Category Archives: Australian Crime Drama

ITVX confirms transmission date for The Twelve

ITV’s streaming service, ITVX, has confirmed that the Australian version of The Twelve -starring Sam Neill – will premiere on Thursday 16th February.  

This courtroom drama, based on Belgian series De Twaalf, tells the story of 12 ordinary Australians who are selected for jury duty in a murder trial as traumatising as it is controversial, in which a woman stands accused of killing her teenage niece.

Behind the façade of their anonymity, these twelve ordinary people bring with them their own histories. Lives that are as complex as the trial, full of fractured dreams, shameful secrets, hope, fears, personal trauma, and prejudice. Through the multiple lenses of these jurors, audiences will see the fragility and imbalances of the law, and the chaotic and flawed way we attempt to determine justice in our society.

The limited series also stars Marta Dusseldorp and Kate Mulvany.

Here’s a trailer…


We’ve seen the Australian Outback, and more specifically Australian Indigenous culture, depicted in series like Mystery Road before to good effect.

But Acorn TV’s True Colours (shown on SBS in its native Australia) take things onto new levels of exploration, taking in as it does kinship systems and complex hierarchies within Aboriginal culture, ‘sorry business’ and racism, casual or otherwise.

It’s riveting and engrossing, and its setting and culture make it a must-watch. But strip away all the fascinating Aboriginal culture, and True Colours is, at its heart, a good, old-fashioned police procedural.

Filmed entirely on location in the Northern Territory – in and around Mparntwe (Alice Springs), Amoonguna Aboriginal Community and the Yeperenye – this four-part series stars the hugely likeable Rarriwuy Hick as detective Toni Alma, a headstrong and at the end of her tether woman. Her relationship is falling apart, she perpetuates petty (but oh-so-satisfying revenge) on the perpetrator of racism and she just seems at a dead end in her life – not taken seriously in society because of her ethnicity and not taken seriously at home or at work.

To get her out of her hair, her boss sends her to the community where she spent her childhood to investigate the murder of a young woman who had crashed her car. Her uncle, Samuel Alma (Warren H. Williams) is the local community police officer

She needs to navigate two sets of laws in the hunt for a killer, plus personal complications: and her ex, Nick Gawler (Luke Arnold), has been assigned as her partner in the investigation. 

Add in that her brother becomes a prime suspect in the investigation, and you get a few plot twists that defy belief – it’s like the writers sat down and asked each other how they could make Toni’s life as uncomfortable as they could. Let’s make her go back to her community and work with people who eye her with suspicions, let’s team her with the ex she was recently dumped by, and let’s make her own brother as a prime suspect. You get the picture.

And yet, despite all of this, True Colours is really engrossing. The group meetings with the elders as they make art are just great – full of warmth and humour – Toni’s interactions with her wily, sage mother are great, and we get to learn how some of the sacred stones and culture are exploited to make money. And, of course, we get to see some of the Aborigine customs, especially when it comes to rituals surrounding the death of a community member.

And these are the things that elevate True Colours above the norm. What could have been a fairly run-of-the-mill procedural is actually a very solid, (what feels like) a very authentic portrayal of the Indigenous community and a very captivating and compelling murder mystery. Recommended.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 4 out of 5.

True Colours is available to watch on Acorn TV in the UK


BBC Four confirms Mystery Road: Origin for January

BBC Four has confirmed the transmission date of Mystery Road: Origin in January.

The original story became a fan favourite with crime drama fans, and now the origin series makes its way to UK screens.

The six-part series tells the story of Jay Swan (Mark Coles Smith), a young officer who arrives at his new station in the town where his estranged father lives, as does the woman who will change his life forever, Mary.

Mystery Road: Origin: Saturday 7th January, 9pm, BBC Four

SBS drops new trailer for True Colours and reveals transmission date

One of the shows we’re looking forward to seeing – when it comes to the UK – is Australian series, True Colours.

Now we have a new trailer and know when it’s going to be on.

Set in the fictional community of Perda Theendar against the backdrop of the Northern Territory’s Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and Yeperenye (East MacDonnell Ranges), the series is in English and Arrernte, and has been described as a ground-breaking insight into the Arrernte peoples’ connection to art and cultural practices.  

Detective Toni Alma, played by Rarriwuy Hick, is assigned to investigate a suspicious car accident in Perda Theendar, the Aboriginal community she left as a child and has had little to do with over the years. The beauty of Aboriginal art and the sometimes-devious practices in the global art market lead Detective Alma on a hunt for a killer in her hometown.

