CRACKER

Starring: Robbie Coltrane, Christopher Eccleston, Ricky Tomlinson

Format: BBCAmerica (cable TV) -- one-hour format, some shows are "continued" **Check program listings (or website) for air dates/times.

Genre: Mystery/drama

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

There is good news and bad news. The bad news first. There are no plans to make any more Cracker episodes, and from what I hear, probably no more movie length episodes either. Coltrane tired of the series, both physically and psychologically, we're told. End of story. The good news is that the episodes that were filmed are, for the most part, well done and re-watchable. You won't mind seeing an episode more than once. And if you're like me, every time you stumble across an episode, while channel surfing, you'll set the remote control aside and watch, no matter how much of the episode you've already missed by arriving late.

Fitz (Robbie Coltrane) is a clinical psychologist who does profiling for the Manchester police, sometimes without their consent, and many times, without them wanting him around. His ability to empathize with some of the criminals and his distaste for the way police handle crimes and criminals puts him at odds with some on the police force. Still, he's almost always the first one they call when they need insight into a criminal's mind and behavior. And the solutions to the predicaments Fitz finds himself in are not always neat and tidy by the end of the hour.

Taken individually, the episodes are compelling enough, but taken as a whole, when the series ends, you'll wonder how you're going to survive without new episodes. You'll wonder what Cracker is doing now. What happened with his wife and his family? Is he still gambling? Still drinking? Still self-destructing on his way through life?

Of course there are no answers to these questions. It was only a TV show. But the characters are so well drawn, they'll become like family to you. This is a great example of what can be accomplished with a truly ensemble cast that are all first-rate actors. You will love some, hate some, and cry for some.

If you check the website for BBCAmerica, you can locate the section devoted to the Cracker mystery series and find out more about the characters, the schedule of shows, the discussion forums, and even an episode guide.

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