Guys, We Need To Talk About The Gracepoint Trailer
This is not what I expected in that it is exactly what I expected.
Remaking a British television show for American audiences is a time-honored tradition going all the way back to the early ’70s, when Till Death Do Us Part was first adapted into All in the Family. Sometimes it goes beautifully, and you end up with a new and interesting take on an established premise. Sometimes, you get a less artful shot-for-shot remake of the original. Sadly, Gracepoint’s looking like the latter.
Here is the trailer for those of you who, like me, have been purposefully avoiding it on the grounds that it might give you flashbacks to the 2010 Death at a Funeral remake trailer. If you shared those very specific fears, then you were right: this is James Marsden naked on a rooftop all over again.
It’s not that there’s anything actually wrong with what we see in the above. Anna Gunn is a capable actress and it’s refreshing to see her in a position of power after 6 seasons of putting up with Walter White’s crap. It’s always nice to get more of David Tennant, too — even if, to allude back to Death at a Funeral again, his American accent is basically the reverse of the faux-British one Peter Dinklage uses in Game of Thrones (meaning that they’re not distractingly awful, but they’re also not fooling anyone). And yeah, finding dead kids on pretty beaches is always going to be an interesting premise for a television show, so there’s no doubt that Gracepoint will achieve a good amount of commercial success on FOX.
But if you’re at all familiar with the original ITV series, what little we’ve seen of Gracepoint right now seems… hollow. It’s not just the exact same storyline as Broadchurch: it appears to be the exact same show, but with a glossy network TV and one or two American flags thrown in. Heck, most of the characters still have the same first and sometimes last names — something that even the Death at a Funeral remake didn’t do. I know that Chris Cribnail is responsible for both the Broadchurch series and the Gracepoint pilot, but c’mon, dude. It didn’t occur to you to come up with some different names?
For comparison, here is the official Broadchurch trailer.
As the Gracepoint trailer appears to focus only on the first few episodes of the series, there are some gaps in what we would expect from a shot-for-shot remake — most notably, the overall role of religion and spirituality in the series. Despite my misgivings about the series, I still find myself hoping that these thematic elements will make an appearance in the remake. It would be odd to stick so fastidiously to Broadchurch‘s first episode, but then leave out something with so much potential for a uniquely American perspective.
And fastidious, it is. Check out a side-by-side of Beth Latimer and Beth Solano hearing the news about a body having been found on the beach. Even the camera angles and costuming are eerily similar. The only difference appears to be in the lighting (Gracepoint appears much brighter and warmer-hued) and in where Beth is facing (Broadchurch focuses its attentions on the actor’s face):
FOX has assured fans of the original that it isn’t the exact same story, in that a different murderer will be revealed at the end (and for the record I am still a few episodes away from the end of Broadchurch, so let’s please be cool about spoilers). But as compelling as a murder mystery is, it’s not the whodunit that makes the original series so interesting. It’s the little details of life in Broadchurch, and in the way that the town grieves for Danny, that really strikes a chord and raises the Latimers’ story above the din of generic crime dramas.
And that’s why I’m so disappointed in what I see of Gracepoint so far. If you have the chance to take such a fantastic concept — bringing a story about the death of a child to life using soul-crushing realism — and transplant it to a different country for a different audience, then why wouldn’t you choose to adapt it in a way that plays to the strength of your new setting? A beachside town makes sense for a country that’s surrounded on all sides by water, but why does Gracepoint have to be the same type of town? Why not move it into the Midwest? And why does Beth still have to be called Beth? Why is she wearing almost exactly the same red dress as she did in Broadchurch, right down to the neckline?
Faithfulness to the original source material is all well and good, but when you’re working in the exact same medium as the work you’re adapting, you should be willing to come up with something new to say to your audience — even if it’s only in wardrobe choice. Judging from the trailer alone, Gracepoint isn’t quite there, which does not inspire me with a whole lot of confidence about the kind of show it wants to be.
(trailer via The Mary Sue)
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