Cracked (2013) DVD Review: “What Lies Beneath” an Incomplete Season Set?

Between having lived in a small redneck/prison/crackhead town year-round, walked on Hollywood Boulevard during the summertime when tourist season is at its height, and flown across the country in coach on Delta Airlines, I am fully aware that there are mentally unbalanced people everywhere. Heck, most of the people that have spent more than three minutes speaking to me have probably concluded I fall into that category myself, but I haven’t quite reached the point of running around in nothing but my underwear shouting about demons. And since I don’t wear any such undergarments, the day I do will surely prove to be a high point in my career. Mind you, I have streaked before while drunk, but that was an entirely different scenario.

And I really don’t need to, either, not with the various guest stars on Canada’s fairly lighthearted (or maybe it really is edgy, but Canada’s version of heavy is our equivalent of light) short-lived psychological police procedural, Cracked – which debuted in 2013 and ran for a season and a half before being axed by its own network due to government budgetary cuts a year later. As if the Canadians were determined to show the world that they could produce television shows just as dramatic as their British cousins and as stylish as those damned Yankees destroying the North American image directly below them, Cracked centers on an Emergency Task Force detective, Aiden Black (that handsome David Sutcliffe devil), who has a few personal demons up his sleeve.

After two fatal shootings that are cleared as justifiable (just like American cops, see?), Det. Black finally starts to worry his superior (Karen LeBlanc) when he begins to cluck at some antsy schmuck in a coffee house one morning. So, it’s off to the newly commissioned Psych Crimes Unit for the loony trigger-happy pig, where he is partnered with a psychiatrist hottie Dr. Daniella Ridley (Stefanie von Pfetten) whom he shares nary a shred of chemistry with, sadly. Yes, he’s that Cracked. Instead, Black obsesses about his ex, another detective (Mayko Nguyen) – albeit with Homicide – while coming to grips with his new position as a guy who is supposed to learning how to not only be sensitive with the crazies, but to get in touch with his inner loco self.

Fortunately for Detective Black and the rest of Psych Crimes Unit, Canada is populated entirely by crazy people (how else do you explain the country letting Kevin Smith in to shoot Tusk?). And Toronto itself has an especially large number of unmedicated freaks on the loose, so Black and Dr. Ridley dart off for one special case after another, while their cute ethnic sidekicks (Dayo Ade and the unbelievably cute Luisa D’Oliveira) are sent off to pursue the lesser important tasks like Shaggy and Scooby-Doo. And really, that’s every episode. At first, it struck me as just another mediocre (Canadian) procedural with a slightly fresh mental angle. Granted, it was better than Murdoch Mysteries, but it just didn’t make the grade in the end.

But the show’s lack of longevity is one of little importance when one sits down to thoroughly examine BBC Video’s presentation of what the box art describes as Cracked: What Lies Beneath in some places (such as the front). Now, as to why they decided to use the name of one of Robert Zemeckis’ worst films as the subtitle for this release is beyond me, but they could hardly advertise this as Cracked: The Complete First Season. Why? Because this two-disc release – for reasons unknown to anyone at this particular point in time – only presents the first seven of 13 episodes produced for the show’s first season. The omission of the second half of the season only grew more puzzling to me when I saw it is available in its entirety on Amazon Instant Video.

So what gives? Well, while I can’t help but wonder if somebody in quality control forgot to take their meds, I can’t shake the dreadful feeling that we’re going to be receiving split seasons (I’m having bad CBS/Paramount flashbacks already) that will ultimately cost more than a complete season set. But hopefully that’s just my own, unmedicated paranoia talking there. In the meantime, this $20 job is all you’re going to get if you want to watch Cracked on DVD. Fortunately, the uncompressed discs present the show in an above average presentation with 5.1 sound and even some English (SDH) subtitles (which could have used a little more proofreading, just so you know).

There are no special features for this release, which could be disappointing to any fans of the show out there. That said, nothing is as big of a letdown as discovering Cracked: What Lies Beneath is only part of a season. It’s a pity, too, as I was just starting to get into the show. Sure, it’s a bit silly, and most of the show’s characters are there just to fill some sort of quota (racial or otherwise), but there’s something ultimately charming about the lighthearted premise and delivery (again, it may truly be an edgy show, just Canadian – it’s hard to say with those hosers). It’s also a darn shame that the show was already canceled, as star David Sutcliffe is really quite good. (I like his co-star Ms. Luisa D’Oliveira, too, but that’s only because I would like her to join me streaking sometime).

In short, you can either pick up half a season on DVD, wait for the second half-season set to come out and buy them together, or rent the whole first season now on Amazon Instant Video. In the meantime, fans may feel free to write BBC Video to ask ’em what sort of motive lies beneath this half-assed release.

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Luigi Bastardo

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