This remake of the British series (also worth a look) was doomed from the get-go, pitted against "Seinfeld" Thursdays at 9:00. On another night, maybe even another network, this show could have thrived. The late Robert Pastorelli gives the best performance of his (tragically) short career as Fitz. He's a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, womanizing SOB who's a failure at just about everything except getting inside the criminal mind and solving brutal murders. Meanwhile, on the homefront, his life is a wreck, and he tries to keep his family together.
The production design was strong, with grim, dark murders occuring under the bright sun and lights of LA. Supporting Pastorelli was a strong cast including "Full Metal Jacket" drill sargeant R. Lee Ermey, Carolyn McCormick and a young Josh Hartnett. Future stars such as Josh Lucas, Peter Saarsgard and Sarah Paulson turned up over the course of the series as well. The mysteries were well plotted, and the interrogation scenes where Fitz "cracked" the case were dazzling. Of course, the storylines were grim and dark, but no more so than a typical "CSI" episode today. Maybe it was because the crimes happened in everyday locations - "Cracker" was a very real series, and it brought crime close to home. If anything, it is similar to "Millennium," a dark, engrossing show but one that could not be watched in a marathon session. Too much "Cracker" will mess with your head. Too say that it has a bleak outlook is an understatement!
Several shows were based on British episodes, but some strong original stories also came out of this show (a stand-out is "Hell Hath No Fury"). It was not afraid to end stories on a sad note, and it challenged you every week with a protagonist who was easier to hate than love. (Foreshadowing Dr. Greg House, Alan Shore, and a number of snarky prime-time heroes.) Major character shifts and developments were occuring as the show was cancelled, so it would have been interesting to see where it was going. Thankfully, we have the complete run on DVD, so it can be re-discovered.