Cracker - Complete Collection [DVD]
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�Fitz� Fitzgerald is an insulting, nosy, loathsome individual who is a drunken excuse for a husband, a lousy father and a gambling washout, but he has one saving grace--he is a brilliant psychologist with an uncanny ability to see evil in people, make them confess and walk away unscathed. He understands the criminal mind probably because his mind isn�t that far removed from the criminals he deals with.
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Bleedy fentestic, this box set.
Ol' Hagrid is off moonlighting to support his drink habit and he's not too worried about upsetting people, so he goes for it with gusto. Coltrane is working hard here, "doing acting" with real passion and skill and it's a million miles away from his famous typecasting. A remarkable, alienating performance which of course is not always unsympathetic but always oddly tragic.
Against the anti-hero, we have some thought-provoking, involving television but as I think you've gathered, it's not exactly fluffy. It's enjoyable but not always "pleasant."
Ten episodes feature David Eccleston as DCI David Bilborough, the role that really first put him on the map. (Discuss.)
The absolute hi-light of the series is To Be a Somebody, the story between Coltrane, Eccleston and the absolutely terrifying Robert Carlyle. It's harrowing and heart-rending and among the best low budget drama I've ever seen and I'm not giving you any spoilers.
Get it or borrow it, but see it.
Dr. Edward Fitzgerald ("Fitz") picks up occasional jobs like lecturing, counselling and even hosting radio phone-ins but, for the purposes of this series, he is employed by the Greater Manchester Police as a criminal "profiler" - an expert who would study the evidence assembled by the police and hand them a psychological profile of their most likely suspect.
The series has its strengths and weaknesses. The strengths are to be found in the main and supporting characters: Coltrane (obviously) as the anti-hero; Christopher Eccleston as the young career D.C.I. and his subsequent replacement by the surly but sometimes wisecracking (sorry) D.C.I. Wise (Ricky Tomlinson); the creepy D.S. Beck (Lorcan Cranitch) and the young and slim D.S. Penhaligon (Geraldine Somerville) who is Fitz's love/lust interest and proves that opposites must attract. One notable supporting actor must be Robert Carlyle who appears as a killer in one episode only, but steals the show in it.
Unfortunately, the series falls down in the detail. I can't speak from experience, so perhaps someone who IS in the know can confirm that a profiler wouldn't be found at a scene of crime or at an autopsy. Fitz not only does these things, but he magically names the culprit(s) and their motives by taking only one look at the crime scene or the body.
If you suspend disbelief, this IS an enjoyable series. Some people will have episodes they didn't like; I've found something to enjoy in all of them. Well, maybe apart from the fact that almost everyone smokes continually. Fitz only stops so that he can light another and in the eponymously titled final episode, originally called "Nine Eleven", after a return from a spell in Australia, he is told that the police station is now totally non-smoking. So, as if to prove something, he lights up one after the other and no-one says a word. I don't think so.
An original idea - a psychologist badly in need of a psychologist - makes for good television when mixed in with the detective plots, and it's great to have the boxed collection at around £2 per episode.
Throughout the first nine episodes you get a continuing insight into Fitz's domestic problems and the build up to his entanglement with a work colleague..............Up to this point the series deserves 5 stars and that is what I give it. However, In the story: White Ghost, Fitz is sent to Hong Kong: here the series loses its momentum. Reluctantly, I give this story 3 stars. The final story 'Cracker' is dire and should never have been released.
I suppose that in the modern fashion anything over ten years old is regarded as 'vintage' or 'retro' and the original outings spanned the mid 1990s, I thought that the series were excellent when I saw odd episodes on television, bought the VHS releases, and have now upgraded to this DVD box set.
I had forgotten how good this series really was until I watched them again just recently. The Jimmy McGovern screenplays are totally absorbing and the acting from the entire cast is of the highest standard. The final episode was added on as a one off ten years after the originals, this seldom works and although good it cannot quite be rated five star with the earlier series.
Overall, I personally thought this set was worth every penny.
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