Cracker (TV Series 1993–1996) Poster

(1993–1996)

User Reviews

Review this title
34 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
It was good on television, but on DVD it is awesome!
jdajda16 August 2004
The "Cracker" series was one of the best television series ever. The screenplays, directing, acting, and cinematography were on par with the best crime movies of the past 50 years. The entire series is now available on DVD. The three seasons are divided into three 3 hour Dvds each. That's a lot of "Fitz", almost 27 hours, but you long for more when you are done! With these dvds, you get the uncensored version whose continuity is not broken up by commercial breaks. This adds quite a bit to the enjoyment of the series. I haven't been a big fan of British TV melodramas because I found them a bit slow paced, but not so with the "Cracker" series. In summary, I have seen little on TV to compare to this series.
41 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Cracking stuff (sorry!).
funnypage31 July 2003
It's impossible to overstate how classy this programme is. The cast are uniformly superb, Jimmy Mc Govern's writing is by times disturbing and violent, by times deeply compassionate, and the overall tone of the piece is dark and moody, but with just enough ascerbic humour to lighten the weight.

Coltrane is excellent here, but he's spoiled also; he's been given one of the best-written roles in TV history, but he portrays Fitz with effortless panache. No easy thing given the complexity of the character. He's an almost supernaturally gifted psychologist, but he can't understand his wife and son; he's capable of real understanding and compassion, but is an inveterate user of people despite himself.

The supporting cast are excellent, and those actors brought in to play "villains of the week" almost always hold their own. You'll cry when, at the end of "To Say I Love You", the young stutterer realises he'll never be able to say the things to his girlfriend that he wants to say. Robert Carlyle's Albie in "To Be Somebody" is one of the standout characters of the entire series. Fitz's final chat with the put-upon Catholic housewife in "Brotherly Love" is truly disturbing, but heartbreaking too. You'll feel for each of these characters, which is an amazing feat by all concerned in the making, considering their crimes are so graphically portrayed, and the show is so unflinching about revealing the kinds of effects violent crime has on survivors, and the families of the victims. This is classy television.

It's not without it's faults, of course. The standard does tend to take a nose-dive when Jimmy Mc Govern's not writing (not by much, sometimes, but always perceptibly) and the quite graphic nature of most of the episodes means this won't be to everyone's taste, but these are small flaws. This is wonderful stuff. It's impossible to overstate this fact, so i'll say it again: this is really classy television.
45 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
The finest drama series ever created
Ashles18 July 2003
I cannot recommend this highly enough. A fiercely intelligent, disturbing, powerful, funny masterwork by a writer and cast at their peak. The main character, Dr Fitzgerald, a lecturing psychologist who assists the police was originally envisaged by the writer (Jimmy McGovern) as a small, wiry character. Then some genius decided on one of the greatest pieces of stunt casting ever and suggested the massive actor Robbie Coltrane who was better known for comedy (appearing in Blackadder as Doctor Johnson, and the Young Ones, amongst many other appearance, both in TV and film).

He nailed the character totally. A chain smoking, gambling, alcoholic, 'Fitz' can talk to someone for 30 seconds and know what drives them, but he can't control his own domestic life. Nor does he ever seem totally to want to. "You don't want to be helped" says his wife "Because only normal people need help. And you think you're special, unique".

His gift of analysing people makes him almost despicable arrogant, yet we are always on his side. He is charming, extremely sarcastic and amusing, and always up for a trip to the pub. But the challenge of analysing the criminally insane gives him wings to stretch himself in ways everyday life can't.

I won't give away any of the plots, but each one would make a fantastic film on its own. However that would diminish the power of the story arc that runs throughout - and that pushes the series up to a perfect 10/10. Harrowing, touching, powerful - when will TV companies make something this good again.