The cast also includes Errol Shand, Emilie de Ravin, Trisha Morton Thomas and Ben Oxenbould, and is rounded out by local talent, many of whom count the series as their first acting role: Sabella Kngwarraye Ross Turner, Kurt Abbott, Kumalie Kngwarraye, Natalie Pepperill, Warren ‘Wazza’ Williams, Grant Wallace, Janaya Kopp, Siobhan Breaden, Genise Williams, Martin McMillan, Keenan Mitchell, Stella McMillan, Rosario Young, and Waylon Dixon.

Look out for it on 4th July on SBS in Australia.

Australian version of The Twelve set to premiere in June

One of our favourite shows from a couple of years ago – The Twelve (or De Twaalf) from Belgium) is getting an Aussie remake.

It takes the original premise of 12 ordinary people, who are selected for jury duty in a murder trial as traumatising as it is controversial, in which a woman stands accused of killing her teenage niece.

Celebrated actor Sam Neill stars as a defence barrister, while the cats is rounded out by Marta Dusseldorp, Kate Mulvany, Jenni Baird, Matt Nable, Silvia Colloca and Coco Jack Gillies.

It premieres in Australia on Foxtel, on 21st June.


Australian crime drama True Colours drops first trailer

Australian crime drama True Colours has dropped its first trailer.

The series, which will premiere this year on SBS, looks to be an intriguing addition to a sub-genre that examines the country’s long and fascinating pre-colonial history.

The channel describes True Colours as a breakneck mystery that “takes viewers deep into the world of a First Nations community as it has never been seen before”.

The series starts with the investigation of a car accident but soon turns into an epic hunt for a killer. 

Here’s the trailer…

There’s no transmission date for Australia, let along the UK (nor a channel), but we’ll let you know when we know.

Mystery Road starts filming series three… without Aaron Pedersen

Australian facourite Mystery Road is coming back for a third series, but with a major difference – star of series one and two, Aaron Pederson, is not returning in the title role.

The new six-part series, has been rebranded Mystery Road: Origin and will air in Australia on ABC in 2022. The past two series were broadcast in the UK on BBC Four.

Instead, Mystery Road: Origin will delve into the early years of Detective Jay Swan, with Mark Coles Smith playing the role of Young Jay.

It’s 1999, and Constable Jay Swan, a charismatic young officer arrives at his new station. Fresh from the city and tipped for big things, Jay might be the new copper, but he’s not new to this town. His estranged father Jack lives here, as does the woman who will change his life forever, Mary.

ABC says: “Mystery Road: Origin will explore how a tragic death, an epic love, and the brutal reality of life as a police officer straddling two worlds, form the indelible mould out of which will emerge, Detective Jay Swan.”

Toby Leonard Moore, Daniel Henshall, Lisa Flanagan, Clarence Ryan, Steve Bisley, Caroline Brazier, Hayley McElhinney, Dubs Yunupingu, Kelton Pell, Leonie Whyman, Salme Geransar and Nina Young.

More news as we get it.


Acorn TV acquires Operation Buffalo and names transmission date

Inspired by true events, Operation Buffalo is a satiric thriller with a dark edge, that shines a light on a little known and highly controversial part of Australia’s modern history – the British nuclear testing in the South Australia Outback at the height of the Cold War.

The six-part series has been acquired by Acorn TV for UK broadcast and tells the tale of undercover operations and questionable behaviour at a time where no one knew who to trust or what to believe.

The year is 1956 and the Menzies Government has welcomed British atomic bomb testing at remote, ‘uninhabited’ Maralinga. Major Leo Carmichael, played by Ewen Leslie is the high-ranking military engineer running the show. He must pick up the slack left by the ageing and incompetent General “Cranky” Crankford (James Cromwell) and get the base ready for a surprise visit from some very important guests. 

With the imminent arrival of the British High Commissioner (William Zappa) along with Australian Attorney-General (Tony Martin) and Defence Minister (Alan Dukes), things start to fall apart. First, someone disappears from the base, then meteorologist Eva Lloyd-George (Jessica de Gouw) sent by M16, arrives to investigate a critical data leak. 

Operation Buffalo: From Monday 7th December, Acorn TV

New Gold Mountain: Filming begins on ‘ambitious’ Australian crime drama

Filming has begun on Australian period crime drama, New Gold Mountain, called one of the country’s most “ambitious” ever dramas.

