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BlackJack: Murder Archive (2003)

BlackJack (original title)
Justice means more than punishing those who commit crimes. It means never giving up in the search for the truth. Justice is Detective Jack Kempson's creed. Jack Kempson started out as an ... See full summary »


Peter Andrikidis
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
George Andrikidis George Andrikidis ... Taxi Driver
Yiani Andrikidis Yiani Andrikidis ... Ashleigh Kirsten
Chris Argirousis Chris Argirousis ... Humphries
Tony Barry ... Joe Bueneroti
Kate Beahan ... Julie Egan
Matt Boesenberg ... Shapiro
John Brumpton ... Andy Margate
Tina Bursill ... Carmen
Jason Clarke ... Tony Seaton (1973)
Wadih Dona Wadih Dona ... Doctor
Kosta Doukas Kosta Doukas ... Brian Kirsten (1973)
Russell Dykstra ... Buchanan
Gigi Edgley ... Liz Kempson
Sarah Enright Sarah Enright ... Vicky
David Field ... Inspector Terry Kavanagh


Justice means more than punishing those who commit crimes. It means never giving up in the search for the truth. Justice is Detective Jack Kempson's creed. Jack Kempson started out as an idealistic cop. Thirty years on, he remains relentless in tracking down villains, but has lost confidence in his moral barometer. He turns a blind eye to the dubious methods employed by some of his contemporaries - prepared to let dodgy means be justified by the noble end. The police brotherhood has allowed him to survive all the crap that happens to him in his private life. But something is shifting in Jack and, when a quantity of drugs signed out in his name goes missing, Jack smells a rat and becomes a whistle blower - he just can't accept the corruption anymore. This is his first big mistake, because the department turns its back on him, banishing him to the purgatory of supervising data entry into a new computerised crime tracking system. He is sent to rot in the basement. The system being ...

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Crime | Drama | Mystery


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Release Date:

16 March 2003 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

BlackJack - Vainottu See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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Followed by BlackJack: Sweet Science (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

In good company
21 August 2015 | by tomsviewSee all my reviews

For a long while, I didn't think Australian television would ever produce anything comparable to those British movie-length detective series such as "Morse", "Wallander", "Lewis", "George Gently" and "Vera". Not many US television series equal them either although Tom Selleck's "Jesse Stone" goes pretty close.

Over the years, Australian television produced many superficial crime series. Usually one-hour long, they typically had bland, one-dimensional characters with an emotional level about as deep as the makeup.

And that is the reason, first time around, I actually missed the Australian-made series that broke the mould and finally delivered something that stands comparison with the best - "BlackJack" starring Colin Friels.

There are only seven episodes: a pilot and two short series, but the quality shines through.

Friels' character, Jack Kempson, possesses that one essential quality that makes "Wallander", "Vera", "Morse", "Jesse Stone" and a handful of others stand out from the crowd - empathy. It's not even necessarily brilliant plots; they may all be tough cops, but understanding is at the core of their characters; they understand human frailty - they are world-weary, but also worldly.

Writers Sean Micallef and Gary McCaffrie caught the tone perfectly. Friels' Jack Kempston is a cop on the outer after informing on corrupt colleagues. He is virtually buried in a unit entering old files on computer, and he is no computer geek. It's a clever device; the series is built around the fact that the files give Kempson the opportunity to re-investigate old cases. Kempson is also a single dad, and life has thrown up challenges; his spirited daughter is handicapped, and there are unresolved family issues.

A partner is the other important ingredient in the best police dramas - Morse had Lewis, then Lewis had Hathaway. Even George Gently had the mercurial John Bacchus. "BlackJack" settles in after the moody pilot episode with its echoes of the Graeme Thorne kidnapping case, and Kempson teams up with Marta Dusseldorp's Sam Lawson. They spark off each other, but there is also mutual respect.

Another important ingredient is a feeling for place. Where the best British dramas are often set in the North of England (Massachusetts for "Jesse Stone" and Sweden for "Wallander"), "BlackJack" is set in Sydney. The city is used well with atmospheric night scenes and locations in older suburbs.

Much of the series' appeal is down to Friels. We get a handle on Jack Kempson in the first episode - by the last one we know him well. He's not easily fazed; when he thinks he is right about something, he pursues it tenaciously. Friels also has a light touch; the perfect balance to the intensity of the drama.

Sean Micallef is a unique talent - comedian, actor, and writer. To have come up with this series, which almost seems like a sideline in his CV, is pretty impressive.

"BlackJack" is gone, but another Australian series promises to be nearly as good: "Jack Irish" starring Guy Pearce. With just three episodes so far, only time will tell.

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