Why you should care

Because the latest remake of a popular British crime drama might be the best show on TV this fall. 

Let’s face it: The Brits are really good — perhaps too good — at TV crime drama. Especially the dark and grisly whodunits, where anyone and everyone — often in a community where everyone knows each other — quickly becomes a suspect in the crime. Where suddenly one of the neighbors might just be a murderer.

Broadchurch, which aired in the U.K. last year, is a first-rate example. The highly acclaimed crime drama, starring David Tennant (of Dr. Who fame), is about the murder of an 11-year-old boy in a close-knit seaside town. And it’s a masterful piece of TV. With a character-driven script, compelling cinematography and an award-winning score, the show was a huge hit with blockbuster ratings. Which is probably why the people at Fox snapped up the show to remake it for a U.S. audience.

A deliciously, nail-bitingly suspenseful story…

Get ready for Gracepoint. Set in a coastal town in northern California (but actually filmed further north in British Columbia), the plot is similar: A young boy from a small community is found dead on the beach. One by one, members of the town become the focus of the investigation, helmed by lead detective Emmett Carver, an outsider brought in to investigate, and the slightly disgruntled hometown detective, Ellie Miller, who was passed over for the top job. At its core, it’s a story of a tragedy, and a town that must somehow come to grips with that tragedy.

It’s not clear yet just how faithful Gracepoint — billed by the network as a “10-Part Mystery Event” — will be to its acclaimed predecessor, although the trailer definitely has a familiar feel. The show’s official site promises some new characters and additional suspects and plot twists — which might be worrisome, considering how deliciously, nail-bitingly suspenseful the original story unfolds. Tennant even recently teased that ”the ending is going to be different.”The biggest casting surprise: David Tennant. Not only does he reprise the top-cop role, but he also swaps his Scottish accent for a Californian one. The delightful Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad plays Carver’s sidekick: the likable, earnest hometown detective — who also happens to be the best friend of grieving mother Beth, played by Virginia Kull (The Following, Boardwalk Empire). Jacki Weaver and Nick Nolte also make appearances.

For fans of Broadchurch, which aired on BBC America last summer, the promise of a different ending makes the wait until the fall 2014 season that much more unbearable.

Successful American TV series based on British TV series:

  • All in the Family
  • House of Cards
  • Life on Mars
  • The Office
  • Shameless
  • Sherlock
  • Three’s Company

So how good is Tennant’s Californian accent? Apparently “fantastic,” according to show creator Chris Chibnal. (Watch this compilation and decide for yourself.) Tennant follows many Brit actors who have played thoroughly convincing Americans: Andrew Lincoln and David Morrissey (The Walking Dead), Hugh Laurie (House), Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), Matthew Rhys (The Americans), Alan Cumming (The Good Wife).

But if Fox pulls this off and successfully re-creates one of the best U.K. whodunits in recent memory, viewers won’t be paying attention to Tennant’s Golden State nuances. No, we’ll be riveted to the screen, watching transfixed as devastated town residents unravel, turning against each other. Waiting to find out who really killed Danny Lasseter.

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