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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TV Copland's Finest Hour
"You're the one who needs the psychologist," a murder suspect tells Fitz (Robbie Coltrane) in the first ever episode of Cracker. As things transpire, it's a painfully accurate description. Fitz is a wreck, hopelessly hooked on cigarettes, booze and gambling, in denial over his ailing marriage while liaising with the Manchester police as a psychological profiler. He's a...
Published on 22 May 2003 by isurfer

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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buyer beware
It's rare that I regret buying off of Amazon UK. BBC shows that are shown in the United States have 12-15 minutes cut out and storylines don't always come through.

I own all of the previous Cracker series and occasionally pull them out and still enjoy them. The stories are still good and the acting top-rate. I would recomend them anytime.

This latest...
Published on 19 Dec 2006 by talibaarabia


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TV Copland's Finest Hour, 22 May 2003
"You're the one who needs the psychologist," a murder suspect tells Fitz (Robbie Coltrane) in the first ever episode of Cracker. As things transpire, it's a painfully accurate description. Fitz is a wreck, hopelessly hooked on cigarettes, booze and gambling, in denial over his ailing marriage while liaising with the Manchester police as a psychological profiler. He's a doomed figure, and as played by Coltrane he burns a hole in the small screen. It's an epic performance, built on a series of brave, no-holds-barred scripts from writer Jimmy McGovern. If Fitz is McGovern's most memorable creation he's also (to date) Coltrane's finest hour. You get the feeling Coltrane truly understands Fitz's dark vision of the world, a vision that allows him to unlock the minds of killers.
The Cracker stories really work best if watched in sequence. Beginning with 'The Mad Woman In The Attic' through 'To Say I Love You' and 'One Day A Lemming Will Fly' you get a feeling of slow descent towards tragedy.
McGovern doesn't pull any punches. It's shocking to see characters we've come to know and love being slowly torn apart by the job. If there's a turning point in the series - a point where we suddenly realize this is only going to grow darker and darker - it's somewhere between parts four and six, 'To Be A Somebody' (Robert Carlyle is on fire as a bereaved soccer supporter taking revenge on the police for Hillsborough) and 'Men Should Weep', an unflinching examination of rape. The treatment of sexual violence caused a minor storm at the time, and there are moments here and especially in 'Brotherly Love' which some viewers will find hard to watch. 'Brotherly Love' was McGovern's last word on the subject and truly overpowering. Later episodes, written by Paul Abbott, were less explosive, but it would've been hard to top what had gone before.
The only downside to this DVD set is the 4:3 aspect ratio; but assuming that's how it was originally framed it's hard to nitpick. If you can live with that, you'll get TV drama at its absolute best, a landmark series that deserves every one of its accolades.
With a fabulous supporting cast including: Geraldine Somerville (D.S. Jane Penhaligan), Lorcan Cranitch (D.S. Jimmy Beck), Christopher Eccleston (D.C.I. David Bilborough).
Highly recommended.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Welcome addition to DVD, 4 Jun 2003
By A Customer
It is not very often that a series is crying out to be put on DVD. The big three I would choose would be Coldfeet, Inspector Morse and Cracker. Now Cracker is out, my collection is complete. I recently purchased this boxset before boarding a long flight, the onboard movies did not even get a look in for the whole journey. This series is just as exciting as it was when it was first broadcast. Christopher Eccleston and Robbie Coltrane are perfect together on screen. When Eccleston left the series it was difficult to see if the series would be as good without him. No need to worry as Ricky Tomlinson was a perfect replacement. If I had to choose one single episode as a personal favorite it would have to be "To be a somebody" which featured Robert Carlyle. The only thing missing from this set is a commentary from the writer Jimmy McGovern. Despite this small blemish, it is an excellent buy!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best TV series!!!, 9 Nov 2003
"CRACKER" is an outstanding series with a brilliant script and some great performances. Technically, the DVD presentation is good,
but the complete absence of any extra material and/or some subtitles is a bit of a drawback for this definitive presentation.
I was also a bit sad, that in "To Say I Love You", one of the best films in the series, the Cocteau Twins-Song "Pandora" was missing
(which was included when broadcast on TV), perhaps too expensive for Granada.
But apart from that : Great to have the complete series in one set!!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buyer beware, 19 Dec 2006
By 
talibaarabia (Marina del Rey) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cracker: Cracker [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
It's rare that I regret buying off of Amazon UK. BBC shows that are shown in the United States have 12-15 minutes cut out and storylines don't always come through.

I own all of the previous Cracker series and occasionally pull them out and still enjoy them. The stories are still good and the acting top-rate. I would recomend them anytime.

This latest Cracker is a pass. The story just wasn't there. It doesn't matter how good the actors are now or were in the past series. There's nothing enjoyable about Fitz or the storyline and it is such a shame.