(NB if you can only watch one episode watch 'To be a somebody' - an excellent encapsulation of all the programme's best qualities)
36 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Simply the best television drama series yet produced
David_Frames4 June 2005
We've had the whodunnit and even the howdunnit but Cracker is something else - its the definitive whydunnit, a superb cocktail of wit,grit and human frailty, perfectly pitched and performed - in short: It's marvellous. If you've never seen it (and this is something you should rectify immediately) the 'cracker' of the title is no less than 19 stone of chain smoking, hard drinking, gambling addicted psychologist whose skills become invaluable to the Manchester police. This set up is established in the opening story 'the mad woman in the attic' in which Fitz (Coltrane) offer's his help to the police when one of his students becomes the latest victim of brutal murderer. The train based killing set-up is based on a real murder that took place on route to London in the early 90's and it's this borrowing from the headlines that gives the series it's sense of reality, often making for uncomfortable viewing. McGovern's character's are never allowed to stand still - they have real emotional and psychological density and the fallout from events in one story (and they're are many particularly in the first two series) are carried through into the next. Fitz is perversely selfish and flawed but is also in possession of penetrative intellect and cutting wit which makes both his domestic scenes in which he attempts to reconcile himself with the wishes of his long suffering wife Judith and the inevitable showdowns with his criminal adversaries equally captivating. It's the later you look forward to the most but there's also a terrific supporting cast to enjoy including Christopher Eccleston, Geraldine Sommrevile and the superb Ricky Tomlinson. It would be unfair to new viewers to spoil the intricate layers of each story by going into them too deeply, simply to say that Cracker was and is occasionally gruelling, always challenging television, the uniquely British sensibility of which lends it a weight (no pun on Robbie Coltrane intended) that would be impossible to replicate elsewhere. McGovern, if you had to lay one criticism at his door, tends to underwrite or caricature middle class characters but when writing about what he knows he's unbeatable. Those Cracker stories not penned by him tend not to have quite as much impact though Ted Whitehead's the Big Crunch has some memorable exchanges between Fitz and arrogant sect leader Kenneth Trant but Paul Abbot's stories, though good, aren't a patch on McGovern's best perhaps betraying his relative lack of experience in the genre at the time. This is all mere nick-picking though; Cracker is superb stuff and if you don't think so then you genuinely need to see a psychologist.
28 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Apt title
Dodger-914 December 2000
If you had to choose one ITV-made psychological thriller series from the Nineties for a desert island, what would it be?

Some may plump for Prime Suspect but for many, Cracker wins hands down - not least because of its star.

Robbie Coltrane has always been good value for money in comedy roles, but as the criminal psychologist Eddie Fitzgerald, he shone brighter than most stars of his generation.

Scripts by Jimmy McGovern (among others) did no harm and with a knockout supporting cast including Barbara Flynn, Lorcan Cranitch and Christopher Eccleston, it was little wonder the show won a string of awards.

When the Americans decided to remake the show almost word for word with Robert Pastorelli in the lead, it was a pretty fruitless attempt to sell a great series to a wider audience.

Although not bad, the star was lighter in more ways than one and the whole thing gave many fans a nagging sense of deja vu.
22 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Robbie Coltrane is brilliant
JimC-617 June 1999
In my opinion, the little I've seen of the American version of Cracker was actually a noble effort, but the crucial difference between the two was the presence of Robbie Coltrane.

Coltrane is one of the world's best actors. He fills the character of Fitz so well that this unlikely character, who drinks hard, gambles, and is full of rage but is also compassionate and incredibly intelligent, is completely believable. He is one of the few unattractive leading men who can convincingly flirt with attractive women, so that when they are suddenly interested in him, you believe it.

