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"Jack Irish": Set 1 Blu-ray + DVD Review

Jack Irish: Blu-ray + DVD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Jack Irish: Set One (2012)
Series, Blu-ray & DVD Details

Director: Jeffrey Walker / Writers: Andrew Knight ("Bad Debts" screenplay), Matt Cameron ("Black Tide" screenplay), Peter Temple (novels)

Producer: Ian Collie / Executive Producers: Andrew Knight, Carole Sklan, Christopher Gist

Regular Cast: Guy Pearce (Jack Irish), Marta Dusseldorp (Linda Hillier), Aaron Pedersen (Cam Delray), Roy Billing (Harry Strang), Damien Richardson (Drew Greer), Shane Jacobson (Barry Tregear), Vadim Glowna (Charlie Taub)

Recurring Characters: Terry Norris (Eric Tanner), Ronald Falk (Norm), John Flaus (Wilbur), Damien Carvey (Stan)

Bad Debts Guest Stars: Colin Friels (Garth Bruce), Steve Bisley (Kevin Pixley), Emma Booth (Isabel Irish), Alicia Gardiner (Sue McKillop), Heather Mitchell (Mrs. Vane), Nicholas Bell (Martin Scullin), Marshall Napier (Father Gorman), Denis Moore (Lance Pitman)

Black Tide Guest Stars: Don Hany (Dave), Diana Glenn (Lyall Cronin), Alexandra Schepisi (Meryl Canetti), Lachy Hulme (Dean Canetti), Nicholas Coghlan (Gary Connors), Ronald Jacobson (Des Connors), Neil Melville (Ricky Kirsch), Rhys Muldoon (Rod Pringle), Kate Atkinson (Simone Bendtsen)

Running Time: 202 Minutes (2 telemovies) / Rating: Not Rated

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio (English); DVD: Dolby Surround 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Extra Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Originally Aired in Australia October 14, 2012 to October 21, 2012
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99 / Blu-ray Release Date: October 1, 2013
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-9) / Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($39.99 SRP)

Buy Jack Irish: Set 1 at Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD • DVD

Since bursting onto the American film scene in 1997's L.A. Confidential, Australian actor Guy Pearce hasn't really looked back.
While his post-Memento leading man status wore off quickly, he's remained plenty visible in Oscar winners (The King's Speech, The Hurt Locker), tentpoles (Iron Man 3, Bedtime Stories) and everything in between (Lawless, Lockout). Pearce has returned to Australia for only the occasional film (e.g. the acclaimed 2010 crime family drama Animal Kingdom). More recently, he accepted leading man duties in an Australian television series of mysteries, "Jack Irish".

Closely resembling the ubiquitous UK model, "Jack Irish" unfolds at its own pace. It occupied two-hour timeslots on successive Sunday nights in October 2012. A third installment has been shot and is scheduled to premiere in 2014 and there are plans for at least another two after that. Americans, meanwhile, get their introduction to the series on Tuesday via Acorn Media's release of Set 1 on DVD and in the Blu-ray + DVD combo pack reviewed here.

Guy Pearce plays criminal lawyer turned debt collector Jack Irish in the Australian noir television series bearing his name.

Based on the series of novels penned by South African emigrant Peter Temple from 1996 to 2003, these cast Pearce in the titular role. The opening sequence of the first adaptation, Jack Irish: Bad Debts (1:43:57, originally aired October 14, 2012) shows us how Jack Irish fell from a successful criminal lawyer to a scrappy debt collector after a disgruntled former client turned him into a widower.

Nowadays, Jack Irish "lives off his wits." He gambles on horses. He drinks. He hangs out at the Prince of Prussia Hotel pub in the Melbourne suburb Fitzroy, where old men gather to watch videocassettes of 15-year-old Australian football matches. While in Sydney on a menial but dangerous job, Jack misses multiple phone calls from one Danny McKillop, a client he represented in a 2001 fatal hit-and-run case. By the time Jack returns the calls, McKillop is already dead, shot by police in a "car park" (parking lot). Something about that doesn't sit well with Jack, prompting him to take a fresh look at the long-closed case for which McKillop served a jail sentence.

Jack's investigation leads him to Linda Hillier (Marta Dusseldorp), the newspaper journalist who reported on McKillop's trial way back. Besides starting up a romance, the two dig deeper, following a trail of suspicious deaths to an apparent police conspiracy involving high-ranking government officials.

In "Bad Debts", journalist Linda Hillier (Marta Dusseldorp) discovers the dangers of associating with Jack Irish. In "Black Tide", Jack Irish (Guy Pearce) investigates a number of mysterious disappearances.

In Jack Irish: Black Tide (1:37:43, originally aired October 21, 2012),
Jack is contacted by Des (Ronald Jacobson), an old friend and footy teammate of his long-dead father who's working on his will. The disappearance of the aging man's "rubbish" son catches Jack's attention and leads him to discover a series of potentially related other mysterious disappearances.

While Linda is away working in Sydney on television (and having an affair with a well-known host), Jack's searches put him in touch with a photographer (Diana Glenn) whose "housemate with benefits" is among the missing. Jack also reluctantly teams up with a police detective (Don Hany) on a case putting them both in serious peril.

Pretty routine procedural fare, both installments distinguish themselves in action and suspense scenes, which are crafted with the gusto of theatrical fare. Child actor turned young director Jeffrey Walker has yet to graduate to feature films, but he's gained experience in nearly ten years of Australian television and he's since broken into American TV in episodes of shows like "Bones", "The Neighbors", and "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23."

Though he doesn't do too much with the role of the wounded truth-seeker, apprentice cabinet maker, and horse racing fixer, Pearce is an always compelling performer who's easy to root for here. His castmates, universally unfamiliar to American viewers, acquit themselves nicely as well.

While they aired on Australia's ABC Television, a public broadcaster unrelated to America's alphabet network and one of the country's five main networks, these Jack Irish telemovies have content you wouldn't expect to find on US airwaves outside of premium cable: sex, nudity, hard profanity, mild violence and some rather disturbing, grisly, graphic images of death.

When he's not on the search for answers, Jack Irish (Guy Pearce) can be found at the racetrack with his mates Harry Strang (Roy Billing) and Cam Delray (Aaron Pedersen).


My first encounter with an Acorn Media Blu-ray proves to be a highly pleasing one. These Jack Irish mysteries boast stunning 1.78:1 picture, with clarity, sharpness, and detail above and beyond the format's usual high standards. Presented in 2.0 DTS-HD master audio, the sound isn't as impressive, but it carries weight and keeps all dialogue crisp. Still, the Aussie accents are thick enough that you may need to occasionally consult the clean English SDH subtitles kindly provided.

Guy Pearce dons glasses for his behind the scenes featurette interview. The DVD devotes a menu to synopsizing each installment, while the Blu-ray relegates the same text to pop-up windows.


The only extra on either disc is "Jack Irish: Behind the Scenes" (16:52), a featurette the Blu-ray presents in HD.
It lives up to its title with looks at the production of "Black Tide" and thoughts from key creative personnel, including Guy Pearce, director Jeffrey Walker, and actress Marta Dusseldorp about the material and its filming in terms of locations, technique and characters.

The discs open with a two-minute promo for Acorn's many imported television offerings and individual ads for "Jack Taylor": Set 1 and "Falcσn."

The main menu plays gold-tinted clips from the opening titles under the title. The DVD devotes individual pages to each episode as well as summaries and scene indexes, all of which the Blu-ray streamlines into pop-up listings. While the Blu-ray does not support bookmarks, it does resume unfinished playback of feature presentation and the bonus featurette like a DVD, an always-appreciated touch.

The two similarly-labeled discs take opposite sides of a slipcovered eco-friendly blue keepcase whose insert promotes Acorn's streaming service and online communities.

She (Marta Dusseldorp) a journalist. He (Guy Pearce) is a lawyer turned debt collector and apprentice cabinet maker. Together, they solve mysteries in the Australian TV series "Jack Irish."


The more television mystery series I see, the more convinced I become that the entire lot of them falls under the heading of "good, not great." Australia's Jack Irish mysteries are comparable to the British and Irish dramas in the same mold. The protagonist is not a detective and he's played by one of the more talented film actors around today in Guy Pearce.
The action is a little tauter and more exciting. The language is a little rougher and there are some breasts. The results, nonetheless, aren't terribly different, making for a compelling though fairly forgettable way to spend two hours.

Whether or not you've made the leap to Blu-ray, you have to be a fool (or a sufferer of Uniform Packaging Syndrome) to opt for Acorn's DVD-only release. It carries the same $39.99 list price and is actually currently selling for $8 more than the Blu-ray + DVD set on Amazon. The two-disc combo pack offers a highly satisfying presentation, with each format treated to top-notch picture, English subtitles, competent authoring, and a solid behind-the-scenes featurette. Fans of these mysteries, of Pearce, or of Australian television in general should not hesitate to pick up this fine release. But the uninitiated or unconvinced would be wise to watch before buying, the replay value of these shows being questionable.

Buy Jack Irish: Set 1 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD / DVD

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
New: Iron Man 3 • Bates Motel: Season One • Tales of the City: 20th Anniversary Edition • Now You See Me
Guy Pearce: Animal Kingdom • Lawless • The King's Speech • Bedtime Stories • Seeking Justice • Don't Be Afraid of the Dark • The Road
Jack Taylor: Set 1 • Dirk Gently • Jesse Stone: No Remorse • Above Suspicion: Set 2

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Reviewed September 26, 2013.

Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 Essential Media & Entertainment, Screen Australia, The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Film Victoria, ZDF Enterprises GMBH, and 2013 RLJ Entertainment and Acorn Media.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.