I’m no “Doctor Who” fan, but when I saw David Tennant would be appearing as who seems to be the leading man in “Gracepoint,” I figured I would give Barty Crouch Jr. a chance. Though it seemed like the odds were stacked against the Fox mini-series — particularly because of its time slot — I decided I would tune in. And my reaction to “Gracepoint” is solely lackluster.
The opening reveals to the audience that young Danny Solano is out of bed at a late hour looking like he is about to jump to his death while tears stream down his face. Cue the next day where everyone goes about their routine as usual, save no one’s alarm going off, and his whole family just assumes Danny has left for school. It’s not until mid-way through the morning when Beth Solano (Virginia Kull) learns from one of Danny’s teachers that he never showed up for school. But shouldn’t the school district call you if your child doesn’t show up for school first thing in the morning?
Leading up to the discovery of Danny’s disappearance, Gracepoint seems to be a small town where everyone knows each other, but there is no idyllic Stars Hollow vibe here. With menacing music foreshadowing his son’s death, we follow Mark Solano (Michael Peña) as he seems to be involved in everyone’s lives in Gracepoint. The Solano family is even good friends with detective Ellie Miller (Anna Gunn), who ends up investigating Danny’s death with newly appointed detective Emmett Carver (Tennant) — who just so happens to have been given the job Miller was vying for. As an outsider to the town, Emmett Carver may be at the top of many people’s lists as the culprit in Danny Solano’s death. Tennant’s character does seem to know how to get the job done though, but also seems ego-centric and not care about the sense of community the small town of Gracepoint has.
With back stories and crucial information galore, if you blink, you’ll definitely miss something dire to the plot. But the plot isn’t adding up to be the leaves-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat, whodunit story as other shows have done.
Though I am like every other viewer and the residents of Gracepoint and want to know who killed Danny Solano, there are many questions about this drama that don’t portray a realistic storyline. What 11 year old has a framed photo of himself and his best friend in his room? Why were there so many people milling about the beach if it was closed off as a crime scene? While there are legalities involved about releasing the name of a deceased child, wouldn’t the news have broken in the tiny hamlet earlier than the local reporter sending it out? Or wouldn’t people suspect the identity of the dead body on the beach when there were crime scene investigators storming the Solano house? And how convenient is it that San Francisco Globe reporter Renee (Jessica Lucas) knows detective Carver? I know it’s Hollywood and that means A) it doesn’t have to be realistic as long as it entertains and B) Hollywood takes numerous liberties when it comes to a detective drama, but these instances in the first episode leave me more confused than curious about the crime.
All in all, I give Fox’s mini-series a C. It has a compelling, can-the-audience-figure-it-out-first storyline, but to me, the writing and setup of the show just don’t draw me in. And it looks like I’m not the only one who feels this way. Rotten Tomatoes gives the show a 69 percent on its Tomatometer (but the audience score is at a hefty 83 percent). After the premiere, IMDb has “Gracepoint” rated at 7.9 out of 10 stars. Even other reviewers at Entertainment Weekly and Variety have mixed feelings about this show. To me, the actors worked well with the synopsis they were given, but something about “Gracepoint” just doesn’t work. It falls flat compared to all the crime-solving, mystery-filled dramas out there. Slow-mo shots, ominous music and lens flares dominate the screen in this show, and while the camera people and artistic ideas in a show should be praised, to me they don’t add anything to “Gracepoint.” Maybe Fox should just stick with superhero shows for now.