‘Gracepoint’ Pilot: A Sunnier Stephen King-ish Mini Series

Courtesy of FOXGracepoint is FOX’s new who-dun-nit mini series staring Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) and David Tennant (Doctor Who) based on BBC America’s Broadchurch which aired last year. I have not seen Broadchurch and I am looking forward to remaining spoiler-free for Gracepoint’s full 10-episode. That being said, I’m intrigued.

It feels different for FOX, I must say. The mini series angle itself is a breath of fresh air on network TV, the dying breed it is.  It’s Top of the Lake but faster paced which may or may not be a good thing.

The Setup/A-Story: The episode starts with a young boy standing on the edge of a cliff at night, looking over the beach below, crying. From there it cuts to his mother, Beth Solano (Virginia Kull), waking up from a dream.  It is unclear whether what we just saw was her dream or not, but this is likely a purposeful misdirection.  At breakfast, her son Danny is not home and has left his lunch behind but the family (dad, sister, grandmother) casually assumes he went out with his morning wildlife group.  Beth’s husband Mark (Michael Pena) walks to work down Gracepoint’s mainstreet greeting all he meets.  It’s a small town and we can assume that the cast of characters he encounters will fall into the deep suspect pool that the series has promoted (#SuspectEveryone)

Det. Ellie Miller (Gunn) is among the crowd.  She is a Graceland Police Detective, married with a 12-year old son, Tom — Danny’s best friend.  Having just returned from vacation she is enraged and heart-broken to learn that the promotion she was promised before leaving has been given to an out-of-towner, Emmett Carver (Tennant).

When Danny is found at the Gracepoint beach, at the bottom of a cliff, Ellie (don’t call her Miller!) and her new boss-slash-partner, Carver, are put on the case.  They break the news to the Solanos who are, of course, devastated.

B-Stories

  • A young Gracepoint reporter, Owen (Ellie’s nephew), leaks Danny’s name via Twitter before the police is able to make an official release.  A reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle gets wind of it and begs her editor to allow her to cover the story in Gracepoint.
  • Ellie breaks the news of Danny’s death to her son who seems to take it to heart until Ellie leaves the room and he proceeds to delete every text message between him and Danny as well as wipe his PC hard drive.
  • Ellie and Carver interview Jack Reinhold, head of the Wildlife Club (i.e. Boy Scout whalewatching badge), as they suspect him for not reporting Danny’s absence that morning.

What We Know

  • Beth last checked on Danny at 9pm.
  • Mark claims was out until 3am on an “emergency” plumbing job. Right.
  • Carver has some shady history back at his old job in Rosemont.  One he was hoping to get away from in Gracepoint.
  • Danny’s body seemed as though he fell/jumped from the cliff on to the beach but forensics show that it was staged.
  • Danny died between 10pm – 4am from blunt trauma to the head.  He faced his attacker.
  • Danny was riding his bike around town in the middle of the night.  Likely snuck out, was not taken.
  • Nick Nolte isn’t dead yet.

What We Don’t Know

  • Everything else.

What We Liked

  • Seeing Anna Gunn again.
  • Small sleepy Stephen King cape town with a big Stephen King cast.
  • Knowing there’s an answer!

What We Didn’t Like

  • Music, cinematography, and characters lacking in the creepiness department
  • Over-acting

Should you watch it this:  If you like the guessing games, yes.  It’s not scary though — at least not yet.  You can find the pilot On Demand and then watch episode 2 on Thursday night.  Plus, it’s only 10 episodes and I have a feeling the big reveal will be worth it since Broadchurch was highly talked about.  I’ll keep at it.

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