Gracepoint and the original are extraordinarily close, even as the two series diverge (slightly) after the third or fourth episode. After all, the American The Office did feature any of the original’s stars” Ricky Gervais, Martin Freeman, or Mackenzie Crook! And the workings and culture of American and British office life are in themselves pretty distinct.

I have to say I was disappointed that the new series has so closely adheres to the British version: names, plot lines, relationships between the characters. Gracepoint would have been so much better had it gone in a different direction. The similarities (a near-replication) between Gracepoint and Broadchurch make little difference to the creators, and they believe they will make little difference to the viewing public. In a interview with Variety, Executive Producer Caroline Bernstein noted that  ” the viewing audience for ‘Broadchurch’ represents really, truly less than one percent of the American television viewing population. We’re not particularly worried about the overlap.”

If you’ve not seen Broadchurch, you will find Gracepoint a thrilling ride of a mystery as Tennant’s character Emmet Carver, along with his police partner Ellie Miller (Anna Gunn), try to identify and then catch the killer of a young boy, found dead on a beach below a high cliff. Everyone in the small Northern California seaside town is a potential subject: from the boy’s father to the local nature club sponsor (a craggy old man played beautifully by Nick Nolte). No one is beyond suspicion.

I’ve seen the Gracepoint’s first seven episodes (there are 10 set to air), and I wonder if the Fox series come to the same resolution as Broadchurch had. I hope not, if only to make the Gracepoint journey worth the while for Broadchurch fans. Gracepoint is well acted, well-written, and beautifully produced. The physical beauty of the location with its cliffs and crashing waves becomes more than just a bit of scenery. And the story, even if it’s strikingly similar to the original, is interesting and will have you guessing “who done it?” all the way through (while hoping that it’s not the same guy guilty in Broadchurch!)

David Tennant (whose character is one of the few characters with a different name in the American adaptation–his character in Broadchurch was Alec Hardy) plays Emmet Carver an intense, clearly troubled police detective. He has a past and a not a few secrets of his own. New to town, and the only one who can really investigate the boy’s death objectively (it’s a very small town, and everyone knows everyone–or at least think they do!), he is partnered with detective Ellie Miller (Gunn). Ellie’s son was the murdered boy’s best friend, and Ellie is close with the boy’s mother. Tennant plays Emmet with the same intensity he portrayed the same character in the British version, although it’s slightly jarring to hear him speak with an American accent.

There is a constant tension between Emmet and Ellie. She sees out-of-towner Emmet as an interloper, taking the job promised to her. But over the course of the series their relationship, while remaining rocky becomes one of mutual respect as they draw closer to identifying the killer. At the same time, long-standing relationships strain at the seams and (in some cases) break entirely in the sleepy little town.

Gracepoint is a worthwhile watch. And if you’re a fan of Broadchurch, you might even enjoy watching the new series just to spot the differences.

Gracepoint airs Thursday nights on Fox.

[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00HGE90Z4,B00EE3KMOI,B00NP6IMQU]

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, ( Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."

Check Also

Awesome Con Q&A: David Tennant on ‘Doctor Who’

"You can't research being a Time Lord. I wish you could! You can't really go and hang out at the Time Lord offices for a week – be an intern and see how they work."


  1. I hope that Gracepoint launches Tennant into American stardom. He is a gifted actor.

  2. It’s getting such mixed reviews that I really can’t see this catching on – plus the football is going to cream this in the ratings. I doubt whether this will help launch Tennant here as it isn’t likely to be successful and he’s probably now too old to break in the US. Good though to see Karen Gillan getting lots of plaudits for Selfie. She’s certainly on her way to being a big star here, so not all bad news for Who-ers.

    • Actually, he’s not old at all. Look at Hugh Laurie when he broke through with House or Robert Carlyle with Once Upon a Time (if not Stargate Universe). Few in the U.S. had heard of either actor before their American television debuts.

      • The strange thing is, the reviews from “older” critics (like those who write for Forbes and WSJ) seem to like the show a lot. Younger critics used to instant gratification seem to be more lukewarm. It is strange to see David Tennant referred to as being old. Someone in their 30’s, for me, at least, is definitely not old.

        As I recall, Broadchurch received some lukewarm reviews initially. Hopefully, the American network television viewer can savor a slower paced, more intricately woven mini series.

        Selfie has gotten some lukewarm reviews and I am torn about having it survive. I like Karen Gillan and John Cho. But I will miss John Cho in Sleepy Hollow.

        Another show with an “older” (and accomplished) lead is “Forever.” I really do hope that Horatio Hornblower makes a mark on American TV. (Hornblower was great drama. Ioan Gruffudd is fantastic actor. And that show featured the man who beat Colm Wilkinson for the Tony and Olivier Awards, the accomplished actor that played Captain Pellew, Robert Lindsay).

        • I’ve seen the first couple of Forevers. Really wanted to like it, but I thought the Main Character’s exploitation of his “condition” several times in the first episode was over the top. I love the concept. I liked Gracepoint, but because I also loved Broadchurch, Gracepoint seems redundant to me.

          • I liked Gracepoint, but I kept thinking that I’ve seen this before. Still, the story is suppose to start diverging by the third episode. And I guess time has gone by. Tennant is now in his 40’s (but that’s still not old by any means). The show did not get great ratings – hopefully, it picks up in viewership in the next few weeks.

          • The problem is, that it doesn’t diverge very much (or not really enough). I’ve not seen them all, but I’ve seen the first seven. I want to re-iterate, I did like like, but it was like seeing an Americanized duplicate. I wonder if FOX would have been better off airing it in two or three years. That distance from the original series of Broadchurch might have really made a difference.

          • I don’t know how many people actually watch the beeb in the U.S. though, so it was a worthy gamble. The acting was fine, but you are right. I’ve seen it before. I’ll watch it again though.

  3. broadchurch is so great-I have seen all of both of them–gracepoint was a lukewarm production-the killer is not really the killer–and the whole thing is blamed on an innoscent-sad and impotent.