Cracker is harsh stuff sometimes. Every killer on the show, it seems, has a psychological angle that is positively disturbing (hence, I suppose, the need for a police psychologist). The series also has humor, though. The scene in which Fitz, seeking revenge on a fellow therapist who's fooling around with his wife, turns a "gamblers anonymous" group into a card game is the sort of harsh but banned-in-America dark humor that Jimmy McGovern (author of the film Priest) excels at.
22 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
fabulous is exactly right
cstrother-120 September 2004
This is extraordinary TV/film-making. It is as good as Sopranos or Six Feet Under. Complex, deep, filled with the unexpected. I, like others, have found that British drama can be a bit slow, but this is anything but slow. First rate writing and acting all around. I can't add much to what others have said. This is truly the real Magoo. I am amazed that I have not seen this series written up everywhere. Hate to build it up to others, because I came upon it relatively unbuilt up and it just knocked me out. Sorry for all the hyperbole, but this deserves it. Robbie Coltrane is quite the 300 + pound sex symbol. All of of the actors play human beings with strengths and weakness, with complex interactions. The Big Sleep has nothing on this. Prime Suspect is good too, but the characters here are more believable.
18 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Cracker
josephmartindc29 December 2004
I stumbled onto "Cracker" knowing nothing about it nor Robbie Coltrane. After getting into the series, I felt as if I'd died and gone to heaven. Previous writers have written very well about the brilliance of Robbie Coltrane's acting and Jimmy McGovern's writing. "Cracker" and so many other well-directed, -acted, -written British detective series beg the question: Why is Hollywood incapable of this stuff? With few exceptions, the U.S. film industry fails and fails so miserably. Except for the folks at HBO and the Boston PBS affiliate WGBH in collaboration with like-minded professionals in the U.K., "the suits" of the American film industry seem unwilling to gamble on a series like (the British version of) "Cracker." I also highly recommend "Foyle's War," "Touching Evil," and "Second Sight" if you're a fan of brilliant British detective series. "Prime Suspect" remains on my list to watch among some others, all British. I am forever thankful these are all available on DVD.
15 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Excellent crime drama provides insight... and some laughs
Roger-2921 September 1998
Unlike the U.S. version, the U.K. version of Cracker is smart, witty, funny, insightful, and often touching. Robbie Coltrane is excellent as Fitz, the criminal psychologist, and the entire cast works together very well. This TV series is worthy of the big screen. I'm hoping they will make more episodes!
18 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
In a word: fabulous
Bram-53 June 1999
I agree with the comments above. This is the best series ever seen on any screen, anywhere. Robbie Coltrane, as Fitz, steals every show, though everyone is excellent. From the start, this has been a cop show with heart and soul. All I can say is more, more more ...
15 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Once you start watching it you can't stop.Out-of-the-box, brilliantly written story lines, Can't stop watching it.
roisfamily30 January 2012
Equally as great as the best British Mysteries: Prime suspect, Wire in the Blood, Touch of Frost and Trial & Retribution.

I'm surprised this TV series isn't better know. Cracker is immensely "UNDERRATED".

As you may have read in the other reviews it is the storyline that's highly praised. EXACTLY MY OPINION! The main writer, Jimmy McGovern is just simply an intelligent storyteller. Now this series wouldn't be as great as it is if Robbie Coltrane's portrayals of a hard drinking, chain smoking, overweight gambling addict wasn't as talented. However even with such a dramatic acting performance it is Jimmy McGovern with his fantastically ingenious way of sucking you into his story lines, where you can't go on living the rest of your life not knowing how the story ends, that steals the show.

Why this series isn't praised to the same degree as Prime Suspect or Trial & Retribution are, nor as well known is just beyond me. As I said "IMMENSELY UNDERRATED". The only thing I can think of is that those other TV series ran for longer or expanded for a longer period.

Because in my opinion Jimmy McGovern is up there with Lynda Laplante, R.D. Wingfield & Arthur Conan Doyle.

Yeah....The Brits learned a long time ago that it is good story lines "first" that make a show great and good acting, good directing, good editing second. Not pretty young faces and expensive special effects. God! "Hollywood really needs to learn allot still from the UK's Television Industry". They produce a far better product for UK TV than what we get here in the USA in movie theaters. "And with only 10% of the budget" .

By Dedoshucos
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Incredible in every way, one of the best of the detective/mystery genre and also one of the best shows ever made
TheLittleSongbird9 June 2016
Despite being a great fan of detective/mystery shows, from Agatha Christie, 'Inspector Morse', 'Midsommer Murders', 'A Touch of Frost', 'Taggart' and 'Foyle's War' to 'New Tricks', 'Monk', 'Columbo' and 'Murder She Wrote' and others {also found myself really liking 'Messiah', apart from the mess that was the fifth and last series), it took a while for me to get round to seeing 'Cracker'.

When being introduced to 'Cracker' quite late- in the past six years to be exact- this reviewer found the show every bit as great as the best of the above shows, in fact on par and perhaps even better, coming from someone who has loved Miss Marple, Poirot and 'Inspector Morse' since eleven years old this is incredibly high praise.