My comparison is this: The last Cracker episode and last Prime Suspect episode came out about the same time. The writing and storyline on Prime Suspect was excellent and it was a stoic good-bye to Jane Tennison. The writer knew the history of the character and maintained it in the storyline. Cracker: A New Terror does not hold up. Everything that made the character interesting in the older episodes is gone. The new episode was painful to watch.

I'll go back to watching the old Cracker and try to forget they even made this one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely collection......... BUT NO EXTRAS!, 13 Nov 2003
We have some outstanding movies in this great box, but there are just no extras included, not even any subtitles, it's just pointless.
Any way lets just move onto the good points, Robbie coltrane is amazing, very funny and talented and we have a very strong and scary performance with Robert carlyle in the best one "To be a somebody". The story, Fitz (Robbie coltrane) is a criminal psychologist but he has a dark side-a side on a cocktail of alcahol and gambling. He profiles suspects for the Manchester police force.
You might think that you are wasting your money on this collection, just buy them individually.
The best ones are, The mad woman in the attic, To say I love you, To be a somebody, Men should weep, Brotherly love and best boys.
I think that they are all quite good but there the best ones.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Drama, 29 May 2003
By 
Chris Wroblewski (Roxby Downs, SA Australia) - See all my reviews
I don't think anyone makes crime dramas as well as the Brits because the focus always seems to be on interesting characters rather than gun fights, etc. If a better crime series has been made than this, then I haven't seen it. The superb "To Be Somebody" (Disk 4) has totally unexpected events, but make sure you watch the stories in order: each story is self-contained, but the background continuity of the relationships is important.
The DVD quality, like that of most British TV series, is best described as just passable. The surround sound is good, but there is not so much joy with the picture. The feature is presented in a very strange aspect ratio, possibly 1.5 : 1, which I assume shows the complete unmatted film picture, but the credits are 1.33 : 1. There is not a single extra, and even the DVD slip case tells virtually nothing about the contents: there's more info in the Amazon review!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Manchester to Hong Kong... Jimmy does it again, 8 Mar 2004
If you are like me then you grew up with Robbie C in the Young Ones and the Comic Strip - right? Could you ever have imagined him less than a decade later playing a tough but compromised psychologist drawn into Manchester's crime world through results and building reputation?
No of course not.
This is what Robbie Coltrane does so well; building the character (possibly with Jimmy Mc's help of course) into the story line and seeing strong development as the series progressed. His character acting is simply inspired.
Stories are typical Mr McGovern, strong, powerful and ever-so-slightly unbelievable with characters to match.
Very powerful, excellent British crime drama. Do they write like this anymore? Probably not. Turn off your reality TV stuff and plug into this. When you are done with all ten hours, go get Prime Suspect and do the same again; More strong stories, charatcers and early 90's fashions/cars/mobile phones.
....If, on the other hand you know Robbie Coltrane best as a huge bearded school caretaker with a passion for owls and spiders... well you are either too young to watch Fitz or you are old enough to have kids of your own... :)
Highly, highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the most cheerful episode of them all, 5 May 2003
"Men Should Weep" is about rape, and it certainly doesn't skirt around the issue. Anyone looking forward to an episode like "To Say I Love You", with plenty of humour and a not-too-hard-hitting storyline will probably be taken aback by how bluntly the issue of rape is handled here. That is not to say that it is not handled without sensitivity, but let's just say that after watching this you won't have any delusions as to how devastating rape is.
Floyd Malcolm (Graham Aggrey) is a black taxi driver. When he overhears his white boss, Tom Carter (John McArdle) making a racist joke to his colleagues, Floyd rapes the man's wife at the swimming pool where she works. The rape scene is shocking but not exploitative in its violence. Floyd wears a hideous mask while he rapes Catherine Carter, and he covers her head with a black hood. When it's over, he sits with her and tries to strike up a conversation ("Was it too quick for you?"). He combs her pubic hair, then throws her into the pool itself, to cleanse her of forensic evidence. As we later learn, Floyd knows all the "tricks of the trade", because he's raped and been caught before.
This episode would probably have had less impact, had writer Jimmy McGovern not decided to have one of the main characters, D.S. Jane Penhaligon (Geraldine Somerville), become a victim of rape herself in the course of the story. By doing this, we are hit with the full impact of the crime, and even then McGovern doesn't flinch from showing us how relationships complicate and disintegrate as a result of rape.
This is generally accepted as the point in "Cracker" when the personal lives of the main characters became perhaps more interesting than those of the criminals. Penhaligon's attack was a clever move by McGovern, because the alcoholism and gambling addiction of Fitz (Robbie Coltrane), while still interesting, would probably have become a little monotonous as the series progressed.
There is an almost Shakesperian air of doom and gloom that surrounds this episode. After Penhaligon's rape, the humour that characterized many of the earlier episodes disappears almost entirely, and the incidental music enhances the feeling of oppression and fear that prevails throughout the story. It is all deeply unsettling, and once it has finished you will probably breathe a sigh of relief, so depressing is the subject matter.
It is hard to fault "Men Should Weep". It is wonderfully acted, heart-breakingly sad, depressingly convincing, and utterly riveting. You will not be able to tear your eyes away from it. As I said, not the most cheerful of episodes, but at least it's honest and true, unlike your average, cosy, 8:30pm ITV cop show.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Cracker. Not as I remember it, anyway., 30 July 2007
This review is from: Cracker: Cracker [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
I was inspired to write this review after reading the previous commentator's gushing nonsense, in the attempt - I suppose - to add a little perspective to this whole ITV shambles of a once fantastic series. The original three series run of Cracker from 1993 to 1995 were exceptional stuff, dented only by the bloodless 1996 "special", White Ghost, which saw Fitz take on a clichéd murder case in surprisingly subdued Hong Kong. The loss of Jimmy McGovern after the third season high-point Brotherly Love also saw the series fall into a kind of self parody, somewhat re-hashing the plot of second episode To Say I Love You for the penultimate episode Best Boys, or ripping off a Fatal Attraction style situation for the final episode True Romance (though, to be honest, the final confrontation here between Fitz and his suspect was absolutely perfect in its execution).

