The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (2012)

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Released 5-Dec-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 100:34
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Shawn Seet

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Glen Dolman
Fergus Hume
Jessica De Gouw
Anna McGahan
John Waters
Shane Jacobson
Oliver Ackland
Case ?
RPI ? Music Cezary Skubiszewski

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     I was surprised to learn that this telemovie was based on an 1886 mystery novel written and published in Australia, which predated and outsold Sherlock Holmes' first adventure. It was written by Melbourne resident, Fergus Hume and was quite successful in Australia and then was published in London & New York, selling half a million copies worldwide. It was made into films three times before 1925 but then has not been used as source material for a movie or television until 2012, when the ABC produced the telemovie which is the subject of this review.

     The story, which is set in Melbourne, features the wealthy Frettlby family, presided over by successful grazier, Mark Frettlby (John Waters). His wife is dead but he lives with his much loved daughter, Madge (Jessica De Gouw) at the top end of Melbourne society. An Englishman, Oliver Whyte (Brett Climo) arrives in Australia and immediately seeks out Frettlby, blackmailing him into agreeing to marry Madge to him. Within two weeks, Whyte is found dead in a Hansom Cab, poisoned by chloroform. Who is responsible for the murder? Madge's hot-headed fiancé, Brain Fitzgerald (Oliver Ackland)? Madge's father? A mystery assailant? And what is the secret that made Frettlby give in to the blackmail in the first place? These and other twists and turns will be unveiled as the story progresses...

     The show also features Shane Jacobsen as Detective Gorby, Felix Williamson as his rival Detective Kilsip, Marco Chiappi as Barrister Duncan Calton and Helen Morse as Mother Guttersnipe.

     Those who enjoy classic mysteries like Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes (of the more traditional variety) will get something out of this production. The story is certainly interesting and draws out some interesting insights into the wealth divide in Melbourne society at the time. The production is competent without being outstanding, featuring some nice period detail but also a few obvious flaws like bitumen roads with lines on them, breathing dead people and some really ordinary accents. The acting is pretty good but no-one really turns in a better than average performance.

     If you missed it on television and enjoy the genre this show is worth a look.

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Transfer Quality


     The video quality is decent.

     The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     The picture was softer than most recent television productions although never worse than decent. Shadow detail was quite good.

     The colour is decent although faces often seemed pale and lips blue. There was also quite a lot of light colour bleeding adding to the softness.

     There was some mild macro-blocking during motion.

     There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which were clear and easy to read.

     The layer change is quite obvious, causing a pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The audio quality is reasonable.

     This disc contains an English soundtrack in Dolby Digital 2.0. Generally, the soundtrack was very front and centre.

     Dialogue was mostly easy to understand although the subtitles proved useful.

     The music is quite good adding to the atmosphere in an effective low key way.

     The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     A couple of extras are included.


     The menu featured music.

Behind the Scenes Featurette (42:42)

     This is actually an EPK including a short featurette (about 7 minutes) and then 35 minutes of interview snippets with cast & crew. Too much and yet somehow not enough either.

Trailer (2:18)

     Trailer for the show.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This seems to be the only version available to date.


    A good but not overwhelmingly good Australian telemovie based on a 1886 mystery novel.

    The video quality is decent.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    The extras are OK.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5005
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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