Cracker – The Complete U.S. Series
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
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
True Romance (in two parts)
Lemmings Will Fly
Hell Hath No Fury
‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore
Sons & Lovers
Talk To Me
If (in two parts)
An American Dream
First Love (in two
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