Now we have the return of Cracker; with the filmmakers exploiting the new look Manchester following the IRA terrorist bombing of 1996, and developing the thread of a plotline in which Fitz has to reacclimatise to the city following a 7 year hiatus spent living in Australia. The real reason Fitz is back in Manchester is to attend the wedding of his daughter and to spend some time with his grand kids. However, all of these character elements are quickly dropped when a disgruntled squaddie murders a young American in a nightclub toilet. For what seems like no reason at all, Fitz is brought in by the Manchester police to offer some expert perspective (despite the fact that they've already told him he won't be allowed to talk to the victims, the witnesses or the suspects), and soon decides (again, with very little evidence) that the suspect is a police officer (he also works out which police officer it is in the time it would usually take to make a cup of tea). When a second American is killed in his home, it becomes clear that the former squaddie has a serious political agenda liked specifically to the war in Iraq, and the current political world climate post 9/11.

What follows is some serious brick-batting around the issues of terrorism, as the story finds itself punctuated by news reports, conversations and stock footage that play out in some kind giddy, over excited parody of an Oliver Stone film that I personally found to be obvious and highly distracting. Fitz is a shadow of his former self here, given no time to develop his character or even build on the usual characteristics we've seen before. Worse still are the relationships between Fitz and his family - which are essentially non-existence - with his wife (played by a surprisingly aged Barbara Flynn) and now adult son (Kieran O'Brien, last seen as art-house porn drama 9 Songs) popping up in the background a few times before we cut to another piece of ITN stock footage or a needless Belfast-based flashback (probably best if I don't elaborate, so as not to deter from the plot).

This time around, there is no relationship between Fitz and the police. Admittedly, most of the key characters from the series couldn't come back (watch the original series and you'll find out why), but the lack of real involvement here is a major problem, and stretches the realism of the drama significantly. The magic of Cracker was always the subtle blending of police drama, soap opera and psychological thriller, but these have been toned down or removed completely for this twenty-first century up-date. The scrip shows how much McGovern has lost it as a writer, picking up where turgid BBC serial The Street left off with its lifeless characters, clichéd stories and obvious use of subject. Added to this, we also have the needlessly trendy direction from Antonia Bird (Priest, Face, Ravenous), which also included the ugly new title sequence and up-tempo dance-orientated soundtrack from New Order off-shoot The Other Two. The staging seems desperate, like an old man dancing to a Prodigy track at his daughter's wedding. The series didn't need this...

The thing I always loved about Cracker was its no-nonsense seriousness, and the refusal to follow contemporary trends. The direction was usually on a par with European art-house, in my opinion, with a great use of close-ups, fantastic framing, naturalistic lighting and the ability to create drama and tension without having to shake the camera around. Russell Clarke's self-satisfied twittering claims that Cracker "takes a sideswipe at the world's moral vacuum", but really, when we compare it to past episodes like To Be a Somebody and Brother Love, it's really nothing more than the self-righteous ravings of a miserable old man having a moan from the comfort of their armchair. Some of the details might be there, but ultimately this is Cracker-lite... a poor man's re-tread of one of the best dramas of the 90's, only with the drama replaced by screaming polemic. We expect more from Cracker, and certainly more from McGovern. Sadly, it seems those days are over.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderfully Brutal Masterpiece, 2 Jun 2003
By 
Its difficult to describe how good Cracker is. The intelligence behind the script, character development and acting have created something that can at times be perfect. The scenes of interview room confrontation have a power that is rarely caught on film. The care taken with the characters in showing who they really are, and what makes them tick, makes Cracker at its best like watching good friends going through the most traumatic days of their lives. This box set is powerful, intelligent, and utterly, utterly brilliant.
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Cracker: Cracker                                                        [DVD] [2006]
Cracker: Cracker [DVD] [2006] by Robbie Coltrane (DVD - 2006)
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