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TV Review: Broadchurch (Series 3, Episode 8)


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It seems ridiculous now, but when writer Chris Chibnall penned the first series of Broadchurch a few years ago, he was privately worried that the show would not be a success.

Even great dramatists fall short sometimes, and there was always a possibility that the show would be dismissed by the critics as absurd, overly-complicated or melodramatic (as it has been at times), and that the audiences would not stay with it long enough for the TV bosses to commission a second series.

Yet when the show first aired in 2013 it was an immediate hit, with the whole nation seemingly gripped by the highly traditional murder mystery plot.

Fortunately for the show's many fans, Chibnall had prepared for success as well as failure, and had written the show with the intention of developing it into a trilogy. This third and final series has made up for the weakness of the second, which needlessly extended the plot of the first while bringing into the mix a whacky cold case from outside.

This time we were told it would be back to basics, and that was what we got. Nevertheless, a show that has spent the last seven weeks slowly building up cliff-sharp tension was inevitably going to reach something of an anti-climax, as this last episode was. Some viewers may have been shocked by the revelation that the rape was conducted by the unhappy teen Michael Lucas (Deon Lee-Williams), egged on by local shop-keeper and serial bastard Leo Humphries (Chris Mason).

I cannot actually recall the last time the two characters were in the show, or the slightest suggestion that one of them was a serial rapist and that the other was being groomed.

So much - perhaps too much - time was spent on big, fat red herrings such as the sad obsessions of Ed Burnett (Lenny Henry) and the sexual misadventures of Jim Atwood (Mark Bazeley). And in this last episode Trish herself only appeared at the very end, having now partially recovered from the nightmare that befell her.

Trish, it transpired, was merely unlucky to walk into the eye-line of a serial rapist at that birthday party. The careful handling of her trauma, and the exploration of the subsequent intrusiveness of the police investigation, as well as the way the incident rebounded on the rest of the community, was a strong counterbalance to the absurdity of the suspect line-up.

As this was the last episode of the entire series, there was, besides the denouement, a good deal of corny loose-end tying up to get through. Fans of the show who hoped Hardy and Miller would finally get naked had their hopes dashed - although to be quite honest it was probably best for all concerned that they did not get together.

Hardy did however manage to patch things up with his recalcitrant daughter Daisy, who was proud that her gruff old Dad managed to win the day and ensure a serial sex-maniac was nicked long enough for his libido to wane. The Latimers also seem to have worked through another stage of grief, although it seems doubtful they could - or would want to - return to a normal family unit.

Elsewhere in the town, the two most pointless characters in this series, journalist Maggie Radcliffe and the Reverend Paul Coates, decided to give up their respective careers and head for pastures new... the odd healing power of those sandy cliffs evidently doesn't work for everyone.

Broadchurch certainly won't be the last murder mystery to pop up on ITV. There will be other, even more ludicrous dramas to come in the future. But with its complex writing and compelling acting, Broadchurch will surely be remembered for quite some time as one of the best shows to have graced our screens.

Broadchurch: Series 3 will be available to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray on Monday 24th April.

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