Broadchurch Series One (2013) created by Chris Chibnall
Police detective Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) returns from a vacation expecting to find a promotion to chief inspector in her hometown of Broadchurch, England. The town is a small seaside village where everyone knows everyone else; life is quiet and pleasant. Back in the office, she discovers Alec Hardy (David Tennant) has been hired to the post. He's a detective from another part of England who has both a disdain for their small town and an abrasively cold demeanor. They do not hit it off well since she loves her community and is warm and caring. When an eleven-year old local boy's body is found on the beach, the investigation spirals out of control as the personal secrets of almost everyone in town are revealed while the local and national media put the worst possible spin on discovered secrets.
With eight hour-long episodes, the series delves deep into the characters' histories and motivations. Hardy's coldness and drive to find the killer come from a past where he failed to help another family in similar circumstances. He sees Broadchurch as a place to do penance and to find redemption. The eleven-year old boy's family suffer through many different horrible circumstances and secrets. Miller's son was friends with the dead boy, providing a personal connection to the case (though practically everyone in town has personal connections except for Hardy). The local vicar is young and has been trying to connect to the community. He rises to the occasion as the town faces the death and the secrets that start people pointing fingers at each other. The local press is goaded into action by the arrival of a London news writer who senses many opportunities arising from the boy's death. All these different threads come together naturally, moving the drama and the investigation forward in compelling ways.
The show is also very even-handed in its characterizations. Everyone has flaws, some quite serious. At first a few people seem purely evil but eventually their own hard histories come to light, which may not justify their wrong choices but makes those choices understandable to a degree. The people are emotionally and intellectually gripping.
The murder mystery is also interesting though it acts as a catalyst for other human dramas. This show is no standard police procedural. The ending is devastating but satisfying. I am not sure how they have a second series but I will definitely give it a try.
I was inspired to watch this show by (you guessed it) the good folks at A Good Story is Hard to Find Podcast which discusses this series on Episode 103.