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"Cracker: Mind Over Murder" More at IMDbPro »"Cracker" (original title)

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32 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Boring

Author: Rosie-9
24 June 1999

This excruciating remake of the excellent British series is not worth wasting your time on.

The police in the original had skepticism coming out of their ears when it came to having a psychologist on the team, exactly as many real police officers would. The American version has them fawning after Fitz at every opportunity, which is not only unrealistic, it also set up little dramatic tension.

While the English version has quirky, interesting, believable characters, the American one has typical American pretty people. Particularly disappointing is the lack of characterisation of the police. The original has a range of people we came to know well: Penhaligon, the young officer trying to cope with an inept boss and pathetic "lad" culture. Beck, the old-fashioned copper whose unpleasant exterior barely covers his mental instability. Bilborough, a nice guy, but so soft he has to get Penhaligon to do the talking when visiting people with bad news. What do we get from the American version? A token black character whose name escapes me and a chicky-babe who looks like Pamela Anderson's cousin.

The actors who play Fitz and Penhaligon (renamed to something unmemorable) could easily be replaced by wooden blocks and no-one would have noticed the difference. There's no spark between them. You don't care about them and you aren't convinced by them. Same with the Fitz/Judith pairing - he says something soppy and she simpers "sentimentality becomes you, Fitz". The "real" Judith would have laughed or sneered.

I could go on, but it just isn't worth the bother. Take from me: if you don't want to see a great show trashed, avoid this load of drivel.

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25 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

So-so Remake of a British Show

Author: Max Turner from Denver, Colorado, USA, ex-UK
16 June 2004

This Cracker was OK, but a so-so remake of the original British TV series. Like so many US remakes of British TV, it was watered down by the US networks, who seem to treat American audiences like small children, and never let them see anything remotely "different".

The original British version starred Robbie Coltrane (Haggred in the Harry Potter movies), and his large, overweight frame helped make him a good anti-hero. It also made the romance between him and Sgt Jane Penhaligon all the more interesting (she was a slim red-head played by Geraldine Somerville). It was pretty obvious that she found him attractive because of his brains. In the US version, a slimmer actor was used. Why? Probably because US networks just won't EVER make the hero a fat guy, or perhaps because God forbid TV should suggest that looks aren't the most important thing in a relationship.

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26 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Sucks

Author: George Parker from Orange County, CA USA
3 June 2004

"Cracker" (1997), a shoddy knock-off of Jimmy McGovern's popular Brit series of the same name, is a waste of time. A simple minded, dumbed down commercial product, this TV flick fails on all levels. The characters all look like scale actors and were poorly cast. The screen play is uninspired rote. The premise is nebulous. The acting is marginal. The script is soap opera quality. The direction...well, I'm not sure there was any. Even the DVD was crap and not only had no CC's or subtitles but didn't even have a menu...just the two 45 minute episodes. Passable, forgettable junk. (C-)

Note - It's worth mentioning that I was spoiled by viewing the entire Brit "Cracker" series on DVD and consider it one of the best psychodramatic TV series ever made. Hence, my objectivity may be compromised.

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18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A VERY poor American imitation of the excellent British series

Author: martinu-2 from North Yorkshire, England
9 August 2002

Like many remakes (Dr Who springs to mind!) this is a VERY poor American imitation of the excellent British series. Robert Pastorelli's version of Robbie Coltrane's character "Fitz" lacks the subtlety and the lovable character weaknesses (eg gambling) that Coltrane gave him: Pastorelli's Fitz is just too perfect. The whole series lacks the magic of the British one. Verdict: 1/10 for trying (but failing!).

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Hardly worth the effort if you've seen the original...

Author: rdean-6 from Los Angeles
17 September 2004

Like others, I'm spoiled by watching the brilliant original. This movie is a near line-by-line re-creation of a Cracker episode. But it is done without the scene-setting and great asides from the original. Interstingly, they took some lines Fitz says to Judith at the end of the original and has him say them to Nina.

The sexual tension between Fitz and the Panhandle character is absent and awkwardly comes into play at the end.

Might be worth seeing for an early Makiska Hargatay police work. Or Josh Hartnell. Both don't show up in the IMDb credits.

