Starring Robert Pastorelli (Murphy Brown) as "Fitz" Fitzgerald, a brilliant but abrasive police psychologist working with the L.A.P.D. Fitz doesn't fit the typical psychologist stereotype; he's a drinker, a gambler an... more »d cheats on his wife. Fritz has uncanny success interrogating criminals and cracking cases; after all, he understands their vices, weaknesses and perversities.« less
This series went straight to my keeper shelf, as well as the British counterpart which inspired it. Highly amusing, kept my rapt attention, and provided some great belly laughing stress relief. Intelligently written crime drama, with a fresh spin on the genre...dark...like reality often is in these unhappy-ending situations. The episodes mirror the British ones...some of these written by the same writer. If you like crime shows...try this one on for size.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Nancy H. (nanirish) from DECATUR, GA Reviewed on 10/1/2008...
Fabulous series. Similar to British of same name.
Robin F. (MINI-NANA) from LOUISA, VA Reviewed on 12/6/2007...
Fabulous Series, although very short-lived. Robert Pastorelli is supurb in this American version of the series. You will enjoy!
Give it a Chance
Kenneth L. Owen | Seatle, Washington United States | 08/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The American version of Cracker needs to been seen. When it played on ABC, I'm sure those who were unfamiler with the U.K. version didn't know what to make of this show. Pretty damn faithfull to the original version, American audience's didn't quite know what to make of it. Way Way too dark for the U.S.. Too Smart?? Most likely. So no matter how good it is, it will fail. The series was not dumbed down, and many of the episodes were taken directly from the U.K. versions. Episodes where there is no such thing as a happy ending. Americans don't seem to like that. Things that they have to think about, and things that don't really work out. But that is life. We don't seem to be able to grasp reality here in the states. Anyways the late Robert Pastorelli, equals Robbie Coltrain's performance as Fitz. I loved this show when it first premiered, then it disappeared. I'm so happy to be able to own it now. It will stand proudly right next to the U.K.'s Cracker in my DVD collection. Robbie Coltrain "
Worthwhile in its entirety
Bawlmer Guy | Mount Airy, MD, USA | 09/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There's no way this U.S. version ever could have equalled the UK original by Granada Television, even though the U.S. show was co-produced by Granada. If for no other reason, the necessary constraints of American network television when this series aired on ABC instantly resolved the question. Nudity, profanity, and violence more freely play on British broadcasts as, now, they do on American cable TV programs. Still, in this U.S. version there is more than enough of what made the UK original great to warrant watching and even owning the DVDs.
The striking difference between the appearance of the U.S. and UK casts makes sense: in the U.S. version, the cops look and act like American men and women. Robert Pastorelli plays a New Jerseyite transplanted to L.A., not a Scotsman transplanted to Manchester. More important, his Fitz is as much an abusive, arrogant, intellectual bully as Robbie Coltrane's reading and just as worthy of comeuppance. Angela Featherstone portrays an American version of Jane Penhaligon with nuance and subtlety, spot-on for the repressed, passive/aggressive character. Robert Wisdom (more recently of The Wire) plays the Jimmy Beck character without the angst that yielded the Grand Opera character arc (more on that below) of the later Jimmy McGovern-penned UK episodes. Instead, African-American Wisdom embodies the "black vs. blue" issue that's more relevant in the States than in the UK. Smoldering R. Lee Ermey is alternately threatening and paternal as the cops' boss. Carolyn McCormick plays the beleaguered Judith Fitzgerald well, but it's unfortunate that as written she's less fiery and less ethically ambiguous than Barbara Flynn. That's a shortcoming of the U.S. version. But in general, the cast is a fine ensemble, just different from the UK original--although it's fair to say that UK casting is always excellent from top to bottom, and some of the guest stars in the U.S. version are not quite up to snuff. However, the final episode of the U.S. series almost single-handedly makes this collection worth the price of admission. It's a treat to see guest star Robbie Coltrane as a murder suspect who says to Pastorelli's Fitz, "I know your work." Clearly the show offered enough to warrant Coltrane's participation.
