If you thought "Cracked" would be more than just the average procedural, you're not alone. With David Sutcliffe ("Gilmore Girls") clucking like a chicken in the pilot, I figured the sole significant addition to CBC's winter lineup would be more character-driven and not entirely plot-based.
And, yes, while "Cracked" does have loads of potential, there was next to none of that quirkiness I had envisioned, at least in the first episode. Sadly, it really is like all the other shows out there. Fortunately enough, though, there's nothing like it on CBC.
The Toronto-set drama, which follows down-but-not-out detective Aidan Black (Sutcliffe, "Gilmore Girls") as he is transferred out of an elite task force, starts off decently enough. Over the past year alone, Aidan has had two fatal shootings, which led to inquiries, psych evaluations and post-traumatic stress disorder. Not the best qualities a steady and reliable SWAT guy should have, but Aidan's so valuable to the force that his boss had to find a new place for his skills. So why not create a new unit?
Psych Crimes & Crisis is where Aidan finds himself, a new department that responds to any crime scene or situation involving an emotionally disturbed person. I guess it helps that it takes one to know one, but Sutcliffe insists his character hasn't totally gone off the deep end.
"If he was completely bananas, they'd have to remove him from the job but they've determined he's fit for duty," Sutcliffe says of Aidan, but admits, "I think that's been a bit of a grey area in terms of the development of the character, and something the writers actually struggled with -- just how crazy is Aidan?
"You can't make him so crazy that he's not fit for duty, but the show is about a guy who's got some mental issues," continued Sutcliffe. "All of us deal with it in different ways. For me, I just tried to bring as much of that to Aidan as possible, and get further away from the diagnostic element of his craziness and more of the regular humanity of his mental issues. It's just part of being human, to be a little crazy."
Det. Black's new partner is forensic psychiatrist Dr. Daniella Ridley (Stefanie von Pfetten, "Battlestar Galactica"), and, naturally, the two butt heads. But are they paired up because they're a good match, or is Daniella there to help Aidan, to "shrink" him?
"I don't think she's there to provide therapy for him," believes Sutcliffe. "But it creates some built-in tension there. What are her intentions, is she examining Aidan, analyzing him and his behaviour, and it creates a paranoia in him and a distrust for her. That's part of the dynamic of the show, their relationship." Since Aidan has had a psychotic break, and Daniella's been trained to deal with people like him, their partnership makes for an interesting challenge, particularly when it comes to solving cases.
The two are tasked with solving complex, psychological crimes, which "Cracked" does well. It's the other stuff that leaves me feeling indifferent. There's a lot of one-upping between the two leads, which is understandable, but it also gets old real quick.
We witness Aidan's first day in a new unit, we watch as he and Daniella work their first case, so I've got my fingers crossed that this is just some first episode jitters. I wanted to love "Cracked." I still want to love "Cracked." And don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it -- but I wasn't blown away, either.
Fortunately for "Cracked," CBC excels at gripping dramas ("Republic of Doyle," "Arctic Air"), so I think it's safe to say the broadcaster's latest show can -- and will -- improve.
"Cracked" premieres on CBC at 9 p.m. EST and 9:30 p.m. NT on Tuesday, January 8.
Another "Degrassi" alum, Bulgarian-born actress Nina Dobrev originally played baby mama Mia Jones on the Canadian teen soap. Dobrev also had small roles in some big features like "Away From Her" and "Chloe" before getting her big break on TV with "The Vampire Diaries." As both Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce, Dobrev has broken hearts -- and veins -- on the drama, which has sent her straight to superstardom.
Once known for playing the adorable Pacey Witter on "Dawson's Creek," Joshua Jackson is now on to bigger and better things ... or at least more supernatural ones. The actor now plays Peter Bishop on "Fringe."
It's Chandler Bing! After 10 years playing a funnyman on "Friends," Matthew Perry has appeared on "The Good Wife" and is starring in NBC's "Go On," set to air this fall.
The Shat! The international icon came to prominence as Captain Kirk on "Star Trek," but really, what aspect of pop culture has he not invaded and made his own? As Shatner on the big or small screen, as T.J. Hooker, as Denny Crane, as any number of the characters he's played over the course of a 50-year career, Shatner is really just Shatner. That's not to take away from his distinctive skills, it's just our way of saluting a presence so outsized and ham-tastic that no mere screen, book, convention stage or universe can contain it.
The "Mad Men" newcomer stole the show by singing "Zou Bisou Bisou" in the Season 5 premiere, and throughout the season, her character Megan wielded some significant sexual power over Don Draper. Pare's striking looks and and style turned her into one of the breakout stars of the TV season.
Best known for playing Robin Scherbatsky on "How I Met Your Mother," Cobie Smulders is talented, witty and charming. And the fact that her character was once a Canadian teenage popstar is kind of awesome.
Who would have thought this Oscar-winning actress could transition so smoothly into television? She did, and she's not going anywhere. People love Sookie Stackhouse from "True Blood," even though she's a fairy vampire-lover.
We'll admit it, we enjoyed making fun of Cuthbert's infamous cougar run-in on "24." But the days of her time in the Bauer clan are long past, and Cuthbert has ably reinvented herself as a ditzy comedienne in the addictive ABC comedy "Happy Endings."
