'Gracepoint' Vs. 'Broadchurch': How Close Is The Fox Remake To The Original, Anyway?
When FOX's new drama and Broadchurch remake Gracepoint premieres Thursday, the show will have to grapple with the question most often asked of remakes of acclaimed material: "Why?" You see, the popular British mystery Broadchurch aired on ITV (and on BBC America stateside) in the spring of 2013. The show, which starred Doctor Who actor David Tennant, racked up just about every British award imaginable, including BAFTAs, a Peabody, and the British Academy Television Award (basically their Emmys) for Best Drama, Actress, and Supporting Actor. And with Tennant starring alongside Gunn in Gracepoint, the remake already seems a little too similar.
Besides, there's a lot for Gracepoint to measure up to — and instead of trying to set the Fox remake apart from the original, it appears the creators are trying to capitalize on Broadchurch's success by highlighting the similarities between the two versions. Anyone who has watched the trailer for Gracepoint will recognize a lot: reportedly, the first two episodes of the American edition are almost shot-for-shot recreations of Broadchurch . And then there's the small fact that, in an unusual move, Tennant reprises his Broadchurch role in Gracepoint, albeit with an American accent. Plus, both shows were created by the same man, Chris Chibnall.
So what is different? Here's a breakdown of the major changes between the British and American versions of this story:
England vs. California
The most obvious change is merely a cosmetic one. While Broadchurch focused on the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer in the southern English county of Dorset, Gracepoint will relocate Danny and his unfortunate fate to a town in north California. But even this change isn't as major as you might think: aesthetically, the shows will appear almost identical, as both Broadchurch and Gracepoint are small seaside communities with beaches sheltered by tall cliffs and shrouded in chilly fog.
Alec Hardy vs. Emmett Carver
Even though Scottish Tennant appears in both versions in pretty much identical roles, for some reason, his name has been changed. In Broadchurch, he was Detective Alec Hardy; in Gracepoint, he's now Detective Emmett Carver. Both characters are policemen who arrive in the small town seeking peace and quiet after being embroiled in a scandal surrounding a failed case. So how does Tennant feel about playing essentially the same person on two different shows? According to an interview with EW, he doesn't find it to be as tedious as you might think:
Actors are used to repeating things ... On stage you do it eight times a week. Telling the same story is not foreign to us, and this didn’t even feel like that because you’re telling it with different people and telling—at times—a different story. [The roles] felt very different in my bones.
Olivia Colman vs. Anna Gunn
The switch from Hardy to Carver is especially ironic given that his partner, Detective Ellie Miller, gets to keep her name, despite the fact that the actress playing her changed. Anna Gunn takes over the role from British actress Olivia Colman, and the Breaking Bad actress has very large shoes to fill: Colman was nominated for seven awards for her work in the first season of Broadchurch (three of which she won). But Tennant tells Variety he is happy to have a new costar, as it gives him something new to play off of:
The relationship between Carver and Ellie Miller is very different to the relationship between Hardy and Ellie Miller, because they are very different actresses playing those parts, even though they have similar starting points.
8 episodes vs. 10 episodes
While Broadchurch consisted of a very brisk eight hours (much like HBO's recent phenomenon True Detective), FOX's Gracepoint will have a slightly expanded ten episodes. This isn't exactly a surprise — television is typically a much longer form in America than it is across the pond (think BBC's Sherlock with its meager three episodes per season) — but ten hours is still much shorter than the average network order of 22 episodes per season. What Gracepoint is going to do with those two extra hours remains to be seen... But if the reports that the first two episodes are largely shot-for-shot remakes are true, then the American show still has virtually an entire season after those opening hours to differentiate itself from its British counterpart.
Original ending vs. New ending
Naturally, one of the biggest challenges when remaking a mystery is the fact that lots of people will already know whodunnit. Even those who haven't watched Broadchurch can find out Danny's killer with a quick trip to Wikipedia. Gracepoint plans to avoid this problem by completing changing the identity of the murderer. On the one hand, this is exciting: I get to essentially watch Broadchurch again without knowing what's going to happen! But on the other, it's concerning: the reveal of the killer was so soul-shattering, and it so perfectly tied the season together thematically, that it's hard to imagine Gracepoint being remotely as successful with a different solution to the mystery.
Of course, all this speculation about how much the ending will be changed could turn out to be pointless. Just look at all of the hullabaloo surrounding Gone Girl's screen adaptation: The ending is completely different! Never mind, the changes aren't that drastic! Just kidding, you guys, the ending is exactly the same!
Images: Ed Araquel/FOX (7)