Reviewed by David Williams (July
Profiler introduces us to Dr. Samantha Waters (Ally Walker), a female forensic psychologist with a very powerful and unique gift that allows her to see past the physical evidence and get a glimpse into the mind of the criminal, as well as the victim and visualize the crime in a way not many others can. Once on the fast track, she was thrown into a self-imposed exile when a serial killer, “Jack of all Trades”, murdered her husband three years prior. She and her young daughter, Chloe (Caitlin Wachs), decided to live an anonymous life in the country with her close friend, Angel Brown (Erica Gimpel). However, as we learn in the pilot for the show, Sam is coaxed out of her seclusion by old friend Bailey Malone (Robert Davi), head of the FBI Investigative Support Unit, when he asks for her help and expertise while working on a serial murder case in Atlanta.
Sam eventually joins up with a team of investigative professionals based in Atlanta, Georgia – the Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF). However, “Jack of all Trades” pops back up and lets her know that he’s resumed his killing spree. Sam’s connection with “Jack” gives her a dark edge and a sense of purpose as she continues to hunt him down, while at the same time, working on other high-profile cases involving arsonists, assassins, bombers, and other scum-of-the-earth perpetrators.
Sam and Malone are aided by a crack team of specialists that includes Detective John Grant (Julian McMahon), a by-the-book professional who is uneasy with Sam's unusual and unorthodox methods; Detective Nathan Brubaker (Michael Whaley), a philanthropic ex-attorney; Grace Alvarez (Roma Maffia), a very talented forensic specialist; and George Findley (Peter Frechette), the token computer hacker of the team.
With the runaway success of shows like CSI and CSI: Miami, it’s nice to revisit the Profiler after a rather lengthy hiatus (for me anyway). The show deals in many of the same concepts and principles as CSI, but overall, it lacks the panache and intensity that CSI brings to the small screen. That being said, Profiler is still a great show when digested as a whole. Admittedly, there are the occasional “slow” episodes that aren’t quite as solid as some of the more interesting cases that Walker and company tackle from week to week, but those are few and very far between. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the best way I can describe Profiler is that it’s CSI meets The X-Files … and while the results aren’t consistently spectacular, more often than not, it’s a great way to blow an hour in front of the tube. Now on to the DVD set from A&E/NBC …
As has become the industry’s practice of late, the six discs come individually packaged in slim, plastic cases surrounded by a sturdy, cardboard slipcase. The first season of the show contained 22 episodes, but only 21 are included in the set, as Episode 1x04, “I’ll Be Watching You”, is missing. It seems that The Police wanted a bit too much money for the use if their song, “Every Breath You Take”, and NBC/A&E decided that they would leave the episode out, rather than pay huge royalties for use of the song. Granted, it sucks that the set isn’t truly complete, but it’s a small price to pay to have 21/22 of The Profiler out on DVD.
- Disc One -
Insight (Original Air Date: September 21, 1996): We are introduced to Dr. Samantha Waters (Ally Walker), a brilliant forensic psychologist with a unique gift for understanding the criminal mind and visualizing the crime through the eyes of the criminal, as well as the victim. Her impressive work got her a lot of attention and “Jack”, a serial killer, murdered her husband three years earlier simply because he admired her work so much. Devastated, Samantha pulled away from work and went into a self-imposed seclusion along with her young daughter, Chloe (Caitlin Wachs). However, her old friend, Bailey Malone (Robert Davi), convinces her to come out of her semi-retirement when a serial killer starts preying on single women in the Atlanta, Georgia area.
Ring of Fire (Original Air Date: September 28, 1996): Sam joins the newly formed Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF), led by her friend Malone, and one of their first cases is investigating a string of fires in the St. Louis, Atlanta, and Nashville area(s). While working on the cases, it gives “Jack of all Trades” (Dennis Christopher) some clues on her whereabouts and he pays a visit to her home. As a result, Sam and Chloe move in with a good friend, Angel (Eric Gimpel), while she works on profiling the arsonist who’s setting the fires.
Unholy Alliance (Original Air Date: October 19, 1996): Sam investigates a bizarre murder that closely resembles one that happened 10-years prior. However, the killer (Benjamin Mouton) is still in jail and couldn’t have committed the new crime. The evidence points Sam to a shadowy military officer (Carmen Argenziano) who seems to be protecting the real killer (Ian Patrick Williams).
