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Cracker: Series 1

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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(Oct 14, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Hot on the heels of PRIME SUSPECT came Robbie Coltrane's (Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies) outstanding creation of "Fitz," in the PBS series CRACKER. Fitz is an addicted gambler, a heavy drinker, and a brilliant if deeply flawed criminal psychologist. He is, to the working mind of a killer what CSI is to a trace of blood or a single hair. For Fitz, murder is just the beginning. Three stories follow Fitz as he investigates an accused commuter train killer with amnesia, a couple who share love and murder, and the killing of a young boy that shakes a community to its core.

The compelling Cracker is among the more exciting British mystery series from the 1990s, featuring a hero so flawed he's just as likely to end up inside a jail cell as outside chasing bad guys. Robbie Coltrane, perhaps best known for playing Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, is unconventional psychologist Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald, a rotund teacher who exhorts students to look within their dark hearts and who gleefully embraces his own addictions to gambling, booze, and nicotine.

Caught in a downward spiral, Fitz sneers as his debts mount and his wife (Barbara Flynn) leaves him, but he rallies when a favorite student is slashed to death on a train in series debut "The Mad Woman in the Attic." The suspect, a longtime amnesiac, is put through grueling police torments, but Fitz believes in the man's innocence, thus establishing his ambivalent relationship with Detective Chief Inspector Bilborough (Christopher Eccleston) and a quasi-romantic alliance with another detective, Jane "Panhandle" Penhaligon (Geraldine Somerville, also from the Potter films). Michael Winterbottom, now a renowned feature filmmaker (Welcome to Sarajevo), provides admirable direction.

Fitz's interest in obsessive behavior and his talent for spinning out instant psychological profiles makes him invaluable to Bilborough in subsequent episode "To Say I Love You," in which a rage-filled young man and his scheming girlfriend kill a loan shark. Though the story is less interesting than the Cracker pilot, Fitz's slow crawl back to self-respect and resentful cooperation with his estranged wife's therapist are irresistible entertainment. Finally, "One Day a Lemming Will Fly," in which the murder of a 13-year-old boy sparks a lynch-mob mentality among the public, is a strong two-parter that raises some interesting crises for Fitz. Does he belong with his wife and kids or with Panhandle? Is he better at his job when his personal life is a disaster? The provocative final scenes make one hunger to see more of Cracker. --Tom Keogh

Special Features

  • All 3 TV movies on 3 discs

Product Details

  • Actors: Ian Mercer, Amelia Bullmore, Robbie Coltrane
  • Directors: Michael Winterbottom, Jean Stewart (III), Charles McDougall, Julian Jarrold, Simon Cellan Jones
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Hbo Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: October 14, 2003
  • Run Time: 364 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AYJVA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,970 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Cracker: Series 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ben Rowland on November 8, 2003
Format: DVD
"Cracker" may be just another in a long line of British crime dramas that were very popular in the early 90's, but "Cracker" stands out as one of the sharpest, wittiest, and most intelligently written of them all. I would say it is even better than "Prime Suspect", which is another personal favorite.
Robbie Coltrane plays his most memorable part as Fitz, a criminal psychologist who has an uncanny ability of getting into the minds of his subjects, and getting under the skin of anyone who knows him. His is an overweight, alcoholic compulsive who gambles, chain smokes, and cheats on his wife. This is balanced out by his brilliance and articulate nature. The series follows him as he helps a group of police inspectors solve various murders, while he copes with the problems in his own life. To call the series riveting is an understatement, it is bloody brilliant.
The episodes in the first season are "The Mad Woman in the Attic", where a young woman is found murdered on a train, and the only suspect has amnesia. This is one of the best episodes. The next one is "To Say I Love You", a Bonnie & Clyde story where two young lovers go on a murder spree. And the last episode is "One Day A Lemming Will Fly", where a young boy is murdered and the only suspect is the boy's English teacher, who is also believed to be homosexual. All episodes are 2 hours long, so you can expect to spend a good 6 hours with this DVD set.
The quality of the episodes is where the perks of this set ends. If the quality of the DVD package was the sole consideration, I would recommend this to nobody. For starters, the episodes are presented in 4:3 full frame, not widescreen like most other TV shows transferred to DVD tend to have.
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Format: DVD
If you go in for police procedurals and the psychological mysteries, this is about as good as it gets. The writing and acting are superb. Also, for those complaning about a missing Episode III in "One Day A Lemming Will Fly", I checked. There is no Episode III. Not in the UK, and not in the US. That was the the way it was meant to end. In this show, like in life, you don't always tie up all the loose ends.
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Format: DVD
I have these episodes on video, and I have to tell you, Cracker is one of the best mystery/detective dramas EVER. Robbie Coltrane, as Fitz (the "Cracker" of the title) is compelling to watch, as he deals with his attraction to the young DI Penhaligon (Geraldine Sommerville), his gambling problem, his drinking problem, his ever-more-irritated wife Judith, his ever-more-distant children, and whatever mystery he is solving in each episode. Fitz, a forensic psychiatrist, is called (oftne over objections from some of the detectives) to assist the police force in their investigations.
The entire cast is flawless, particulary Coltrane, Summerville, and Christopher Eccleston as DCI Bilbrough. The mysteries are involving, it is impossible to stop watching! Don't start watching this at night. You won't want to go to bed until you've seen them all.
Excellent British detective series, excellent drama about a man fighting his own demons along with those of society.
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Format: DVD
Crime/Drama/Police (This is not the 1997-1998 ABC show that was based on the UK show, this is the UK show)

British show starring Robbie Coltrane as Dr. Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald. Fitz is a criminal psychologist that helps the local UK police catch criminals. Fitz is quite good at helping the police, but he has trouble with his marriage/family due to his addictions (gambling, drinking, etc.). The first series aired in the UK in 1993 and also starred Lorcan Cranitch (Det. Sgt. Jimmy Beck; an angry violent cop); Christopher Eccleston (DCI David Bilborough; head of the detective group); Barbara Flynn (Judith Fitzgerald, Fitz's wife); Geraldine Somerville (Det. Sgt. Jane Penhaligon: while bucking for a promotion, she ends up in something of a relationship with Fitz). Cracker's first series was written by Jimmy McGovern. This series is a very gripping, realistic police drama. Highly enjoyable. Warning: The dead bodies are sometimes seen in all their nudity on an examining table during the show's progress (not exactly easy to sit through, especially when the bodies are carved up and the insides are revealed).

There are three stories in the first season/series. The first season of "Cracker" tells its stories over several episodes (2 or 3 episodes). The first series includes the story "The Mad Woman in the Attic," told in two episodes, "To Say I Love You," told in three episodes, and "One Day a Lemming will Fly," told in two episodes.

The Mad Woman series of episodes finds Fitz helping the police investigating a serial killer, and the prime suspect is a amnesiac bloody man found near the train (first episode 4.22 & 2nd episode: 4.43).
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There's no doubt that Cracker is an outstanding series, whatever the medium. However, this transfer to DVD is disappointing. The packaging is nice, but a series like this deserves all the best, rather than mere eye-candy. I can't recall if Cracker was originally televised in the States with something other than 4:3 aspct ratio, but at least one of these discs reveals that the original aspect ratio was something other than the 4:3 this package delivers. In "One Day a Lemming Will Fly" the edges of the opening credits are actually clipped and, presumeably, so is the rest of the disc, and all the others: none of the episodes in this set are anything other than 4:3. It's a crying shame that one of the best mystery series in the history of the genre is given second rate treatment. Thank the Good Lord for inspired comapnies, like Criterion, that give fine films all of the loving care they deserve.
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