10-disk box set on DVD
powerful, intelligent, and utterly, utterly
a personal favourite it would have to be "To be a
somebody" with Robert Carlyle
by Jimmy McGovern (with Robbie
First screened in 1993, Jimmy McGovern's Cracker was
at once a variation on a familiar theme and a daring new departure from
the run-of-the-mill cop show. Robbie Coltrane's Fitz is an independent
criminal psychologist called in by the police to help them crack
intractable cases, usually involving grisly serial murders. But like its
Granada TV stablemate Prime
Suspect, Cracker also delves deep into the main characters'
personal lives, revealing a chaos of emotional entanglements that become
increasingly inseparable from their professional duties.
Coltrane's charismatic presence dominates: the contrast between
Fitz's professionalism and his complete inability to diagnose his own
psychological failings provides much of the show's dramatic impetus. His
frequent interrogations of murder suspects are tour de force
demonstrations of coolly analytical method shot through with biting
humour. But his drunken, intemperate behaviour towards his wife and
everyone else is a telling contrast of extremes, and one that creates
dangerous resentment among his colleagues. Coltrane is supported by a
strong cast that includes Barbara Flynn, Geraldine Somerville, Lorcan
Cranitch (as the terrifyingly unstable DS Jimmy Beck), Christopher
Eccleston, and a pre-Royle Family Ricky Tomlinson. McGovern's
screenplays balance gritty, Manchester-based realism with splendidly
mordant wit, making Cracker simply riveting viewing.
On the UK DVD: This complete Cracker 10-disc box set
contains all three series that ran from 1993-95. The feature-length
episodes are: "The Mad Woman in the Attic", "Say I Love You", "One Day a
Lemming Will Fly" (Series 1); "Be a Somebody", "The Big Crunch", "Men
Should Weep" (Series 2); "Brotherly Love", "Best Boys", "True Romance"
(Series 3); "White Ghost" (1996 special).
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