Fox’s 10-week television event (actually 11 because the final episode was delayed a week due to the American Thanksgiving holiday), Gracepoint, starring David Tennant and Anna Gunn, was an exercise in patience. For those of us who watched and adored the ITV original Broadchurch, which provided the DNA for Gracepoint, this show could never EVER live up to the original. For those who came into it without having had the benefit of Broadchurch (and the invariable comparisons between the original cast and this other cast), ratings were somewhere between ‘meh’ and ‘mildly piqued’. And there lies the rub of Fox’s decision to not continue with Gracepoint… ratings. TVLine says the premiere episode in October only generated 4.8 million viewers (a 1.2 demo rating) and the finale broadcast dropped to 4 million viewers (giving it a 0.9 rating).
As a fan of Broadchurch, as well as its writer/EP Chris Chibnall (Born and Bred, Life on Mars, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Law & Order: UK), and, yes, David Tennant, I was consistently underwhelmed by Gracepoint. I’d either seen it all before (the first 2 episodes were almost identical to a frame – as was a good chunk of the final episode, but for the reveal of the murderer and what followed) or I just wanted to get to the end of it for the sake of getting to the end of it and finding out whodunnit. I kept the faith and trusted that all would be well, Chibnall had said the murderer in Gracepoint was part of his original idea for Broadchurch, but he had been asked to change it. So it all sounded like an organic part of the writing process. The thing was, no one on Broadchurch ever annoyed me (on Gracepoint, plenty) – I knew Tennant (DI Alec Hardy) from some of his previous work, same as I knew Arthur Darvill, Andrew Buchan, Olivia Colman, Peter de Jersey, and David Bradley, and I enjoyed spending time with them all. This cast, I knew Tennant (obv) and Sarah-Jane Potts among the Brits and Alisen Down and Brendan Fletcher representing Canada, and that’s about it (okay, Nick Nolte was a known entity).
Although billed as ‘same but different’, and recognising that that is exactly what viewers got, I probably should have given Gracepoint a miss (except it was filmed here in British Columbia!). I didn’t and that’s on me (and 10 hours of TV viewing time I’m never getting back). Plenty of people (approximately 4 million Americans) did enjoy it and will likely be saddened by the news that Fox has cancelled the show. However, I have a suggestion for those who can get their ears around British accents: watch Broadchurch (Tennant is from Scotland and I think everyone else had English accents, except for the innkeeper who’s Australian). If you want to avoid the ‘same but different’ scenario I just endured, why not fast forward to Broadchurch, Season 2 – coming to the UK as of January 4, if for no other reason than no one but the cast and crew know whodunnit and they aren’t telling.
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