Robbie Coltrane is now embraced around the world as the hulking and fuzzy Hagrid in the Harry Potter film series. Hes a friend to all the good kids at Hogwarts. For decades hes been known for appearing in various English TV comedy shows including The Young Ones and The Black Adder. The comic actor became legendary with an extremely serious turn as Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald in Cracker. Hes a psychologist in Manchester who doesnt suffer fools. He has plenty of self-inflicted suffering with his drinking and bad luck gambling streak. While he works with the police, he doesnt wear a badge. This doesnt make his wife any happier that his moonlighting gig doesnt pay. He owes a lot. Cracker: The Complete Collection boxes up all 11 mysteries that made him icon of crime solving.
“The Mad Woman In the Attic” introduces us to Fitz as not the most beloved of TV dads. His life is a mess. His wife has had it with him after she finds out hes taken out a loan on the house to cover a massive gambling debt. His son doesnt have any respect for him. Hes sick of his patients telling him about their problems. He gets a shock to the system when a former student becomes the victim of a serial killer that prowls the rail system. The cops at first dont care for Fitzs offer of help. But the family wants him to assist. The cops find a suspect who had leaped from the train. The guy claims he has amnesia. Fitz cant believe the guy is a killer, but wants to jar his memory in hopes it will lead to the real madman. The series plays like a tense movie instead of episodic televsion. Director Michael Winterbottom has gone on to helm several films including 24 Hour Party People and A Might Heart.
“To Say I Love You” puts Fitz in a tough situation. He gets busted for a minor charge. Hes pulled out of the cell to help analyze a couple arrested for joyriding. The couple end up snowballing in their life of crime. Its up to Fitz to stop them. “The Big Crunch” gives us an early taste of Samantha Morton (Sweet and Lowdown & Minority Report). Shes a young member of a church. She doesnt merely have an affair with a rising minister, but gets knocked up. The ministers wife is upset at this affair. She kidnaps the girl and plots her death. Fitz is going through a nasty divorce. He uses the case as a distraction from his lifes failures. The ministers wife isnt very Christian when it comes to protecting her husbands reputation. “To Be a Somebody” has Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting) getting sick of the system thats keeping him down. His rage turns to homicide. Hes got an intensity thats worth of Fitzs attention.
“White Ghost” takes Fitz to the other side of the world. While in Hong Kong for a lecture, hes approached by the local police force to investigate a murder. Its kinda like an old Charlie Chan film with the famous criminologist being brought on the case. However Chan was never as prickly as Fitz. Hes milking the police for a nice payday, a room at the Ritz-Carlton and flying in his old police contact. Its strange to see him on the same police turf as John Woo films, but not out of place. “A New Terror” is a return movie that aired in 2006. Fitz returns to Manchester after a decade in Australia. Its his daughters wedding and hes rather disappointed in his son-in-law. Hes blown away by all the changes in the old hometown. He quickly discovers that even with the upgrade, theres still violence lurking. An American comedian is murdered in a nightclub bathroom. In order to avoid family time, Fitz offers his services one more time to the cops.
Coltrane is such a stud in the character of Fitz. When he stares a suspect in the eye and uses his psychological kung fu, its better any choreographed buttkicking Walker, Texas Ranger delivers. The scripts arent your normal cliched murder mysteries. Theres a lot of digging on the screen. If youre a fan of cerebral crime shows such as The Wire or Prime Suspect, youre going to embrace Cracker. You might remember an American version with Robert Pastorelli (Murphy Brown). It lacked the edge that makes Coltranes rendition compelling television. Dont let that experience jade your chance to explore Coltranes crowning moment. Cracker: The Complete Collection lets him use his comic charm in gruesome situations without making these heavy crimes light affairs.
The Mad Woman in the Attic,” “To Say I Love You,”To Say I Love You,” “One Day a Lemming Will Fly,” “To Be a Somebody,” “The Big Crunch,” “Men Should Weep,” “Brotherly Love,” “Best Boys,” “True Romance,” “White Ghost” and “A New Terror.”
The video for “A New Terror” is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The video on the other episodes is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers improve in quality over the years. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. Sometimes the Manchester accents get a little thick so youll need to turn up the volume.
Cracker: Behind the Series (45:46) gives a thorough history of the series. it was shot during the making of “A New Terror.” Plenty of background secrets are exposed in the creation of the series. We finally hear from the true mind of Fitz, Jimmy McGovern, the writer of a majority of episodes.
â€¨Robbie Coltrane Biography is a text rundown of the actors life. His last name is a tribute to John Coltrane.
â€¨Cast Filmographies gives the resume to six actors featured in “A New Terror.”
Cracker: The Complete Collection is must viewing for fans of crime films and psychologists. Fitz is one of the greatest TV crime fighters. The only thing that rivals his ability to breakdown a crime scene is the destruction of his life. Cracker is a prime cop show thats essential viewing. Coltranes Fitz deserves to be inducted in the crime fighter hall of fame next to Columbo and McNulty.
Acorn Media presents Cracker: The Complete Collection. Starring Robbie Coltrane, Geraldine Somerville, Kieran OBrien and Christopher Eccleston. Boxset Contents: 11 Episodes on 10 DVDs. Released on DVD: March 10, 2009. Available at Amazon.
Tags: crime, England, Harry Potter, Prime Suspect, The Wire