OUR REVIEW: Gracepoint Screening In Los Angeles - Episodes 1 & 2

The new Fox TV murder mystery event Gracepoint had its world premiere screening at LACMA in Los Angeles. Fox had certainly pulled out all the stops to give their thrilling new drama a sparkling, Hollywood launch, and better still the whole cast were in attendance including David Tennant and Anna Gunn and series creator Chris Chibnall.

Two episodes of the ten part series were screened followed by a Q&A with the cast

It is very hard to watch and review Gracepoint without making references to Broadchurch, especially the early episodes because these are the ones that follow the plot of the original quite closely. Fortunately, to reassure Broadchurch fans, Gracepoint manages to have enough differences of its own to make the watching experience quite unique. To agree with David Tennant’s own experience of filming the drama, the effect is like watching a different theatrical company give their own interpretation of a much loved play. And it is to be hoped that the new drama will now be seen by viewers who have never watched Broadchurch, and in this case Gracepoint stands up as a very watchable, tense thriller full of excellent acting performances that will keep audiences gripped and guessing. Either way, it’s a drama worth exploring.

The basic plot is the same. On the day that Detective Ellie Miller (Anna Gunn) returns from vacation to discover that her expected promotion has gone to an outsider, Emmett Carver (David Tennant), her friends’ son’s body is discovered on a local beach. She is forced to work together with her rude and unpleasant superior and face up to some uncomfortable truths about her home town and its residents. As the town comes under national press attention, the community becomes tense and suspicious and long-held secrets come to the surface. In Gracepoint anyone can be a suspect. 

Gracepoint deals with the murder of young Danny Solano, but it also takes a close look at the impact of the crime on his loved ones and the wider community. The drama is therefore dependent on believable performances by its impressive ensemble cast and they do not disappoint. So far the performances are reassuringly powerful. In particular Michael Peña and Virginia Kull are tremendously moving as Danny’s shocked and grieving parents, as is newcomer Madalyn Horcher as his sister Chloe. 

Anna Gunn gives a very different take on Ellie Miller. There was a certain softness to Olivia Colman’s original portrayal of the character, even though she could be as hard as nails where necessary. Anna is physically quite different, taller and more angular, and she appears angrier and more driven. It would not feel right for her to appear to submit to Carver’s orders and rudeness without putting up a fight and she does not appear shy of showing her exasperation with him.

David Tennant reinvents Alec Hardy as Emmett Carver and gives us a completely new character. He has been cleverly subtle in the way that he does this. The very credible American accent aside, he moves and holds himself differently and reacts differently to his co-stars. Carver is ruder and darker and more abrupt than Hardy. David is definitely not simply rehashing what he has done before. He has definitely grasped the opportunity to explore new parameters for the character within the bounds of the plot.

Over the next few weeks the drama is going to unfold on TV screens across America, Canada and Australia. We hope that viewers are going to discover why the story was thought to be worthy of a remake and also enjoy some fantastic performances and the development of some intriguing characters. We are already eager to see more of the amazing Nick Nolte and Jacki Weaver, and to see where the very talented Kendrick Sampson will take his character. We’re also curious to find out more about the new plot twists and see how they lead into the changed ending. Fingers crossed that Gracepoint will appeal to a new set of viewers and take them on a very worthwhile journey, one that viewers of Broadchurch have already discovered