'Cracker' is made and photographed with supreme atmosphere and classy style. It is also scored understatedly but never in a way that takes away from the full impact of the drama, the main theme is memorable, while the direction is controlled and creates tension, horror and suspense wonderfully.

It is a brilliantly written show too, one of the best written of the detective/mystery genre and an example for any good TV show regardless of whether it's comedy, animated, mystery, drama etc. It's violent, and unflinchingly but always effectively and never gratuitously so (not for those easily disturbed), but also with its fair share of poignant emotion and grimly dark and deliciously acerbic humour. It's not just the quality of these individual elements though that bowls one over, but also how they are all balanced, never too much of one or too little of another.

Also present in 'Cracker' is an absolute mastery of storytelling. Story lines that could easily have been clichéd, too safe or not covered new ground are intricate, layered, complex, harrowing ("To Be Somebody" really wrenches the gut in a way that few individual episodes of any TV show in existence have managed), touching (the end of "To Say I Love You") and weren't afraid to take balls that many shows before and during wouldn't have had the balls to attempt, like the psychological effects of a key female character's rape, killing off key characters and giving the good characters strengths and flaws and not making the villains irredeemably bad. Instead of being so much a whodunit like 'Morse', 'Lewis' or 'Poirot' for examples or a howdunit like 'Monk', 'Columbo' and some episodes of 'Diagnosis Murder', 'Cracker' is sort of a whydunit and a psychology of the villains' minds, which it deals with so intelligently and often powerfully.

The characters are also incredibly well written, Fitz being one of the best-written and most fascinating characters ever to grace television in my opinion. 'Cracker' is superbly acted too. Robbie Coltrane is just extraordinary and to me, despite being a departure for him at the time, Fitz is his best role (no offence Hagrid fans, love that character too but Fitz is a much more interesting character). Barbara Flynn, Christopher Eccleston, Geraldine Somerville, Ricky Tomlinson and Lorcan Crannitch support him impeccably, while out of the villains Robert Carlyle's spine-chilling Albie Kinsella (some of his best ever acting) stands out by a landslide.

Overall, incredible in every way. 10/10 Bethany Cox
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Cracker –The Last Truly Great British TV Drama Series?
bushtony31 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Take an obese, alcoholic, chain-smoking, gambling addict; a sarcastic, pompous, belligerent, egotistical, selfish, self-absorbed, middle-aged Scottish psychologist and slap him in the middle of the Manchester Crime Squad as a free-lance criminal profiler. Make this Manchester a city besieged by a string of serial-killers, racist murderers, Bonnie and Clyde wannabes, rapists, perverts, prostitutes, deviants, cultists and general run-of–the-mill malcontents and terminally irredeemable weirdos. And there is the heady formula for one of the greatest TV drama series ever produced in the UK.

The plot lines for the main narratives alone, however, are not what made it great. The stories ranged from the achingly powerful to the more pedestrian, the artistic to the faintly autistic, but that is of little concern. What made this series so downright great were the characters and their relationships and interaction with one another and their environment. Never was a show so character-driven and in such an emotionally affecting way.

Coltrane's Fitz is, on the surface, an anti-hero who should be on the negative side of despicable. The epitome of selfishness, stuck in an eternal mid-life crisis of his own imagining, he flounders into debt, sucks up booze, blows out smoke and has a body that looks as if it has never seen a salad in its entire existence. Yet he is so human, so gifted with razor sharp wit and talented by means of his rare insight into the human condition, that he automatically has the audience on his side.

His treatment of his wife, his children, his mother, his brother and almost anyone he meets, is often appalling and in some cases unforgivable. His moral compass is broken beyond belief, yet he manages to appeal as a heroic figure and we root for him despite all. Coltrane projects him so charismatically that we even accept that the young, willowy and coldly sensual Jane Penhaligon can fall in love with him and take him to bed. Yep, the performance is that good.

That said, just about every performance by every player is pitch-perfect.