Still, pretty much a waste of time if you've seen the original. The Fitz character lacks the believability of Robbie Coltrane.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Poor Plagiarism

Author: Carsten Witte from Laboe, Germany
22 December 1999

This is what you get when you try to redo an extremely good miniseries without the great actors of the original. Where the british Cracker has everything to watch each episode twice, the US version has everything to turn it off after five minutes. Maybe if one starts with this version it could be considered a good series, but knowing the original, it only hurts. That beg the question: why have they done it after all? Why not broadcast the original?

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Why bother?

Author: Jackie Meyers from United States
28 November 2005

Robert Pastorelli tried. The problem with this Americanized version of a great British series was the story lines didn't translate well. The story lines are so British. They would have been better off taking the characters and writing completely new scripts. It might have worked better if the series took place in New York. The LA area just didn't seem to fit with the dark feel of the show, all that sunshine just didn't work. I watched all of the episodes, waiting for an original storyline, never happened.

It was an admirable effort to bring a good show to American television. But poorly executed.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Terrible! But don't blame the actors.

Author: Stephen Bailey (diana@bailey6770.fsnet.co.uk) from Lincoln England
23 January 2004

I was a big fan of the original "Cracker" & this americanised version simply doesn't work. The actors all put in good performances, but they can only work with what writers give them, and, therein lie the problems. Strangely, I find myself blaming Jimmy McGovern. He is an EXCELLENT writer & most of us brits still remember Robert Carlyle's electrifying performance as the psychotic 'Albie'. Let's face it, McGovern helped make him a star. However, that was writing for the British market - and Jimmy is British. This dire attempt at success in the US is about as convincing as my new York accent. I can only think of one reason for watching "Fitz" and that is; just imagine Robbie Coltrane playing Robert Pastorelli playing Fitz? Now that WOULD be hilarious.

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

It got a bad rap, but this was a good TV show.

Author: Gary Dickerson (gary@selfhelpradio.net) from Lexington, KY
13 April 1999

People were extremely unkind to this American remake of the brilliant British crime drama "Cracker." Yes, the British version was superior; but I often felt that the American version didn't get the credit it deserved. It wasn't supposed to be a direct copy, it was supposed to be a distinctly American version, as "All In The Family" or "Three's Company" were. I would have liked to watch it develop. My theory is that the main problem people had was with the American Fitz - Robbie Coltrane is so flawed, but his egotism is tempered by a humor and humility that Robert Pastorelli didn't really possess. Nonetheless, I refuse to trash this show like everyone else and heartily recommend it, should you find it somewhere - it didn't last very long. And whether you find it or not, do go watch the British "Cracker" series. It's magnificent.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Objectively, Not Anywhere As Bad As So Many Have Claimed

Author: jpmarmaro-2 from Florida
6 April 2006

True, this is not Robbie Coltrane. True, the series is darker and at the same time less complex than the magnificent British series. But just because a California vintage varietal is not Château Latour does not mean it isn't potable. Taken on its on merits, without making comparisons to the original British series (in which the American series really has no chance to shine) this is a well-made and far-from-clichéd series. Playing Fitz as Pastorelli did-- as less-than-lovable, curmudgeonly without the usual saving graces of humor or humility, was actually very brave, and much truer to everyday life, truth to tell, than Coltrane's wonderful portrayal. Coltrane's characterization is in a way bigger than life, a flawed yet dazzling (and also, endearing) genius: very much in the tradition of other flawed, brilliant, larger-than-life sleuths from Sherlock Holmes to Hercule Poirot. I find Pastorelli's interpretation more in the line of, say, John Thaw's Inspector Morse (they even have similar tastes in music). Pastorelli plays Fitz as depressive, grouchy, arrogant, flippant, self-absorbed, and sometimes downright rude. That is truly going out on a limb, and would be even for British television, but for American television it is valor of the first water. So it is unfair to compare his portrayal with Coltrane's: they approach the character quite differently. Taken on their own, I think the Pastorelli episodes are fine productions. Being an American myself I was raised on happy endings and characters designed to elicit one's emotional engagement. Yet as others have rightly noted, life isn't like that. I remember an episode of a British production, one of Roy Mardsen's wonderful Adam Dalgleish tales, which ended, yes, with the criminal's apprehension-- but NOT happily (his assistant's grandmother, being held hostage, having been killed at the end when SWAT teams stormed the hideout)... and I was appalled at first--- but then I realized, that that was as possible an outcome as the happy ending would have been, perhaps more likely even. And this series has a lot of that flavor to it. So: approaching this and expecting the same thing as one got in the British production is really counterproductive. But if you watch these shows without expectations, you'll likely find them quite satisfying on their own merits.

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