British sitcoms have traditionally translated well to Americanized versions for the U.S. TV-viewing market. From “All in the Family” to “Men Behaving Badly,” audiences have eaten them up. As of yet a drama based on a British series has never made it to prime time. “Cracker,” a psychological drama set to appear on ABC this fall on Thursdays at 9 p.m., is about to break the mold.
The original popular British series “Cracker,” produced by Granada, has aired on The A&E Network since 1996. In fact, the U.S. pilot is based on the final British episode, “True Romance,” to be aired Sept. 23, about a serial killer who falls in love with the lead crimesolver.
The American show covers the movements of Gerry (Fitz) Fitzgerald, a psychologist whose life is a mess, but who is a crack at solving murders for the L.A.P.D. Robert Pastorelli plays Fitz.
Popular U.K. comedian Robbie Coltrane plays Eddie (Fitz) Fitgerald in the British version, as a psychologist based in Manchester.
Other differences include about 200lbs on the side of Coltrane and a bleakness surpassing Albert Camus on the side of Pastorelli.
The show was developed by Kushner-Locke, who is producing the show in association with Granada Entertainment USA. Emmy award-winning James Sadwith, executive producer and writer on the show, was chiefly responsible for making it American, according to co-chairman Peter Locke.
“What makes the show fascinating is that it is a story about a guy who doesn’t have his own life together, but is extremely sympathetic,” Locke says. “It is the off-center lead that drew us to the show. He’s a wreck of a human being, but he’s a guy who is a psychologist and should understand human nature in order to solve crimes.”
The fact that the show draws a 52 share in the U.K. might have had something to do with Kushner-Locke’s interest as well. Whether “Cracker” will be able to pull in anything close to that remains to be seen — the show will go up against “Seinfeld.”
“I think if we can get an audience for this in the first few weeks, we’ll get them hooked on Pastorelli. They’ll come to love him. It is unusual TV. It is very gritty,” Locke says.