Missing Episode - I’ll Be Watching You (Original Air Date: October 26, 1996): A celebrated senator (Casey Biggs) has been targeted by a twisted assassin (Jason Rainwater) and Sam and the VCTF have been assigned the case. However, Sam becomes distracted by new evidence that could locate the man who murdered her husband, the “Jack of all Trades”.
- Disc Two -
Unsoiled Sovereignty (Original Air Date: November 2, 1996): Sam and the VCTF investigate a series of power plant and refinery bombings. While on the case, Sam and an ATF bomb expert, Cooper (A Martinez), hit it off while tracking down the disturbed and deranged bomber (Ron LaBelle) who has a “thing” for cleanliness.
Modus Operandi (Original Air Date: November 9, 1996): “Jack of all Trades” murders a neighborhood fix-it man (Don Keefer) with ties to Sam. Sam sees a pattern in “Jack’s” killings and realizes that he’s leaving her messages via his murders. It seems “Jack” is murdering anyone with connections to Sam - or her past - and Nick Cooper (A Martinez) is next on his twisted list.
Night Dreams (Original Air Date: November 16, 1996): A serial kidnapper (Stephen Lee) takes Atlanta by storm and abducts seemingly unconnected women. Sam puts the clues from the crime scenes together - and interviews a stripper (Debi A. Monahan) who survived an attempted kidnapping – and realizes that the team only has hours before the recently kidnapped women are going to be executed.
Cruel and Unusual (Original Air Date: December 14, 1996): Sam and the team investigate a series of murders where the victims are all linked to a death row inmate (Gary Stretch) scheduled to die within days. An obsessed protestor (Kim Darby) who leads candlelight vigils outside of the prison becomes the prime suspect. “Jack” decides to select his next victim from the VCTF team.
- Disc Three -
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Original Air Date: January 4, 1997): The group investigates a series of ritualistic murders on Indian reservations that are being blamed on a 1000-year-old spirit. Sam tries to narrow down the list of real suspects by meeting by a tribal wise man (Russell Means). Back in the city, “Jack” breaks into Malone’s apartment and steals his FBI identification.
Shattered Silence (Original Air Date: January 11, 1997): A noted surgeon (Scott Koes) is kidnapped two years after his friend (Buddy Farmer), also a physician, came up missing. The evidence leads Sam to believe that the kidnapper may be a desperate patient. Malone finds himself attracted to one of the missing men’s wives (Patricia Charbonneau).
Doppelganger (Original Air Date: January 18, 1997): Once again, the MO of a recent murder – this time, at a home for the criminally insane - resembles that of a serial killer (Edward Albert) Sam sent to the home years before. Sam doesn’t feel that her former adversary did the deed, but when another murder takes place – and Sam’s man escapes – the real killer is anyone’s guess.
Learning from the Masters (Original Air Date: February 1, 1997): When murder victims are “posed” to replicate famous works of art, Sam gets too close to the suspect and finds herself as his next magnum opus. Meanwhile, Malone finds that “Jack of all Trades” has hacked into the VCTF’s computer system.
- Disc Four -
The House That Jack Built (Original Air Date: February 8, 1997): Since “Jack of all Trades” has been constantly messing with members of the VCTF, Malone and other members of the team try to figure out how to lure “Jack” out in to the open. Sam and Agent John Grant (Julian McMahon) concoct a brilliant scheme that leads them to “Jack’s” lair.
Shadow of Angels – Parts I and II (February 15, 1997): Just as the team closes in on “Jack’s” lair, they are sent off on a tangent to investigate an odd murder where the victim is buried alive under thousands of pounds of silver coins. This murder is simply the preamble to a series of peculiar and eccentric murders that lead to a wealthy and powerful man - Charles Vanderhorn (James Coburn). A new member joins the team, Nick Cooper (A Martinez), and the group tightens the noose around “Jack of all Trades”.
Film At 11 (Original Air Date: March 8, 1997): In New York, a vigilante killer (Ron Kuhlman) is exacting justice on criminals who have beaten the rap. He tapes his escapades and sends the tapes to local TV newsrooms for broadcast. A young woman (Sherri Howard) is kidnapped and all clues lead to some former law students.
- Disc Five -
Crisis (Original Air Date: March 22, 1997): A deranged nuclear scientist (Robert Sampson) working with terrorists storms a banquet hall and takes a room full of Washington insiders hostage. The group swears they will kill the hostages unless the President meets their unrealisitc demands. When Monroe and the VCTF corner the terrorists, