Underbelly hilarity

While Evan Goussis’s jury mulls over its verdict, I’ve just started watching Underbelly Uncut, which was sent to me complete with its idiotic, extra-legal and over-the-top sticker:


Not to mention the special uncut tagline:


No kidding.

The funniest bit is the piracy warning that screens at the start. I bet I’m not the only person who burst out laughing at that one. The stern message warns viewers that pirates are burning the careers of Australian writers, complete with images of fire. A pity that warning wasn’t included in Justice King’s copy. As the DVD cover reminds us: “Never before has one series cause so much controversy.’ How will Channel 9 advertise the TV series in Victoria, if it ever shows? “See Underbelly the way it was supposed to be seen: with ads.”

So much for the colour, drama humorous dialogue. Onto the salacious behaviour…

And now I’ve watched the first three episodes, which happen to be the exact three that were in issue in Channel Nine’s appeal to the Court of Appeal of Victoria. Gosh they’re good. Poor old Tracey Seymour. And where is Tom now?

So, why weren’t we allowed to watch the first three episodes again?:

The murder with which A is charged took place approximately four years ago. A was committed for trial on 22 March 2007. The prosecution case is that X was approached by a person whom we shall call ‘D’ allegedly acting on behalf of himself and a person to whom we shall refer as ‘F’ shortly before the murder took place. The prosecution alleges that D ‘contracted’ with X to kill B. The motive for the killing is alleged to be related to enmities which had developed between D, F and B in the course of the so-called ‘Gangland Wars’. The prosecution contends that X recruited two others, E and A, to assist in the execution of B. The prosecution case is that X was engaged to do the driving, E was to be the lookout and A was to do the shooting. The Crown case is that the shooting took place as planned in premises frequented by B. The Crown case is that one week later X was contacted by D. Soon thereafter F paid X a substantial sum of money. The Crown case is that the shooting of B was captured by security cameras in the premises in which the shooting took place. The prosecution intends to call X to give evidence against A…

The first matter to be considered is whether, as is submitted by the applicant, no prejudice could arise by reason of the broadcast of episodes 1 to 3 of Underbelly. Episode 1 is entitled ‘The Black Prince’ and involves matters relating to one Alphonse Gangitano. It is set during the year 1995. The period of time to which the episode refers is thus temporally separate from the matters connected to the trial. However, B and two of his sons are named and represented by actors in episode 1, as is D. This episode commences to describe the relationships which each of those parties has to each other and to other persons. Those relationships are portrayed as being relevant to the events which lead in due course to the death of B. Likewise in episode 2, B and members of his family and D are named and portrayed by actors. F is represented in the program by an actor but not named and his face is pixelated. Similarly, episode 3 is devoted principally to the family of B and their association with other alleged members of the ‘underworld’. It also refers in some detail to the alleged association between D and F.

Clearly the relationships between the deceased and members of his family and D and F, and the criminal activities in which they are portrayed engaging in as portrayed in episodes 1 to 3 are relevant to the manner in which the prosecution puts its case against A. In our view, taking into account the proximity of the trial and that fact, the judge rightly considered that the dramatic portrayal of matters of mixed fact and fiction which directly relates to the trial of A was a matter of most serious concern.

With those letters, it’s all Greek to me, although there was no pixellation in my uncut version and names were actually named! Who knows how A’s jury would have reacted if they heard all about F’s top secret past – all five or so minutes of it, spread over two separate episodes – on their television in the midst of the trial? Thank God King J’s suppression order flew into Melbourne in the nick of time.

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