Gracepoint, the almost frame by frame remake of Broadchurch from the United Kingdom, is stubbornly using a campaign of “who killed Danny.” Really? The tagline is hashtag #suspecteveryone but honestly, what is the point? Anyone who has a subscription to BBC America or has access to amazon.com knows who the killer is already. The issue with the way that FOX is flogging their American remake of a British seaside mystery is not that the network has chosen to make the series fit U.S. expectations, but that they are ignoring the fact of the show being a shot for shot re-imaging. The whodunit even has the same male lead, David Tennant.
It is perfectly understandable that Gracepoint producers may feel that the average American may have problems understanding English accents and the day to day existence of a fictional southwestern England seaside town, think Sidmouth or Dorset, where the denizens not only speak funny but they think differently and live differently. In terms of “topical” television, other shows popular with Americans who have seen the original show and liked it enough to transplant it from the U.K. to America, the hit and miss rate is fairly consistent since the days of All in the Family, U.S.; Till Death Do Us Part, U.K.; Steptoe and Son U.K. and Sanford and Son U.S. These are just two of the successful transferences of popular shows on the other side of the pond.
Since those halcyon days of instant hits from the conversion of British TV comedies, the hit rate is much lower than the miss. The Inbetweeners is a perfect example of a show that did not make the transition. A smash hit on England’s E4 network that spawned two films, the show was moved across the big pond in 2012 and died. The magic of the Internet and film streaming, which also includes television shows, means that the original shows can be seen at any time and still enjoyed, much like Gracepoint can be passed over for Broadchurch.
Anyone who watched the original The Inbetweeners would not be able to watch past the opening credits of the newer U.S. version. In a word…abysmal. The point is, that Gracepoint, or Broadchurch with American accents, and a different type of seaside town completely, knows who killed Danny already. Even if the more dour and downright nasty version of David Tennant’s character did not really know, all he would have to do is watch reruns on BBC America or buy the season on Amazon.
Of course one might point out that the above mentioned television shows are comedy and not a mystery, crime or thriller type of show. Point well taken. However, there have been transfers of the more serious type of show. Cracker, a drama, which in the United Kingdom starred the brilliant Robbie Coltrane, who proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he could do a hell of a lot more than just comedy, had a lead character who was a criminal forensic psychologist who was an alcoholic and gambling addict along with all his other personality problems. This was another show deemed popular enough to be brought over.
The curious, who are not so interested that they want to comparatively watch the two versions of the show can head over to IMDb and check out the ratings. U.K. Cracker ranks 8.4 and the U.S. version ranked 5.8. What a difference a setting makes. Just as in Gracepoint, these shows were shot by shot remakes that were “translated” to American shores although the aforementioned flops did very badly by comparison. Of course the same cannot be said of Gracepoint, it is just different but the same. Viewers of this show may really not know who killed Danny. Although all they have to do is watch the original series instead of Gracepoint and they will know. The U.S. makers of this mystery may change up who does it in the American version but that is highly doubtful. More than likely FOX is hoping that no one will head over and check out the original. Who knows? They may be right.
By Michael Smith