Cracker, episodes 1 and 2

[Screenshot]This was sort of the House of police procedurals, i guess, in that the central figure is a completely repulsive human being who is extraordinarily good at his job. It’s not for laughs in Cracker though, so the tone is quite different. Robbie Coltrane (best known in the US nowadays for his depiction of Rubeus Hagrid on the big screen) does an effective job of being suspicious, antagonistic, and so helplessly repulsive that you feel a little sorry for him despite the fact that the character deserves his misery. Solid points on characterization, and he’s got some good police-officer secondary characters to bounce off of (mostly the belieaguered and frequently-patronized Panhaligon in thise story arc).

Unfortunately, even good characters can’t save a flawed story, and I think Cracker got off to a kind of shaky start. We start with retrograde amnesia as a plot point. Retrograde amnesia is both a terrible cliche and extremely uncommon in the real world, so any self-respecting scriptwriter should avoid it, especially as a pilot episode. Parts of the story would work well with short-term memory loss instead, and that’s a far more likely result of trauma. That’s of course story-criticism #1, and it’s so episode-specific that I hope the next arc can fix that. The other problem’s far more insidious: namely, how does a writer, imperfect human that he is, write a character of extraordinary deductive talents? There’s the hard way, which is spending a lot of time coming up with deductions beyond one’s ordinary means. Then there’s the easy way, which is making the “normals” around your ostensible genius dumb enough to make even comparatively mundane deductions seem brilliant. Hate to rag on a series whose characters I found generally powerful, but why is the police force so ineffectual and dumb. They never seem to seriously consider the second obvious possibility concerning their anonymous but well-informed tipster. Someone who knows that much about a crime should automatically be a seriously considered suspect. But, no, they charge ahead with the original theory not even considering that they might be wrong. If I were surrounded by people as frustratingly dense as this, I might drink as much as Fitz does too.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.


About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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