Of special note is Lorcan Cranitch as DS Jimmy Beck. Beck is the flip-side to Fitz's insightful and confident smart-ass persona. He too drinks, smokes and revels in macho egotism. But his bluster fails to hide that he is an incompetent copper, a bigot, a misogynist, a man promoted to a level set way out of his depth, whose barely concealed contempt for women and hero-worship for his superior, Bilborough (Clive Eccleston), proves to be his undoing. The difference is, Fitz doesn't hero-worship anyone and at the end of the day he knows the real score. Beck, though, is too stupid, pig-thick and mentally disturbed to get it.

Beck's unravelling psyche is brilliantly depicted by Cranitch, his mindset conflicted by his hatred for Fitz and a jealous desire to be more like him on the one hand and his rigidly repressed latently homosexual adulation of Bilborough – whose death he unwittingly orchestrates through his own ineptitude. Beck's descent from moderately dumb and big-headed flatfoot to guilt-ridden, psychosomatic, suicidal sexual deviant is masterfully written and portrayed.

Although it's Jimmy McGovern's baby, it should not be forgotten that other writers contributed some superb work to this chronicle.

Cracker was a series brave enough to unflinchingly kill-off key players and make drama from the fall-out. To let the pivotal female character be raped by a trusted colleague and then examine the devastation of that act at close range. To depict murderers and perverts as human beings, rather than just token cyphers of evil. And to actually dare to give TV audiences something deliberately thought-provoking and of a rare and undeniable quality and worth for a change.

The last truly great British TV drama series? Yeah, probably it is.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Engaging, subtle British series
virtualsnob8 May 2006
The overweight, compulsive gamble Cracker, played by the almost-brilliant Robbie Coltrane, is at the center of this British series centered on a criminal psychologist. Good writing, intense situations, and complexity -- so lacking in American series -- make this compulsively watchable.

Coltrane, who has gone on to play odd personages in Harry Potter films, is endlessly interesting as a man who cannot conquer his own demons, yet understands, and seeks to heal, demons in others. His relationship with his wife is utterly realistic, and rather heartbreaking. His inability to control himself is at the center of the drama. In a series that shows the British command of unorthodoxy and human frailty, Coltrane shines.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Fantastic!
marcuskhaos66613 September 2013
Embodies the idea of criminal psychology to a T. Fantastic acting and script writing. Hugely enjoyable to watch. British television at its best. Jimmy McGovern once again stuns his audiences with a fantastic insight into the lives of both regular people and those that stray into the realm of criminal behaviour. The show's true strength is the portrayal of Fitz whose life - that progresses over the series)is just as enjoyable to watch as the main plot. Anyone who claims otherwise is most likely a hipster trying to sound cool by disrespecting classic TV, someone that is too young or too bitter or someone that is not of high enough intellect to understand the plot lines. Today's society needs more of this genius television making. 9.5/10
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Cracker -Series 1 to 3 on DVD
kiwi4326 February 2008
I really enjoyed this series when it was first shown and have caught several episodes as repeats, but was recently given the DVDs of the complete original series, and rediscovered Fitz and his family, and his colleagues. By watching the episodes in order, and watching a whole story each day (I was on holiday from work) it was possible to see the development in character and relationships.The fact that I already knew what was going to happen made me note things I had not seen originally. They are not whodunnits, but whydunnits. My personal favourite, Men Should Weep, brought me to tears. The acting throughout the series is brilliant, the dialogue scintillating, and the settings atmospheric. It is so good to see real looking people,warts and all, not the perfect faces/ bodies of so much American TV.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A superb drama, with wit and great acting **character spoilers, if there is such a thing**
Hancock_the_Superb12 December 2002
Warning: Spoilers
When I first heard about "Cracker" (in the Video Movie Guide), I'd only seen one thing with Robbie Coltraine in it ("Ink and Incapability", the episode of BA III with Dr. Johnson's dictionary). By the time I finally got around to actually watching the show, however, Coltraine had become one of my favorite actors, and after viewing several episodes of this show, that place has been cemented.

