Lindara, a small town in New South Wales. Two Aboriginal teenagers, Clarence (Aaron l. McGrath) and Sheyna (Madeleine Madden), are driving a stolen car when it hits a truck. Sheyna is trapped in the car while they are attacked by someone from the truck. When Clarence recovers consciousness, the car is missing, as is Sheyna. Clarence runs back to the house of teacher Alex Wisham (Lucy Lawless), in whose care he is in. The next morning the car is found, with Sheyna’s dead body. Alex also finds Clarence’s phone, which has a corrupted video of the attack still on it.
The Code, created and part-written by Shelley Birse, sets up a number of plot strands from the outset. As news of the car crash reaches the Canberra office of Deputy Prime Minister Ian Bradley (David Wenham), who via his chief of staff Randall Keats (Aden Young) has the Director of Communications Sophie Walsh (Chelsie Preston Crayford) to leak information to her ex-boyfriend Ned Banks (Dan Spielman), a journalist on an online magazine called Password. Finding the police report, Ned contacts Alex and recovers the video, enlisting the help of his autistic brother Jesse (Ashley Zukerman), a former hacker on probation, to repair the file, so setting them on a trail leading to malfeasance in very high places and putting their lives in danger. Meanwhile, Hani (Adele Perovic) is a fellow hacker who becomes close to Jesse for complex reasons of her own. This unfolds in a satisfyingly complex manner over six episodes of just under an hour each.
The serial has a strong cast, with two New Zealander principals (Lucy Lawless and Chelsie Preston Crayford, the latter the daughter of writer/director Gaylene Preston) fitting seamlessly in, both playing Australians. Adele Perovic is Aaron Pedersen, star of Mystery Road has a supporting role as Alex’s policeman friend Tim. Shawn Seet directs slickly, with much use of onscreen graphics depicting mobile phone calls, texts, and computing transactions, though he's a little too fond of timelapse. There’s an effective score by Roger Mason, including a driving 5/4-time main theme.
The Code was broadcast in Australia on the ABC network beginning in September 2014. In the UK, BBC Four started broadcasting it three weeks later, but because The Code went out in the channel’s foreign-drama slot on Saturday nights two episodes at a time, the final episode was broadcast twelve hours earlier than it was in its home country. It won AACTA Awards for Best television drama series, Best Actor for Ashley Zukerman, and, specifically for the first episode, Best Guest/Supporting Actress for Chelsie Preston Crayford, Best Direction, Best Original Music and Best Editing (Deborah Peart).
The Code is released by Arrow as a two-DVD set, three episodes per disc, both discs encoded for Region 2 only. Disc One begins with an advertisement for Arrow’s Noir line, which runs forty-one seconds.
The episodes are transferred in the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, anamorphically enhanced. Shot in high definition, The Code has a look which is quite on-trend for current TV drama: contrast boosted with some strongly saturated colours, particularly blues and reds. Although I didn’t see this serial on broadcast, I’m not in any doubt that this is how it is intended to look.
The soundtrack is in Dolby Surround (2.0), and is clear and well balanced. There isn’t much use of the surrounds, other than the music score, though they are used for a sound effect in the final scene. There are no subtitles for the hard-of-hearing, which is always regrettable, though none of the cast speak with an especially broad Australian accent.
There are no extras.