I have been thinking about adaptations and how well (or not) books that I have loved translate to film. This led me to thinking about the stories that were written especially for the format in which they were shown. I have a theory that the best television or the best film is the work that was created for the screen rather than taken from another medium.
‘Broadchurch’ was a big hit on television in Britain in 2013. I missed it when it was broadcast but caught up with the DVD. This involved me avoiding any conversation or any written article or review as I was desperate not to discover the murderer until the right moment in the series. It is an example of material that suited the form it was written for.
The story concerns the effect on a family and a community of the murder of a ten year old boy. His body is discovered on the beach. The detective assigned to the case is a local woman, Ellie, who knows the victim, his family and many of the potential suspects. Her boss is new to the area and does not have the same community roots. In the end, it is the combination of the detectives’ styles that makes the programme so watchable; that, and the fact that everyone who could be a suspect was likeable to the point that I didn’t want it to be them.
In the end, when the murderer was revealed, it was a shock. I was really for days and felt so sad at the outcome… and the reason. This series worked, I think, because it was designed as a story to be told over eight weeks. There was no conflation from a book or, worse, padding to make it fit better as a series.
‘Broadchurch is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?