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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Drama > Cracker - The Complete U.S. Series

Cracker – The Complete U.S. Series


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Episodes: B-



Robbie Coltrane was an international sensation for several successful seasons as Cracker, a radio and real-life psychologist that helps the police on murder cases.  As many British hits have been remade as American series that were often hits.  James Sadwith, who wrote the teleplays for Robert Altman’s mini-series Gun, decided to take a “crack” at transforming it for U.S. television.  Robert Pastorelli, previous known for his work on Murphy Brown, landed the title role and to his credit did a great job in the role.  He can carry the show and is fine in the lead role.


The original show was part of a long-running cycle in Detective TV of the flawed man as investigator that began back with Stephen J. Cannell’s The Rockford Files, as if the previous generation of such shows were loaded with stereotypes and archetypes.  The problem with that assumption, besides its inaccuracy, is that the flawed lead has gone much further in the genre decades ago in Film Noir dating to the early 1940s and this TV cycle has archetypes of its own.  Drinking heavy and gambling seems more an American pulp fiction gumshoe archetype, so all this show is doing is bringing it back home, which is not as interesting.  Pastorelli does what he can to rise above that issue.


With that said, I was never that impressed with the original version of the show and this remake is actually better than it got credit for being.  Unfortunately, that comes with some formula and predictability, but the producers went all out to do a top-rate job.  Josh Hartnett plays his son just before his big screen film career took off, while the ever-reliable R. Lee Ermey runs the police department Cracker works out of.  The 16 episodes, inclusive of three two-parters, are:


1)     True Romance (in two parts)

2)     Madwoman

3)     Lemmings Will Fly

4)     Hell Hath No Fury

5)     ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore

6)     Sons & Lovers

7)     Talk To Me

8)     If (in two parts)

9)     An American Dream

10)  The Club

11)  Best Boys

12)  First Love (in two parts)

13)  Faustian Fitz



The early shows are derived from British shows, while the later ones try to take off on their own, but they never forge the new direction needed to make the show take off.  Coltrane even shows up as a different character in what turned out to be the show’s final episode.  I give the writers, producers and directors credit for their seriously ambitious attempt to make this version of the show a hit, but it ultimately is solid viewing that never exceeds its genre.  Some of the plots have logic holes in them that makes them predictable and are disappointing, while the actors have chemistry throughout, which is the best reason to recommend this set if you missed these shows.


The full frame 1.33 X 1 image is recently shot and looks good, but has detail limits and has a slight haze throughout.  It is still watchable, especially in some shots.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has Pro Logic surrounds that decode nicely, though the packaging does not suggest the better performance.  Extras include a stills gallery for the show and a few dozen trailers for various titles from the Tango Entertainment catalog.  We look forward to more of their releases.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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