It tells the untold story of the Australian gold rush from the perspective of Chinese miners who risked everything for a chance at unlikely fortune in a new land. Inspired by real life, the series follows a group of compelling characters brought together by a mysterious murder and takes an unprecedented look into the wild west era of the Australian gold rush.

A spokesperson for the show’s home channel, SBS, said: “New Gold Mountain is our first foray into period drama, and one of our most ambitious projects yet. This daring and intense series is distinctly SBS, showcasing the complex relationships and tensions between the migrant gold miners of the 1850s within the legacy of the Victorian Goldfields.”

Also appearing in the series is Leonie Whyman, Sam Wang, Rhys Muldoon, Alison Bell, Chris Mah and Travis Cotton.

More news as we get it.


REVIEW: Mystery Road S2 (E5&6/6)

Mystery Road concluded it’s second season this week, and it’s fair to say that it’s been a bit of a dog’s dinner. Weird and uneven performances, frustrating character choices and nonsensical plot lines have all piled up to a dizzying degree.

Is the road finally running out for this show?

Immediately, the tension that was painstakingly built up in last week’s episodes around Mary and Simon (or Declan) evaporated within minutes when she simply took his car keys and left the villa. Quite why so much heavy weather was made out of repetitive shots of a handgun secretly stashed in the kitchen is anybody’s guess, but more puzzling was the fact Simon let her go at all. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of many odd choices on his part in these closing episodes.

Mary drives immediately to Jay and tells him what he already knows – that Simon is the real boss of the drug running gang. She also delivers some seriously stark home truths about Jay’s habit of consistently dragging her into dangerous situations, which is absolutely warranted – although might not have been the ideal time and place when you’ve got a psychopath on your tail.

Despite the fact Simon is clearly very, very dodgy, Mary has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to his affections. She is still torn between wanting to believe he is genuinely in love with her rather than being used as bait to trap Jay. In a spectacularly stupid move, she calls him to present him the kind of option even teenage sweethearts would cringe at – meet me at work and I’ll know you’re for real, or don’t and it’s over.

This is to set up a stand-off at the hospital, of course. It goes about as well as you would imagine – Jay tries to arrest Simon but is frustrated by the ex-cop, who pulls the kind of weird stunt you would see in a hokum psychological thriller – holding his bloodied hands up to intimate he’d hurt Mary before escaping. Quite why he needed to cut his own hands to do this rather than just scarper (Jay’s not going to shoot him in a crowded hospital corridor), was another example of any kind of common sense quickly deserting the story.

Ultimately this scene was part of larger attempt to spin out the inevitable showdown between the two protagonists, which dragged on for a mind-numbing amount of time. Why didn’t Jay and his Internal Affairs pal immediately set out to arrest Simon? Or call for any back-up? Instead they just chilled out at the police station looking moody, a segment purely designed to have Jay located there so he could be immediately arrested for an assault on troubled Phillip (something cooked up by Simon, who apparently had the foresight to organise this within an hour of his escape). The speed with which this whole situation was wrapped up (literally five minutes) had me questioning why it was even there in the first place – it served absolutely no purpose, other than to pad out the episode.

Predictably, things boiled down to shoot-outs everywhere to ‘solve’ the case. Jay shoots a few hired goons at the hotel where Mary and Shevorne are holed up, and Simon escapes. Jay tracks him down later and shoots it out with him again, but Simon escapes again. I’m not sure of how the geographical locations in this show are spaced out, but Simon sure can cover some miles as he zips around the locality causing mayhem without arrest. Eventually, Jay is tipped to his final location and shoots him dead with a single shot as he tries to abscond by sea with one final drug haul. No paperwork! Success. The End.

Of course, that’s not the real end – and there’s plenty of story to wrap up here, in varying degrees of satisfactory closure. Mary hits the road again, leaving town and Jay behind. There is a lot of frustration as a viewer in how Mary seems doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Jay is effectively stalking his ex-wife from town to town, and his presence inevitably brings death and destruction with it.

Even though she can articulate this sentiment emotionally to Jay, Mary seems almost resigned to her fate now – and it’s arguably the same situation she was in at the end of the first season. So what’s really changed this season, other than to up the ante on her being unnecessarily harmed to further embolden Jay in his crusade against criminals? There doesn’t seem to be many lessons learned here, and despite Tasma Walton giving one of the best performances in the show, the character remains a means to an end for the plot rather than a three-dimensional person.

Sandra doesn’t fare much better. Her conversations with Leonie across the final episodes might have added a little depth to her character, but overall the role has been perfunctory at best. It also got me wondering if our experiences with Sofia Helin’s previous roles slightly skewed the audience’s attitude toward the character overall – against her being played by another, lesser-known actor.

