Fitz of brilliance

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 by

“Here’s the rules,” said Robbie Coltrane to his fellow cast members, as they readied to face-off a room full of journos following the Cracker screening, “don’t say ‘fuck’ and pretend we like each other”.

Yup, Cracker‘s back, but the question is, is it any good? Years and years ago, Jack had the audacity to rank the existing Cracker canon in order of any-good-ness. So where would 2006′s episode sit? A new entry at number six, I think – nudging in ahead of “Brotherly Love” and just behind “To Be a Somebody”. In parts, it feels like McGovern-by-numbers, but when McGovern hasn’t been able to join the dots for ages, that’s something to be celebrated. 

The main concerns – the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland and Bush’s “War on Terror” – both feel a little tired. In fact, at the post-screening Q&A, producer John Chapman admitted: “When we were making it, we were quite worried that the situation might have disappeared”. The killer of the piece, too, treads familar territory: A loner with a sympathetic grievance (deaths in Northern Ireland being overshadowed by the events of 9/11) who’s on first-name terms with the Samaritans.

But, you know, it’s still great telly. Fitz’s character is nailed utterly from the first appearance, and his relationship with Judith unravels just as it should when he’s back on home soil and sniffing out his old vices again. Performances throughout are fantastic, the plot is engaging (although slightly too hinged on coincidence), but most of all, we get a nice head-to-head scene near the end. 

It’s a Cracker must that our hero ultimately confronts the killer, but because of changing police procedure, we’re told early on that nowadays the psychologist has no access to the suspect once charged. Hence the scene takes place before the authorities know who the murderer is, and in the pleasingly bland environs of what looks like a staff canteen – echoey and unclaustrophobic. This is a new twist for the show.

Final points: Ouch! Nasty logo and titles! Ouch! Fitz, Judith: get young Jimmy a haircut!


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