Wrong side of the law
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.