Acorn media have just released a new box set of the fabulous TV drama series Cracker. I guess to summarize this series in one phrase, ‘psychological CSI with a uniquely British twist’. The term Cracker comes from a slang term, someone who can ‘crack’ into the minds of suspects, to see through the facade offered and into the underlying mind of the suspect. Sounds gripping? Well, lets add the twist. Our Cracker is no regular guy, he is more antihero that hero. Dr. Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald is the very antithesis of what one would think of as a doyen of law and order. He is a drunkard, a compulsive gambler, estranged from his wife for adultery, unfit, overweight, a chain smoker, and very likely mentally unstable, maybe a manic depressive. But he has one thing going for him, he has a brilliant mind. He is a fabulous criminologist, one that is able to sniff out the needle of truth from the haystack of lies. It is for this reason that while not much liked by his colleagues he is respected, or maybe a better term would be tolerated.

I drink too much, I smoke too much, I gamble too much. I am too much

Cracker was a staple on Brit TV from 1993-1996, with a final installment made in 2006. Fitz is wonderfully played by the very talented Robbie Coltrane, this guy wears a character the way that most of us can only dream of.

Cracker is not like any regular cop show that I have ever seen, the episodes were mainly about 50 minutes log (1 hour after adverts) and the stories tended to span 2 or three episodes. The other interesting aspect is the writing, as the series progressed so did the complexity of Fitz’s character, sometimes the crimes are almost an afterthought, the main thrust being the turmoil of just being Fitz. The crimes are almost overshadowed by the interactions between the main characters. For me, I view this as a wonderfully creative direction for the writers to have taken.

One of the problems with becoming typecast in a TV role is that it can become a career killer, yet that did not happen to Robbie Coltrane, the proof of that is in him becoming Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies. But there is no doubt in my mind that Cracker could have been a potential career ender.

In total there are 11 mysteries in this collection, and with a running time of over 22 hours there is plenty of entertainment. I believe that the cable channel BBC America has aired the show here in the US, but I doubt that many people in the US have seen this wonderful series. The themes are very dark, and if this was a cinematic release the MPAA would certainly slap an ‘R’ rating on it. This is very much a ‘thinking mans’ show. The world is a harsh place, and Cracker shows it in its worst, yet believable light. Over the years I have met ‘Cracker’ several times. The drunk, the boor, the lecher, yet highly intelligent individual that you love to hate.

You can order you copy by clicking on the link Cracker: The Complete DVD Collection

Simon Barrett

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