Remakes are tricky beasts. In television, some of them don’t try to advance from what the original series was aiming to do and just sit there, like the short-lived remake of “Viva Laughlin.” Others find a way to break out of the original’s model and turn into something great, like the long-running comedy “The Office.” After seeing seven episodes out of “Gracepoint” ’s ten episode run, it’s still unclear which path it will follow, either reinventing the original’s idea or settling for something much more generic.


“Limited Event Series” Premiere — 7 episodes screened for review
Thursdays at 9 p.m.

“Gracepoint,” is a remake of the ITV drama “Broadchurch,” and focuses on what happens in the small beach town of Gracepoint when 12 year old Danny Solano turns up dead. David Tennant (reprising his role from “Broadchurch”) and Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) play the detectives who are tasked with investigating the crime.

There’s a lot that’s worth celebrating in “Gracepoint.” The show features a vast cast of interesting characters who fill out the small town. Each member of the ensemble, which includes a grumbling and heartbreaking performance from Nick Nolte (“Luck”) in the David Bradley role and an eerie performance from Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook”), brings their character to life in a way that makes each of them pop in the proper moment. The show nails what it’s like to live in a small town where everyone knows everyone. The show’s locations are also highlights. Shot in British Columbia, standing in for California, the locations the show uses are gorgeous and the directors work to make sure that they feature in each shot in those scenes.

Ultimately, the best aspects of the show are Tennant and Gunn. Tennant, despite being saddled with an unfortunate American accent, gives a great performance. And, like Olivia Colman in “Broadchurch,” Gunn is the beating heart of “Gracepoint.” As she grows into the role, she gives an increasingly heartbreaking performance. Their relationship starts out with tension between the characters but as their friendship evolves, their scenes become the best parts of the show.

The big issue, however, is that “Gracepoint” is too similar to the already excellent “Broadchurch.” Everything great about the show is something that the British version did just as well, if not better. After seeing “Broadchurch,” every twist and turn in the first half of the series seems familiar instead of surprising. According to former FOX Chairman of Entertainment Kevin Reilly, the ending will be different, and the show starts to hint at differences in episode seven. But that doesn’t stop the first half from feeling like a less-subtle version of “Broadchurch” or help the fact that Tennant is giving a performance that’s nearly identical to his in the British version. The accent is different but a lot of the quirks and characteristics are the same.

It’s really unfortunate that’s the case, because on its own “Gracepoint” is actually quite good. However, given “Broadchurch” ’s recent run, which hits a lot of the same points in a much more subtle fashion, it’s hard to give a full recommendation to “Gracepoint.” That may change at the end of the season with the different ending, but for now, “Gracepoint” can’t be given all the credit it might otherwise deserve — and stays firmly in the shadow of the original.

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