Of the sixteen episodes here, six are distillations of UK originals (the entire first UK series, as well as "True Romance" and "Best Boys"). Also, the two-part U.S. episode "First Love" is written by Paul Abbott, who wrote the UK episodes "True Romance," "Best Boys," and "Lucky White Ghost" and who was a producer on the UK show. It would be interesting to learn whether Granada originally intended "First Love" for the UK Cracker. The script certainly would have capped off the Grand Opera story arc (centered on Bilborough, Beck, and Penhaligon) that infused the UK episodes "To Be A Somebody," "Men Should Weep," and "Brotherly Love." The episode never aired on ABC and wasn't seen until the show ran on A&E (according to the liner notes). Still, "First Love" is a high point of the series, both for the tense script and for the performances of the regular cast and the guest stars--Lucinda Jenney (the multiple-personality murderer from the "Extreme Unction" episode of Homicide: Life On the Street) and Nick Chinlund (the death-fetishist killer from The X-Files episode "Irresistible"), surely a welcome pair on any show. But for the most part the U.S. producers avoided such Sturm-und-Drang plots in favor of straightforward case-of-the-week stories. Note that the U.S. episode "An American Dream" is erroneously credited as based on "To Be Somebody" (with "To Be A Somebody" it shares only the heart-attack subplot).
So half of the episodes here stem from Cracker's creative team at Granada. Of the episodes based on Jimmy McGovern's originals, the format demands the diminished returns of distillation. In other words, how do you pack three 50-minute UK episodes into one 44-minute U.S. episode with commercial breaks? The only answer is "the best that you can," retaining the minimum necessary exposition and the high points of character and theme. Speaking of which, the U.S. version captures much of the UK original's feel in that it uses rapid editing to move the story along, then lingers on the meat of Fitz interrogating his "victims." The result is generally as bleak and ambiguous as the UK show, a more interesting mix than the high (but cookie-cutterish) quality of NYPD Blue or Law and Order.
All of the U.S. Cracker episodes not based on the UK originals are very much in keeping with the Cracker spirit. Each offers something worthwhile, and those written by producer Natalie Chaidez are especially good. Her two-episode teleplay "If" is on par with the Paul Abbott-penned installments produced on either side of the Atlantic. From start to finish "If" is a tense, provocative showcase for tough issues and good acting. Also, it's better than "Lucky White Ghost," "Best Boys," and writer Ted Whitehead's "The Big Crunch."
Which illuminates the bottom line: the U.S. Cracker at its best offers more than the least interesting of the UK Cracker installments. Jimmy McGovern's work on Cracker stands above the vast majority of television ever produced. Anyone else's Cracker script is a reinterpretation of McGovern's original, powerful work, regardless of who plays the central characters. So if Granada says it's Cracker, and it's written by Paul Abbott or Ted Whitehead or Natalie Chaidez, then it's Cracker. And like the UK original, this show works well when viewed as a lengthy body of work rather than on an episode-by-episode basis. For the open-minded Cracker fan, there's enough tasty meat to recommend the U.S. version, even if it doesn't stack up to McGovern's originals. How could anything, really?"
Not a rip off
Sam Tyler | CALIFORNIA, USA | 04/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the reviews states that this Cracker is a ripoff of the UK show. How can it be a rip off when you are told in the credits this show is based on the Granada TV show. Granada, the original producer of the UK show, created a US arm to co produce this show for ABC. So please be careful how you use the word "rip off".
If anything, Granada should have made sure the show could live up to its British cousin. And in a way I think it did. Another comment written here says US audiences don't usually like a challenge when watching tv. Dark stories challenge you and the feel good factor isn't there at all. So maybe the fault is in the network not knowing how what to do with this show. Perhaps if the show was produced now it would be a hit since people are in a darker place in this post 9/11 world. It is a shame we don't have Robert Pastorelli to play Fitz anymore, but I am sure there are other actors out there who would take on such a role.
In some ways wouldn't you say House is a distant cousin of Fitz? And House is a top rating show. So maybe ABC can resurrect Cracker."
An Addictive Series
David Gannon | 03/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Pastorelli won me over. I didn't care for him at first. Too academic, too much the know it all; but I discovered that the fallible "Fitz" with his vices and weaknesses was not easily fooled by himself nor was he fooled for long by the suspects he interrogated. After the third or fourth episode I was hooked, and watching all sixteen hours became a priority for me."