Cassie Steele is known to most TV fans as Manny Santos, the adorable junior high-schooler-turned-teen-tramp from "Degrassi: The Next Generation." Steele, whose younger sister Alex also appeared on the series and is back on it a decade later, has broken away from the Canada program and is currently starring on "The L.A. Complex."
She's been a guest star on dozens of Canadian series, including "Being Erica," but Silk made her biggest splash with the addictive supernatural drama "Lost Girl," which now airs on both sides of the border. Her spunky portrayal of the succubus Bo is extremely enjoyable, as is Bo's banter with Kenzi (Ksenia Solo) and her sexy affairs with Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried) and Lauren (Zoie Palmer).
Even non-"Glee" fans love this Canadian cutie. He's sweet, charming and he literally exudes the boy-next-door vibe.
Following in Kristin Kreuk's alliterative footsteps on "Smallville," Durance scored the iconic role of Lois Lane opposite Tom Welling's Clark Kent. She currently appears on "Saving Hope" with Michael Shanks and Daniel Gillies.
From the moment we met Park's character Sharon on "Battlestar Galactica," we knew she was going to be around for a while. Post-"BSG" she was on "The Border" until its cancellation, and currently she's still starring in "Hawaii Five-O."
Best known for playing Lana Lang, Clark Kent's high school sweetheart on "Smallville," and Laurel Yeung on "Edgemont," both filmed in her native Vancouver. Kreuk returns to our screens this fall, starring as Catherine Chandler in the reboot of "Beauty and the Beast," which films in Toronto.
Toronto-born-and-raised McCormack was the calm voice of reason on "Will & Grace," and starting in the fall he'll be helming new show "Perception," where he plays Daniel Pierce, an eccentric neuroscientist who helps solve crimes.
Mandel is currently working alongside Howard Stern and Sharon Osbourne on "America's Got Talent," though don't look for him to be giving his fellow judges high-fives anytime soon. The germaphobe has also been rumored as a possible candidate to replace Regis Philbin as Kelly Ripa's "Live!" co-host.
Frequently referred to as "that hot Canadian actor," Adam Beach has been raking in the female accolades on CBC series "Arctic Air."
Most people know Priestley as the iconic Brandon Walsh from the original "Beverly Hills, 90210." Since then, he's certainly grown up and on -- starring in multiple series including "Haven" and "Medium" -- and is currently the lead on critically-acclaimed Canadian series "Call Me Fitz."
Sandra Oh started her Hollywood career on feature films ranging from "Bean" to "Under the Tuscan Sun" to "Sideways." But she really broke out on the small screen. First, she played Rita Wu on HBO's "Arli$$" and then, she went on to star as Christina Yang on the hit medical drama "Grey's Anatomy." The latter performance has earned her a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and five Emmy nominations.
"Canada's Got Talent" may be finito, but Martin Short is still one of the funniest comedians around. The former "Primetime Glick" star can currently be heard in theaters voicing Stefano in "Madagascar 3" after a multi-episode arc as Marshall's boss on "How I Met Your Mother."
After appearing in a number of family shows such as "Space Cases," "Higher Ground" and "Flash Forward" (not <em>that </em>one), Staite became a genre staple with roles on "Firefly" and "Stargate: Atlantis." She currently stars in "The L.A. Complex," which films in Toronto.
"Stargate" fans will tell you how amazing Tapping is, both onscreen and off. She also grabbed more rabid followers with her 4-year stint on the recently cancelled "Sanctuary." Not to worry, folks, we're sure she has countless roles to come.
Sutherland has been in Hollywood since he was a young buck, and he shows no signs of tiring. As the star of "24," he garnered a major cult following, and his latest venture "Touch" is quite popular. Just wait until that incessantly rumoured "24" movie.
This understated beauty has been carrying "Rookie Blue" for three seasons now (and soon to be four)! It's about time she gets her due.
From "Roseanne" to "Scrubs" to "Cougar Town," and soon to be seen on "How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life," Chalke has been on the TV scene for quite some time.
After stomping the halls of "Degrassi" as a Christian good girl, Grimes moved on to a new area code. The "90210" star has played Annie Wilson for five seasons, and between filming she's contributed to Nylon and Teen Vogue.
She was that amazingly hot Cylon in the red dress on "Battlestar Galactica" -- at first. Helfer soon proved her versatility by playing a variety of Number 6 characters, and after that show ended, she got steady work as a cast member or guest star on everything from "Chuck" to "The Firm." We enjoy seeing her on our screen regularly, and here's hoping she lands in something as good as "BSG" soon.
You probably know his twin brother Shawn from the movie franchise "X-Men," but Aaron has popped up here and there on TV. He played Jimmy Olsen on "Smallville" for several seasons, and has appeared on "Warehouse 13" and "In Plain Sight." Our fave recent role of his, though, was as Nate on "Lost Girl."
Known mostly for her role as Adrianna on "90210" (there are a lot of Canadians in this series, no?), Lowndes' life story is pretty interesting. Discovered originally as a singer in Vancouver when she was 16, she's moved up to star in one of the most popular shows in recent history.
Follow Denette Wilford on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DenetteWilford