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TV Series Review

The body of a 12-year-old boy is found on a California beach. His death was no accident, no suicide. Danny was murdered. And, according to the coroner, he would've been looking the killer in the eye as the deed was done.

But who did Danny see in that instant? Who killed him? And why?

So begins Fox's 10-episode mystery Gracepoint, a remake of the British network ITV's acclaimed miniseries Broadchurch. It blends an Agatha Christie-like whodunit with the brooding, bleak atmosphere of AMC's The Killing, ushering viewers into a small, seaside town where everyone harbors a secret.

Detectives Emmett Carver (David Tennant of both Broadchurch and Doctor Who fame) and Ellie Miller (from Breaking Bad) must unspool the secrets and lies the townsfolk tell. Carver, a big-city cop with a checkered past, has all the small-town charm of a grumpy pit bull, and he tears through the locals' longstanding lies as if they were crepe paper. Miller, who had been in line for Carver's job, approaches the case with softer gloves. A familiar face around the town of Gracepoint, she's good friends with Danny's grieving mom. And Danny and her own son, Tom, were thick as thieves. But when the prime suspects are people you've had coffee with, does that impact your ability to sniff out the truth?

This killer could be, indeed, almost anyone. Mark, a likable plumber and Danny's own father, has as much reason to grieve as a anyone—and yet his "plumbing emergency" alibi for the time of Danny's death isn't holding much water. Jack Reinhold, the gruff old boater (brought to colorful life by Nick Nolte) who was supposed to meet Danny for a whale-spotting outing, never called Danny's parents to say the boy didn't show up—and, of course, shelters his own secrets. Even Tom is hiding evidence from the police.

Watching Gracepoint, you start to wonder if you might need an alibi yourself before it's all over.

Gracepoint is built around its central mystery, its bone-chilling atmosphere and, of course, the town's hidden scandals that may (or may not) point to the killer. And it's here where this well-crafted miniseries can plow into some rough seas. Explicit content is (so far) minimal for such a gritty crime drama, but the show's salacious backstories get lots of narrative attention, at the very least. Drug use, sexual issues (including extramarital affairs, underage sex, gay relationships) and sordid motives aplenty are seemingly as numerous as the residents themselves. Even Paul Coates, Gracepoint's priest, is not the man of God he at first seems to be.

Through all of that, Gracepoint still manages to keep most of its focus on the tragedy that the murder of a child truly is. It's as obsessed as its police officers to see the killer brought to justice. So it may be that what you feel while watching this show will unsettle you more than what you see.


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Episode Reviews

Gracepoint: 10-2-2014



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Kevin Zegers as Owen; Sarah-Jane Potts as Gemma Fisher; David Tennant as Emmett Carver; Anna Gunn as Detective Ellie Miller; Jessica Lucas as Renee; Karyn Mott as Angela; Jack Irvine as Tom Miller; Adam Greydon Reid as Raymond Connelly; Alisen Down as Kathy Eaton; Darcy Laurie as Hugo Garcia; Tom Butler as Chief Morgan; Linda Darlow as Mary Parnell






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Paul Asay

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