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Cracker - The Complete US Series

Tango // Unrated // June 14, 2005
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted July 23, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Complete Series

Cracker was a short lived crime drama based upon a series of the same name. The original Cracker series was produced in the United Kingdom and starred Robbie Coltrane as the main character. The original series aired for three seasons with a total of twenty-three episodes. This reincarnation of the series takes the same character and puts him in a different setting, the United States. At the root this newer series is pretty much the same as the original, but it includes a number of differences that the show is clearly not the same thing played in a different setting with a different group of actors.

For those who are not familiar with Cracker (UK, US or otherwise), the show centers around a psychologist named Fitz who works with the police solving some of the toughest crimes. When it comes to profiling criminals, Fitz is a genius. He has an uncanny ability to assess and understand people within seconds of meeting them. Outside of the psycho-babble, his life is a wreck. His marriage is in shambles, he's an alcoholic, and has a severe gambling problem. The strengths and weaknesses of the main character are one of the show's main attractions. Although it was not enough to keep viewers hook to the screen. This US version was not as well received by viewers.

Overall I thought this series was an enjoyable watch, but it was far from great. As a series, it had more problems than it should have. The main character Fitz, full name Gerry Fitzgerald, was played by Robert Pastorelli. Pastorelli's performance as Fitz was the strongest aspect of this show. I felt he did a superb job depicting Fitz in his strengths and weaknesses. Pastorelli also brought a strong emotional state to his character. He was able to project his character's smug attitude, fear, guilt, pain, and so on.

While the role of the main character was filled well by Pastorelli, the other characters were all quite weak. On the home front across from Fitz is his wife Judith (Carolyn McCormick). Her role is fairly cut and dry and she never plays a big enough role to standout. Then there are their kids Michael (Josh Hartnett) and Hope (Sally Livingstone). Michael makes brief appearances in the show, while Hope rarely appears. None of their performances are remarkable, and they just barely seem to provide the troubled relationship needed to create Fitz.

The cop characters also pretty poor. Detective Hannah Tyler (Angela Featherstone) has the largest role next to Fitz. She is the case detective he works closely with and also someone he is involved in a sordid love affair with. Needless to say, she is an important character. Unfortunately, the performance is unconvincing and leaves you feeling cold. Another detective who makes recurring appearances is Danny Watlington (Robert Wisdom), whose character and performance is just as unconvincing as Featherstone. Leading the detectives is Lieutenant Fry (R. Lee Ermey) and after seeing Ermey in Saving Silverman, I have a hard time taking this guy seriously. In general, the case detectives just do not come off as strong or likeable characters. The problem is that they are up against Fitz who is portrayed in a much more likeable manner (despite all of his problems).

Another clear problem with this series is the stories. Due to the nature of the show, the plotlines involve some pretty complex and ultimately, weird cases. The cases end up being fairly extreme. What is wrong with them is how they are portrayed. These extreme cases come off unrealistic and unbelievable to the point that some of the episodes are outright ridiculous.

Overall, Cracker is an entertaining watch, but not one I could imagine wanting to see over and over again. The characters other than Fitz offer very little to the show and give little reason to care about them in their endeavors. The bottom line, if you are looking to see a crime drama with a different perspective than Law & Order and related crime dramas, then Cracker should be worth renting.

Episode Guide
1. True Romance (1)
2. True Romance (2)
3. Madwoman
4. Lemmings Will Fly
5. Hell Hath No Fury
6. 'Tis Pity She's A Whore
7. Sons And Lovers
8. Talk To Me
9. If (1)
10. If (2)
11. An American Dream
12. The Club
13. Best Boys
14. First Love (1)
15. First Love (2)
16. Faustian Fitz

The sixteen episodes that make up Cracker: The Complete US Series are spread across four dual-sided single-layered DVDs. Each disc has four episodes, with two episodes on each side. However, there is an exception. On side A of disc 2, there is an unreferenced episode ("Lemmings Will Fly", also found on disc 1 side B), which looks like a production error.

The video is given in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame color. The picture quality is average looking, with a slight grain and roughness which can be attributed to edge enhancement and video compression. As for colors, skin tones and darker tones tend to enhance the picture's grain and roughness.

The audio format is given in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. For the most part the sound quality is decent. The overall track is fairly flat, but music has a little more kick to it. Channel separation is used sparsely.

There are not many extras included with this release. There is a dull photo gallery, trailers, and an eight page booklet with episode synopsis's and a character profile of Fitz.

Final Thoughts:
Cracker wasn't a terrible watch, but it wasn't exactly the best either. The series proves to be entertaining, but lacks strong stories and interesting characters to keep you coming back for more. On the plus side, Robert Pastorelli fills his role as Fitz very well. If not for his performance, I probably would have suggested you skip out on this release. Overall, Cracker is a fairly weak show, but is entertaining for a single watch. In other words, it is worth renting.

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