The northern California resort town of Gracepoint has lovely beaches, warm hospitality and one of the best whale-watching spots on the West Coast. It’s a great place to live and raise a family, so long as you’re not harboring terrible secrets.
In FOX’s 10-episode drama Gracepoint (Thursdays at 9pm ET/PT beginning Oct. 2), the lifeless body of 12-year-old Danny Solano is found on the beach, the apparent victim of a homicide. Leading the investigation are police detectives Emmett Carver (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (two-time Emmy winner Anna Gunn), who must sort through a long list of suspects that includes the boy’s neighbors, friends and family. As the investigation widens, long-buried secrets are unearthed and a media firestorm grows, fear and suspicion ravage the community.
Gracepoint is an adaptation of the acclaimed British series Broadchurch, which aired in the U.S. on BBC America last year. Renowned Scottish actor Tennant reprises his Broadchurch role, though his Gracepoint character is American and has a different name. “It’s such an unusual situation,” Tennant says of playing the same character in this iteration. “The spine of the story is the same, and the spine of the two characters is the same, but there’s very different flesh on the bones, I think.”
Carver is a no-nonsense outsider with plenty of his own issues, including a past case that continues to haunt him. He has zero interest in getting to know people, and wants people to know even less about him.
For Ellie, the investigation is much more personal, it becomes a source of friction with Carver. “What she’s trying to remind him of all the time is, ‘Remember, this is my town. These are real people who have been dealt a horrible blow. While your way may be to run roughshod over them, my way is to go in and just talk to them as people,’” Gunn says.
“The most unsettling piece for me was the part of Ellie that was still holding onto an idea that you really are innocent until proven guilty, and that there was something about her that wanted to give dignity and a fair shake to everybody,” Gunn says. “She had to start looking at the people in her town, her friends, her cohorts, her compatriots with an eye of suspicion. And that does something to a person, something very deep and rather disturbing.”
Viewers of Broadchurch won’t have their Gracepoint experience spoiled, as FOX’s adaptation shares the same starting point but then deviates from the original after a few episodes. Whereas Broadchurch was eight episodes, Gracepoint’s 10 episodes allow for some characters to get added depth, plus another suspect or two get thrown into the mix. “You’ll be able to see especially how the show starts to diverge in a lot of interesting ways from the original, and you’ll meet new characters along the way, new red herrings, new suspects,” executive producer Carolyn Bernstein says. “There will be characters that you will recognize from Broadchurch who have a much greater role in our show.”
Gracepoint’s producers promise that the case will be solved by the end of 10 episodes, but they won’t say if it will have the same conclusion as Broadchurch. Executive producer Dan Futterman says, “I don’t think you should rule anybody out as a suspect.”