Olivia Colman and David Tennant are back and in reassuringly fine fettle as dedicated (and very much loved) smalltown cops DS Ellie Miller and DI Alec Hardy whose beat is the never tranquil Dorset coastal resort of Broadchurch.
This third and reportedly final series (creator Chris Chibnall is moving on, take over the running of BBC behemoth Doctor Who) turns its back on the murders of previous series and, three years on, takes as its subject the difficult and emotionally unsettling subject of rape and serial sexual assault.
The result, to judge from the opening episode, is a supremely gripping return to form, free of the grandiosity and unlikely courtroom antics of the ill-judged second season and promising just as much moral murk and shocking twists as the debut run that gripped the nation with its debut story of child murder back in 2013.
Lots of cast members return (Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Carolyn Pickles, Andrew Darvill et al) to ensure the precious familiarity, intimacy and continuity of the smalltown setting are preserved. But, initially at least, it is new cast members Sarah Parish, Lenny Henry, Georgina Campbell and the brilliant Julie Hesmondhalgh who are most likely to get us gathering around our watercoolers, picking over the clues and red herrings, speculating on the darkness yet to come. Gerard O'Donovan