Detective Aiden Black (David Sutcliffe, Under the Tuscan Sun) is a former SWAT team member assigned to the newly formed Psych Crimes & Crisis Unit, after he is involved in two shootings in the line of duty. Psychiatrist Daniella Ridley (Stefanie von Pfetten, Percy Jackson and the Olympians), is his new partner, and babysitter, asked to keep an eye on the increasingly unstable detective. While dealing with the more disturbing criminal cases the city has to offer, Aiden battles his own demons as the memories of the shootings begin to effect his mental state.
Cracked: What Lies Beneath is a Canadian police procedural that focuses on a 4-man team of the newly formed Psych Crimes and Crisis Unit. In addition to Detective Black, and Dr. Ridley, are psychiatric nurse Leo Beckett (Dayo Ade), and police detective Poppy Wisnefski (Luisa D’Oliveira, 50/50).
Let me tell you, I am a lover of police procedurals. You will find me in front of my television watching CSI, SVU, NCIS, LMNOP, and any other alphabet titled police show where justice is served regularly. The series can be cerebral, action packed, domestic, or foreign -as long as it’s interesting. Unfortunately Cracked: What lies beneath fits only one of the above criteria –and being a foreign import, isn’t enough to get my recommendation.
Problem #1 – Detective Black and Dr. Ridley have virtually no chemistry. I’m not talking about sexual chemistry; I mean just the normal every day, ‘Hey we work together’ chemistry. They have two very different styles, of course, but that should be a plus, not a negative. Here that only highlights how woefully cast the two are together. Sutcliffe is a little stiff and bland as Detective Black, and his portrayal of this cop on the edge is never convincing. Include the ridiculous notion that a police department would be so reckless that they would partner a psychiatrist, with no actual police experience, in the field alongside a detective who may or may not be a little looney tunes himself; this seems like a bit of a stretch. On top of all that, Dr. Ridley doesn’t carry a gun, and believes that just with the power of her words, she can convince some mentally unstable person, in the height of their manic behavior mind you, to ‘kindly put down the knife please and come along peacefully.’ By themselves, these points may not be such a huge deal, but collectively they cause far too many fractures in the show’s foundation.
Problem # 2 – This is supposed to be a 4 man team, but Nurse Leo and Detective Poppy could be replaced by two mannequins and it would hardly be noticed. This isn’t a knock on their acting, in fact they are quite good, only if their talents were actually utilized. Their assistance to the group usually consists of miraculous internet searches –because I guess they’re computer experts as well- that come up with an amazing amount of info that they merely pass along to Aiden and Daniella. On occasion they get to go out in the field, but just like Dr. Ridley, Leo has no experience, and no weapon to defend himself in the most harrowing of situations.
Problem #3 – The episodes themselves. The stories sometimes start like gangbusters, than fizzle about half way through; often lobbing up softball endings that aren’t merely anticlimactic, but feel incomplete. For instance in the episode titled “No Traveller Returns,” a man named Mandar Kush killed someone 11 years before by stabbing him 23 times, then eating his heart. I know, sounds cool right? Then there’s the tension of him possibly getting out on parole, along with the mystery of whether or not he’s really cured, or how his family will react to him being home again. Include the fact that those who might recommend Kush be released, are being targeted for death. I’m thinking, ‘Finally, an episode that’s got some teeth.’ But it merely limps the rest of the way to the end, in a ho-hum conclusion that wastes all of the tension that it worked to build up in the first half.
Finally, Problem #4 – Aiden and Daniella are dealing with people who aren’t mentally incapable of determining right from wrong; their goal is to get them the help they need, hopefully without any harm coming to them. However, the only recourse they seem to have to handle these delicate situations are Daniella’s magic words, or Aiden’s gun. It makes no sense to have such a unit, and not provide them with non-lethal weapons to help them subdue these individuals so they don’t hurt themselves or others. In the episode “Fallen,” a man is on his front porch with a host of sharp weapons, babbling about Michael the Archangel and the end of the world. After finding out that this man has a son inside who may be hurt, Aiden has two choices; shoot him, or risk personal injury to himself. If they had a gun that shot bean bags, or a taser, Aiden could’ve brought this poor soul down without killing him, therefore getting inside much more quickly to aid the son.
The BBC Video release of Cracked: What Lies Beneath is a 1.78:1 widescreen presentation, with crisp views of the beautiful city of Toronto. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is just fine, the best aspect of it is you can clearly hear the fantastic theme song for Cracked called “Weighty Ghost,” by the Canadian Indy Rock band Wintersleep -and really, this is the best thing about the entire series. The 2-disc DVD set, contains only 7 of the 13 episodes from Season 1, and no extras to speak of.
Cracked: What Lies Beneath isn’t horrible, but it does commit the unforgivable sin of being bland and forgettable. And in a climate littered with police procedurals, that just won’t cut it.
All the Mounties say –Guilty!
Cracked: What Lies Beneath (DVD) 2015, Fox, 293 minutes, NR (2015)
VIDEO: 1.78:1 AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
SUBTITLES: None EXTRAS: None ACCOMPLICES: IMDB