Justice can be merciless. Not just on the guilty, but on the innocent.
This comes clear in season two of the BBC America crime drama “Broadchurch,” which starts March 4.
“In the U.K. (season one) was a massive hit,” says producer Jane Featherstone, “and became a real talking point every Monday night. It did incredibly well around the world.”
In the original “Broadchurch,” young Danny Latimer was murdered on a beach in the seaside town. The investigation of his death, led by Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Coleman), uncovered many hidden personal secrets, including adultery, among the town’s inhabitants.
Featherstone, who has produced other British dramas such as “MI-5,” and “The Hour,” worked with writer Chris Chibnail (“Law and Order: U.K.”) on the new season of “Broadchurch.”
“What inspired Chris to write the first (season),” she says, “was an attempt to get under the skin and spend more time with the characters.”
“Once the murder happens very often in drama, in television drama, you see the victim for maybe one scene, but quickly the police investigation takes it somewhere else.”
The first season culminated with the discovery that the accused killer of Danny was the Ellie’s husband, Joe.
In season two, Joe Miller is at his plea hearing. Everyone expects him to plead guilty. He does not. (Not a spoiler; it’s in the trailers.)
This is only one strand of the new season.
Hardy, who has major heart problems, is still pursuing an old case, the one that destroyed his career, about two missing cousins in Sandbrook. One of them turned up dead, the other still missing. He was convinced that their neighbor, Lee Ashworth (James D’Arcy), killed them but that trial failed to convict him. Hardy is protecting his chief witness, Ashworth’s wife, but is she really telling the truth about her husband, a man who she admits to having “an addiction” for even as he terrifies her?
“Broadchurch” shows a very different legal system than in the U.S. Miller’s lawyer Sharon Bishop is sharp, fierce and has a son in the penal system. Danny’s family is represented by an older barrister, Jocelyn Knight, who has hidden medical problems, and at one point, is Bishop’s teacher.
At the heart of “Broadchurch” are the actors who play the two detectives.
“They have this incredible chemistry,” Featherstone said of her two leads, Tennant (formerly of “Doctor Who” and “Spies of Warsaw”) and Colman. “They’re both very generous actors to each other, and to the people around them.”
She adds that American audiences may have some difficulty with Tennant’s native Scottish accent but, “I love hearing him do his natural voice.”
“If we (the producers) didn’t know what to do, we did a scene of the two of them together and that would always work.”
The first season of “Broadchurch” was remade in the U.S. on Fox as “Gracepoint” but Featherstone says the second season has not been picked up for remake. It will be only available on BBC America.
She feels, in the new season, “You’ve got both. You’ve got a courtroom thriller and another big mystery story with hooks.”
BBC America, March 4, 10 p.m. Eastern