Coltraine's Edward Fitzgerald is one of the most compelling television characters ever. He's a gambler, and a chronic smoker and drinker (6 or 7 bottles a week, and 50-60 cigarettes a day), so he is hardly an admirable figure. He also comes off to me as something of a misogynist (sp.?), given his treatment of his wife (during the midst of an argument with her, he continues saying, "Come to bed with me" until she finally relents) and fooling around with other women, and is very sarcastic (most of the show's humor comes from him). And yet, he is a brilliant psychologist who can smell a rat a mile a way and is usually, despite all his domestic and personal problems, a step ahead of the criminals - and always a step ahead of his colleagues in the police, who are Fitz's archenemies, and yet continue asking for his help when the chips are down ("He's havin' fits, Fitz!"/"Yeah, well I'm still in custody, Custody!"). Coltraine's superb performance is to be commended.

The villains are a mixed bag; I found the couple from "To Say I Love You" quite annoying; but the murderer from "To Be A Somebody", played by the brilliant Robert Carlyle ("The Full Monty", "The World Is Not Enough" [which, incidentally, co-starred Coltraine]), is a quite human character who gains more confidence the more he kills (though his motives aren't really clear as far as I'm concerned).

The supporting cast (I'm not looking up any names right now, lest my comment be erased when I return) is equally superb.

Nine stars. "Jimmy's got something to say to you." "Let me guess . . . bollocks?"
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Lonely at the top...
arcon-226 December 1999
Well, I just had to add something here. I have watched many crime-, detective-, police series in my life, of several countries, but "Cracker" simply sweeps them all off the board. I did not know there was an american version, but I have no wish to see it. Some things you do NOT touch....Robbie Coltrane is Cracker. It's british, witty, cynical and harsh, yet humorous and realistic. Accept no substitutes
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Absolutely brilliant...
No-Doze27 September 1998
This is a completely brilliant mini-series, probably the best program ever to be show on television. The acting is impeccably good, and the writing is great. The American re-make wasn't half of what this series is. The storylines are very good, and the dialogue and situations are touching, poignant and very disturbing. See this, if you ever get the chance. The best episodes are "To Be a Somebody" (co-starring Robert Carlyle from "The Full Monty") and "One Day a Lemming Will Fly".
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
impecable work
Kirpianuscus16 August 2018
It is difficult to define it. Because it is a spectacular, well made crime serie. But,first, it represents an experience. Sure, a British serie, with all his virtues. But, in same measure, one of magnificent performances of Robert Coltrane. And a "cool" script.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Best thing on TV since the remake of Battlestar Galactica
rooprect17 March 2015
...except that the Battlestar remake came 10 years after Cracker. But you get the point.

The British series "Cracker" is a gritty, tense and often humorous psychological crime drama about a misfit human being ("Fitz" played by Robbie Coltrane) who happens to be a genius at reading human nature. Even though he can't seem to get a grip on his own failing life, he is the police force's best asset when it comes to solving grisly murders.

Bringing to the TV screens a new and quite disturbing sort of realism that had never been seen before, at least nothing I'd ever seen, Cracker was one of the first shows that boldly dove into the concept of the anti-hero. You won't find any lily-white heroes here. There's no John Wayne (although on occasion Robbie Coltrane's character does a pretty good job of impersonating him, along with Humphrey Bogart & Columbo). The good guy doesn't always win, the good guy isn't always right, and most notably sometimes there isn't even a good guy.

Shows today have embraced this realism very well, but back in the late 80s-early 90s you have to remember TV screens were still dominated by the likes of Baywatch & Walker Texas Ranger. Entertaining stuff, but very clearcut good vs. evil type stuff where good always wins with a joke & freeze frame at the end.

Here in Cracker you're more likely to get an ending where the wrong person goes to jail, or someone gets blown up, fade to black, roll credits. Yes folks, this is a far cry from Columbo... although Columbo fans (like me) will be thrilled at the idea of a brilliant criminologist who usually--not always but usually--seems to be just 1 step behind the criminal and 1 step ahead of the audience. This, coupled with the aforementioned moral ambiguity of all the characters, ensures that NOTHING is predictable.

Robbie Coltrane is now famous for his Harry Potter role, but this is the first time I saw him and I was instantly hooked by his funny, self-deprecating arrogance, his cool intelligence on the job while, at home, being too crass & hot headed to hold a 2 sentence conversation with his family, and of course his very anti-heroic vices of alcohol and gambling... which, by the way aren't just thrown in for color; his character actually explains the logic in a lucid way that makes me want to saddle up to the nearest bar and order a tub of whiskey.

