Killing Time (2010)

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Released 28-Nov-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Drama More…-Enough Rope: Andrew Denton interviews Andrew Fraser
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 434:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Peter Andrikidis
Ian Watson
Kevin Carlin

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring David Wenham
Diana Glenn
Colin Friels
Kris McQuade
Richard Cawthorne
Malcolm Kennard
Case ?
RPI ? Music Charlie Chan

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
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 Yes, and drug use
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

“There’s no justice in losing”

     At the start of episode 1 of Killing Time, Andrew Fraser (David Wenham) has been sent to a maximum security prison and is the subject of some brutal treatment from the other inmates. The series then shifts back in time to 1985. Fraser is a member of a law firm defending clients including drug dealers and bikie gang members accused of assault. His reputation among the criminal class is such that he is approached by Kath Pettingul (Kris McQuade) claiming that her family, including sons Dennis (Richard Cawthorne), Victor (Malcolm Kennard) and his wife Wendy (Kate Jenkinson) and youngest Jason (Reef Ireland) have been suffering police persecution especially from Detective Alan Daniels (Nick Farnell). They pay Fraser a substantial retainer, in cash, and he becomes their on-call lawyer, drawn into their world of violence and drugs. Fraser explains his philosophy to his parents and his sister Sally (Louise Crawford), also a lawyer: “some of us are born to make the rules, others are born to break them”. There is never any doubt about where Fraser stands; another gem of his wisdom is ‘“there’s no justice in losing”, and Fraser intends to live a life in the limelight to the full.

     Along the way Fraser meets Denise (Diana Glenn), an industrial advocate, who he woos and marries.

     Over the course of the series Fraser becomes drawn into the murderous world of the increasing unstable Dennis Allen and the Melbourne underworld, which includes armed robbers, drug dealers, and gangs, developing a cocaine habit of his own. Fraser is also friendly with underworld figure Lewis Moran (Colin Friels). With the death of Dennis, the gang is taken over by Victor, whose preferred operation is armed robbery. When the Victorian Police Armed Robbery squad becomes frustrated, the police shoot dead Graeme, one of Victor’s gang; the response by the gang is to ambush and murder two constables in Walsh Street. Charged with murder, Victor and his associates go on trial, defended by Frasier who becomes notorious in the media for defending cop killers. Fraser and Denise receive death threats, and Victor and the others are found not guilty by a jury.

     His success brings Fraser to the attention of Alan Bond (John Wood), who is having his own troubles with the law. Fraser travels to Perth, leaving one baby and a pregnant Denise behind, to work for Bond, although his presence is resented by Bond’s other advisers. In Perth it is party time, and Fraser indulges in excessive drug use, drinking and womanising. Fraser is flying high, and neglects his old criminal clients in Melbourne, including Lewis Moran whose family is having issues with Detective Strawhorn (Shane Connor), a particularly bent cop. When Fraser is unable to keep Bond out of jail, he is dumped and dismissed back to Melbourne where his decline begins in earnest.

     In Melbourne, Fraser embarks on a self-destructive round of drug taking, use of prostitutes and drinking that puts a severe strain on his marriage. He is fired from his law firm, setting up on his own, but faces bankruptcy. Anxious to maintain his cocaine supply, he agrees with Uri (Alex Menglet) to participate in the importation of drugs from Africa. But Strawhorn has set up surveillance and listening devices in Fraser’s office, the importation is intercepted and Fraser arrested. He believes he may get 6 months, but for betrayal of trust the judge gives him 7 years. While in maximum security Fraser becomes aware of an additional murder committed by a convicted serial killer, and uses the information to bargain for an early release.

     Killing Time is brilliantly realised, compelling television. The locations are seedy and feel real, the acting excellent, with Richard Cawthorne mesmerising as the psychotic Dennis Allen while Colin Friels is much more understated, but no less violent. However, the series belongs, rightly, to David Wenham. Wenham’s Fraser is a flawed man; intelligent, privileged, arrogant, sure of his own path and contemptuous of the law and the “little people”, playing games with hurt and damaged witnesses in court if it will secure a release for his clients, whether they deserve one or not. Few people in his world are truthful, not the criminals, not the police, not the judiciary, and Fraser walks a line between them all, playing the game and enjoying the good life of drugs, drink and women.

     Killing Time is based upon real events, although dramatized for TV. The source material is two books written by Fraser Court in the Middle and Lunatic Soup. What made some of the episodes hard to watch for me is that everyone is corrupt and unlikeable; one cannot side with the police or Fraser. The scenes in the prison, which occur in each episode, show Fraser’s difficult time but don’t really hint at remorse or a change of character. The real impact of his self-destruction is upon his wife and two children and it is perhaps only Denise, Fraser’s sister Sally and his mother and father who have any ethics or morality. Thankfully, and truthfully, the series does not conclude on any uplifting happy ending.

     Another issue is one of pacing. The series covers in excess of 15 years, so naturally some characters appear briefly, then disappear forever, and the role of others is not explained. In addition, the earlier sections dealing with Kath Pettingul and her extended family are compelling and mesmerising in their violence, intensity and vibrancy, an intensity that is not matched when Fraser defends “white collar” criminals such as Alan Bond. The fall from grace, after all that has gone before, also feels rushed.

     Killing Time was made for TV1 and consists of 10 episodes, each approximately 44 minutes in length. Episodes 1-4 are on disc 1 of this 3 disc set, episodes 5-7 on disc 2, and episodes 8-10, plus the Andrew Denton interview, are on disc 3. Killing Time is compelling television, especially the depiction of the Melbourne underworld, and the Victorian Police, of the 1980s.

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Transfer Quality


     Killing Time is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This made for TV series uses natural colour and locations. The print is fairly soft overall, especially on a number of occasions when the light source was behind the actor, and the presentation had a grainy look that was, however, quite pleasing. Some shadow detail could be indistinct, colours were generally muted but occasionally garish. Blacks were good, as were skin tones. The sequences in prison have a much lighter, washed out look.

     I did not notice any marks on the print. There was minor ghosting with movement, and some light flare, but nothing too distracting.

     There were no problems with lip synchronisation.

     The English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.

     A good print of a recent pay TV series.

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


     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 256 Kbps. It is not surround encoded.

     Dialogue is easy to understand, which is important in a film with a lot of dialogue. The effects were not too bad, such as passing trains or a band, and the whole was quite effective. There was no rear or sub-woofer use.

     The original music by Charlie Chan is very good adding a moody feel to the drama. Some use was also made of contemporary music including songs from Hunters & Collectors, Models, Rose Tattoo and The Loved Ones.

    There is nothing wrong with the audio track and it gets the job done.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Enough Rope with Andrew Denton: Interview with Andrew Fraser (30:55)

     This Enough Rope interview with Andrew Denton took place a year after Fraser had been released, so well before the TV series was made. While there are some probing questions, there were many other things it would have been great to see asked if the interview were to be held today given our knowledge of events as presented in the TV series. It is still interesting and one gets a sense of how good David Wenham’s portrayal was.

R4 vs R1

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

     There does not seem to be another release of Killing Time available anywhere else.


     Killing Time is brilliantly realised, compelling television. David Wenham is excellent, and all the other actors are very good. However, everyone is corrupt and unlikeable so it is difficult to side with anyone and the final episodes cannot match the earlier sections dealing with Kath Pettingul and her extended family which are mesmerising in their violence, intensity and vibrancy.

     The video and audio are fine. The single extra is very good.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, January 03, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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