DVD Review: CRACKER – The Complete Collection.

Acorn Media
Release Date: Mar 10, 2009
MSRP: $119.99

Stars: Robbie Coltrane,Barbara Flynn, Ian Mercer, Amelia Bullmore,

Buy this.

Really, it is as simple as that.

In 1993, one of the best crime shows, if not the best, in the history of British television was creator. Robbie Coltrane stars as Eddie Fitz Fitzgerald, a forensic psychologist whose vices include chain-smoking, heavy-drinking, infidelity, gambling…you name it and Fitz likely does it in excess.

Fortunately for him (and us), he is utterly brilliant. If he was not, odds are good that he would have ended up in a gutter long ago, and we would have lost hours of fantastic television. Fitz has a deep understanding of people and is often able to create amazingly accurate profiles of suspects, and is able to not only get a feel for suspects, but tear them down in the interrogation room. It should also be noted that his co-workers and family often find themselves on the receiving end of this sharp mind. Fitz is not a person that folks should engage in a battle of wits or wills.

Not only is this a top level police show, but an outstanding psychological study of humanity. The show does not glorify Eddie’s failings, he often comes across as unlikable or worse. It is this unflinching portrayal of Fitz, and those around him, that makes this show so fascinating.

Cracker, like Prime Suspect, does an excellent job of delivering believable characters. Too often U.S. Television is content to offer up stereotypical characters and are afraid to present ones that feel like people you might meet. Cracker feels real.

Cracker also avoids making the criminals into one-dimensional McNasties. All characters, cops and criminals, come across as very real people with motivations that usually make sense to them. “Understandable, not justified.” is one such way that Fitz describes them.

This set features the 11 original stories (23 episodes in all) as well as the 1996 and 2006 telefilms.

I don’t think that the U.S. Has ever gotten a character as flawed as this, though MCNaulty (of The Wire) did remind me of Fitz a bit. An attempt was made to adapt Cracker for America, but they made the softer less abrasive and took away much of what made it so good.

There are plans to try again, hopefully they learned from the first mistakes of the first.

Cracker: Behind the Scenes was made to promote the 2006 telefilm and is included here. It covers the entire series and contains interviews with most of the cast and crew. A decent summary of the show, but I should warn that it contains spoilers so I suggest you watch it after having seen the entire series.

I will end this review with the same words I started it with: Buy this. Fans of serious crime television can’t pass this set up. Buy this.

Order Cracker: The complete collection.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.