I THINK I’d like to talk television today. The news is too depressing and bizarre sometimes, even for a mainline headline addict.
We have hit peak TV lately. Everything will soon roll into early summer decline, but what goodies have been and still are on offer.
It’s not much of a start to say, ‘stop reading now’: but if you haven’t watched the last episode of Broadchurch, here is your spoiler alert. Find something else to do or skip the next few paragraphs.
This third and final series of Broadchurch has been almost note-perfect and removes unhappy memories of the disappointing second series. Not that the memories here are exactly happy: the last helping of Chris Chibnall’s Dorset-based crime trilogy has been drenched in misogyny and misery from the off, and the presiding image has been of DS Ellie Miller’s facial expressions: for an actor who started out in comedy, Olivia Colman has taken to disgust, anger and misery like a duck to an empty swimming pool. Her face really has said it all at times.
There was, it turned out, not one rapist but two. After eight weeks of tripping over red herrings, the culprit was almost certainly the taxi-driving creep; but this was a bit of misdirection, as he was in fact covering for his teenage stepson, who had been groomed as an accomplice by ‘twine boy’ Leo Humphries – the one of whom Miller snapped in episode one: “I am never in the mood for swaggery young shits.”
Whodunit? Ah, the swaggery young shit, sort of. And he had raped the other women.
I do have a question about the grooming: would a nervous young lad been pressured by a supposed mate really manage to rape a woman? It’s just a thought, but everything else made sense – apart from the defenestrated newspaper old editor saying that she was going to start a vlog on YouTube, which sounded tin-ear trendy.
A seam of bruised humanity has run throughout this drama, which started in the first series with the murder of Danny Latimer, and as his sundered parents, Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan were stunning throughout, with Buchan being almost too pained to watch in this last series. They had a resolution of sorts, but no happy ending.
Talking of endings, the last scene worked perfectly: Hardy and Miller sitting on a bench while being upstaged by those cliffs, and Miller suggesting a drink down the pub – “We’ve never done,” she says brightly. Hardy (that frown on legs in the shape of David Tennant) was having none of it, ending with one of his elongated: “Naaahs”.
Chris Chibnall is off to mastermind Doctor Who, so the long-running saga should be in safe hands. A new series began on Saturday, the last to feature Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, and the first to introduce his new companion, Bill Potts. Pearl Mackie was instantly intriguing and lovable in the role, being fantastic to watch and smart, too.
Like Broadchurch, Doctor Who is on once a week – the old, traditional pre-Netflix way of watching TV. An estimated 12 million viewers sat down to a hardly cheery Easter Monday treat last night with the last Broadchurch. I still like that way of watching TV – having to wait a whole week to catch the next panicky swerve in Line Of Duty on BBC1, which is as brilliantly compelling as ever this time round.
The episode before last ended with a jaw-dropping moment in which one of the main characters appeared to have died (he hadn’t, but he wasn’t in a good way). The mood changed this week for a tense and brilliant bit of cat-and-mouse writing in which the never less than cocky Ted Hastings called Roz Huntley back in for questioning, certain that he had his bent cop nailed.
Instead, she turned the tables on him after wheedling some help from the horrid ACC Hilton – who thought his reward lay in a tumble between rented silk sheets, but Huntley was too smart to fall for that. Is she smart enough to really be the evil eye at the heart of everything; and who is the man in the balaclava?
You must wait to find out, and waiting is good, rather than bingeing or – as one of my students told me last term – “marathoning”, an expression new to me.
I do binge sometimes, but Netflix cuts out on our rubbish BT TV box, so House of Cards has been left unwatched for weeks now. I don’t really mind as the old way is better.