Seriously, though, while his uncontrolled addictions are far from charming, there is a certain glamor in it, similar to Bogart's whiskey swilling "Rick" in Casablanca. So if you are possibly offended by a hero who's not just an alcoholic gambler but quite proud of it, then you might want to avoid this. But like I said, this sort of realism is what broke the Baywatch mold.

As my title suggests, the only show I can really compare this to is the excellent 2003 remake of Battlestar Galactica which took the same approach of challenging our preconceptions of good & evil. Both of these shows begin with the premise of a "good guy" (the detective, or in Battlestar the human), and then turning everything on its head to the point where you may often find yourself rooting for the "bad guy" (the accused, or in Battlestar the cylons). Maybe it took 1000 years for storytellers to get it right, but I'm reminded of the ancient poem by Omar Khayyam with the greatest line ever written about the human species: "I myself am heaven and hell."
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Robbie Coltrane humanity!
kikkapi206 August 2014
Cracker is a beautiful and brutal cocktail of gruesome entertainment, savage social commentary and unflinching truth, brought to life by the angry genius of writer/creator Jimmy McGovern and the succulently human, career-defining performance of Robbie Coltrane (delightful) as Edward 'Fitz' Fitzgerald. And Robert Carlisle was never better than he was in this. Still sends shivers down my spine watching some of his scenes in this. Twenty years after the transmission of its first episode, Cracker remains one of the most riveting, visceral, and compelling dramas ever to grace the small screen. It shows the world that the UK was capable of out-HBOing HBO even before HBO existed.

This is a "masterpiece" to watch!
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
What a show
jmeyers65528 November 2005
After reading everyone's comments, I felt the need to add my own. This is one of my all time favorite shows. I explained to my mother why she didn't "get" British television. She watched an episode of Cracker with me and just didn't get it. My explanation: Unlike most American shows, you have to pay attention to British shows. They require the use of your brain. I love the character of Fitz and doubt anyone but Robbie Coltrane could have done the role justice. Most American TV is crap. I read a lot, usually with the TV playing in the background and have no trouble keeping up with whatever drivel is on. When one of the inspectors was killed on the show, I felt as if I'd lost a friend. How I long for the days when A&E broadcast decent shows like this one. This was one of the first series I purchased on DVD. I only wish there were more.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Listen to Frank Carson... !
Howlin Wolf10 August 2007
Jimmy McGovern is a genius. This - and "The Lakes" - proves it. Combine his layered and authentic writing with a perfectly chosen cast and it's impossible to stumble. His dialogue has a rhythm that acts as the pulse of the story, driving it relentlessly forward until you're on the edge of your seat in anticipation, waiting for the resolution.

Perfectly matching this level of intensity is the lead actor of the series, Robbie Coltrane. Fitz is the man who together the duo help bring so vividly to life, and he's a mass of contradictions. The morbid curiosity of whether he'll manage to sort out his personal problems is as involving as the intricately detailed cases he studies during working hours.

I'm pleased that some of the notable cast have continued their streak of excellence beyond this program, my only wish is that Mr. Coltrane be given more opportunity to flaunt his astonishing dramatic credentials.

I promise you, you won't find a tauter and more finely tuned procedural series on TV.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Best show in years
user-1435111 February 2007
Sometimes you come across something that "hangs" in your mind. Many years later you still remember story lines, characters or even the name of a movie or show. This is one of these things. Aired late at night years ago, I alway remembered the episodes I saw. Television making optima forma. Yaw-dropping story lines, real characters and the ultimate escape from this real world to another real world. More than a spectator, you are drawn into the story as an active participant. Although not all episodes are equally strong, even the weakest episode is better than anything on TV in recent years. Besides that, the overall level is the highest I saw in years. Think Sopranos but better. Coltrane gives the best performance of his life, he doesn't play Fitz, he IS Fitz. Supporting cast is elevated to the same level of expertise, you feel like you're looking at a cast who worked together for years and years. Never boring, always riveting. Now, after 13 years, I bought the DVD box. Although dated at some points (Fitz is very surprised his son has a cell phone) the same thrilling experience is still there.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed