Fox’s Gracepoint, an American remake of the British series Broadchurch, is not a shot-for-shot recreation — though it may seem like it’s going in that direction in the first two two episodes, after which it will begin to differ substantially, the exec producers promised to dubious TV critics this afternoon at the TCAs.
The first portions of the British eight-parter were “so well done, why would we contort ourselves to tell it differently?” Carolyn Bernstein said when some critics commented about how the two episodes they’d seen of Gracepoint replicated early Broadchurch episodes. “We didn’t want to fix something we all thought was excellent,” Bernstein explained at Summer TV Press Tour 2014. She and EP/showrunner Dan Futterman promised it will begin to differ substantially.
Further muddying things, in October, Fox announced that Broadchurch star David Tennant had been cast in its 10-hour series. In Fox’s version, Tennant plays an American detective who is the lead investigator in a shocking murder that puts a small town under scrutiny. Though this time it’s set in an American town, like the original it follows the tragic and mysterious death of a young boy found dead on a beach surrounded by rocks and a jutting cliff face, from where he may have fallen. Although his cause of death remains unsolved, the picturesque seaside town where the tragedy occurred is at the heart of a major police investigation and a nationwide media frenzy.
The American version purports to have a different killer.
“I don’t want you to rule anybody out as a suspect,” Futterman said coyly, when asked for assurances of a different outcome than the British version. “We end in a very different place, which is exciting for a first season and could be, yes, a great second season as well.”
Complicating things further, in May, ITV announced Tennant would reprise his role as Detective Alec Hardy on Sesason 2 of Broadchurch. “I’m just happy to go where the good writing is, which has been Broadchurchm and Gracepoint — and now Broadchurch again,” Tennant said. “I will keep turning up, if I make it to the end of Gracepoint Season 1. Who knows?”
He insisted the two roles “feel very different to me,” though he joked, “they both look quite like me and have similar heights.” It’s the same character, and yet not the same,” he insisted, explaining, “The spine of the story is the same, but there is different flesh on the bones.”
One TV critic noted pointedly that one of the reasons they gave Broadchurch such great reviews is because they got to see all eight episodes, and knew all of them were great; she wondered if Fox would similarly give them all 10 episodes of Gracepoint in advance of premiere. Bernstein said she expected Fox to give them enough episodes to see that their version veers from the original, but not enough episodes to spoil the ending.
Another critic wondered how, with early episodes so similar, the Gracepoint producers thought they could draw in fans who’d watched Broadchurch on BBC America, while acknowledging that it’s possible BBCA’s entire Broadchurch audience was in the room.
“My mom is right down the alley of the BBC audience, and she watched it, and said, “I can’t understand a word they’re saying,” the critic said
“How rude,” Tennant joked but maybe not.
“I think that was a common experience,” Futterman insisted stoutly.