Despite Leonie’s tired resignation toward Sandra’s attempts to correct the mistakes of her academic predecessors, it felt like we were expected to afford her some sympathy for her actions. But considering she hid Buddy’s remains for so long to ensure she could continue at the dig, her motivations seem largely selfish. If this moral ambivalence had been amplified somewhat throughout the season, it might have made the character a little more rounded. Instead, most of her dialogue felt awkward and stilted – and primarily to bring some more context to the situation of the local indigenous population.

The indigenous story here felt the best part of the show – indeed a better show in of itself. Fran’s pursuit of the truth within her own community became the strongest narrative arc as a result, with Jada Alberts’ performance being impeccable throughout. The complexities of Aboriginal law against that of the state provided some prescient echoes of similar themes from the recent ITV show Honour, and were arguably the most absorbing elements on offer this season.

Largely forgotten by the state, the fates of Buddy and Zoe still bore a deep wound within the indigenous community. There was something about their story that felt like the real heart of the show, away from all the cowboy antics of Jay and his adversaries. It provided us with some stand-out scenes, most notably in Fran’s reaction to the truth about the star-crossed lovers’ final moments, as well as an emasculated Jimmy Two facing the wrath of his local community – an almost cathartic process given that many of them knew the truth for so long too.

And what of Jay? With Simon dead and the cartel in disarray, you might be forgiven for thinking that his story has come to an end. To get there, he has lost everything – family, friends and the respect from his peers. Was it all worth it? We don’t get to find out – largely due to the rumours of a third series you might suspect – and instead we get to enjoy a little coda between Fran and him, passing on the mantle of being a “proper copper” to her by way of his trademark cowboy hat.

Aaron Pedersen’s performance throughout this run has been a curiously erratic affair in comparison with what has gone before it. The mysterious stoicism of the first season has been replaced with a intense gruffness that borders on the comical. Jay Swan as a character used to be a little deeper, a little more thoughtful. You weren’t always sure what he was thinking, and Pedersen captured that nuance perfectly. Here, it’s lost in translation and it’s a strangely discombobulated thing to experience.

The show has never offered too much depth, and that’s fine. It knows what it is, and in that regard, it does deliver. It’s almost become an action thriller in a way, as opposed to the meditative crime drama it once was. That transition may be on purpose, as the show feels like it doesn’t have many more places it can go from it’s current perspective. That might be for the best, because as much as I have enjoyed the journey, Mystery Road feels like it’s run it’s course.

Random Notes

  • Simon/Declan reassuring Mary that he hasn’t killed Jay (yet) out of respect for her, isn’t as reassuring as he thinks it is.
  • So Alkemi was a bit of a red herring in the end, it seemed – and met a particularly robust end with a spade to the head. And who’s cleaning up all the blood from the pool?
  • Simon’s hired goons were ‘the best of the best’ – until they weren’t, when they all got shot dead in two minutes.
  • Speaking of goons, did this dodgy dude posse all shop at the same place? Identical floral shirts and white vests doesn’t exactly help you blend in anywhere.
  • Owen suddenly growing a conscience in the last act was very convenient, pity he got a bullet to the chest for his efforts.
  • Poor Mary can’t even buy a bag of crisps in peace without being held at gunpoint. What’s a girl gotta do to get some carbs round here?
  • Simon going full criminal mastermind in these final episodes and continually antagonising Jay was a weird choice. Criminals stay out of prison by avoiding the law, not facing it head on. Why not just do a runner with the cash you already have?
  • Couldn’t Sofia Helin use a bowl to deposit her peanut shells into? I pity the poor bartender that’s got to clear that mess up.
  • Alkemi’s right-hand man did a switch on him to join Simon, who then shot him. A goon’s life is an unhappy (and short) one.
  • Would it kill you to call back-up at least once Jay?
  • So we’re just going to go ahead and believe Jay can kill a man from considerable distance with a rifle, who is on a moving target in the middle of an ocean? With one shot? OK then.
  • Speaking of which, was it just me or was there a continuity error here? Simon is shot in one side of his chest, and in the next scene he’s clutching the other side.
  • Is there ANY due process in this show? I mean, Jay shot Simon without warning, or even being in danger as Simon was unarmed as he escaped. Jay has killed a lot of people dead and doesn’t stop for paperwork or any type of investigation.

Andy D

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Mystery Road is currently available on BBC iPlayer