Wrong side of the law

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

TRUE crime sto­ries tend to make pretty good tele­vi­sion but they also come with bag­gage.

And the pro­duc­ers of a new Aus­tralian se­ries called Killing Time know all too well the pit­falls of drama­tis­ing re­cent events for the small screen.

In fact, the real- life le­gal and crim­i­nal is­sues go­ing on in the back­ground of Killing Time are ev­ery bit as in­trigu­ing as the se­ries it­self. Killing Time is based on the true story of Mel­bourne de­fence lawyer An­drew Fraser ( played by David Wen­ham, pic­tured), who made a name for him­self rep­re­sent­ing the sorts of du­bi­ous char­ac­ters most bar­ris­ters would never touch.

The longer he spends li­ais­ing with this crim­i­nal un­der­world, the more in­ex­orably he is drawn into it and soon he ends up be­hind bars him­self.

The events por­trayed in the 10- part se­ries be­gin in the 1980s and con­tinue through to al­most the present day, which caused some prob­lems for the se­ries’ re­lease date.

It was orig­i­nally sched­uled to go to air on pay- TV chan­nel TV1 last year but had to be shelved at the last minute be­cause of on­go­ing court pro­ceed­ings. It is still dicey to go into much de­tail here.

While it is now legally safe for TV1 to go ahead with screen­ing the se­ries, only the first six episodes are sched­uled to go to air.

The re­main­ing four episodes deal much more closely with events per­tain­ing to the cur­rent court pro­ceed­ings, so they are still go­ing to be held back and screened at a later date. All very in­trigu­ing, no?

The se­ries it­self is worth the wait and le­gal wran­gling. Wen­ham is mag­nif­i­cent as Fraser, sup­ported by a host of sim­i­larly ex­cel­lent ac­tors in­clud­ing Colin Friels, Kate Jenk­in­son, Diana Glenn and John Brump­ton.

The screen­play shifts eas­ily be­tween Fraser’s early days of de­fend­ing known crim­i­nals and his more re­cent years in prison, telling a fairly com­plex story with beau­ti­ful flu­id­ity.

The story is based on Fraser’s books Court in the Mid­dle and Lu­natic Soup ( with a hefty dis­claimer in the clos­ing cred­its), so it’s worth keep­ing in mind that this is his ver­sion of events.

But as it’s also a story loaded with ac­tion, twists and turns, a bit of creative li­cence is pretty easy to for­give.

Killing Time is a sharp, solid and well- built drama se­ries that’s well worth the one- year wait. Killing Time, pre­mieres 8.30pm Wed­nes­day, on TV1.

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