Broadchurch is back. The stand-out television crime drama of 2013 returned this evening, the storyline of season 2 a secret that writer Chris Chibnall has maintained as a closely guarded secret. The first question, of course, is whether revisiting such a superb show, is a good idea. How can it live up to the standards already set? I suppose that, in this day and age (and probably in any day and age) the crucial factor was public demand. Just as fans wouldn't let Conan Doyle kill off Holmes, so people clamoured for more of Broadchurch.
Holmes was never, though , quite the same man after he returned from the Reichenbach Falls, and the need to do something fresh but equally gripping supplied Chibnall with a huge challenge. During the first few minutes of this episode, it crossed my mind that anyone who hadn't seen season 1 would probably be feeling dissatisfied. I recall watching seasoon 2 of The Killing and, to be honest, wondering what all the fuss was about. It was okay, but didn't seem to me to be remotely close to a masterpiece.I felt missing season 1 was a definite disadvantage.
Broadchurch, however, benefits from great writing, from exceptional acting, and a compelling locale. You can't go far wrong with David Tennant and Olivia Coleman, but now we have new characters thrown into the mix, most notably Charlotte Rampling, playing a senior barrister who just happens to have retired to Broadchurch. When the presumed killer from season 1 decides to plead not guilty to murder, will Charlotte agree to the parents' request for help? We can guess the answer...
There is also a new plot strand, reaching back to the last disastrous case of Tennant's character. This seems to me to be a clever development, a really good way of refreshing interest. There were moments of improbable melodrama at the end, with an exhumation attended, bizarrely, by almost all the main characters in the story. And the defence barristers' chambers seemed pretty unrealistic to me, too. But I loved the mysterious "bluebell" clue - reminscent of Francis Durbridge! All in all, the story buzzed along, and despite some reservations, I'll certainly be watching episode two.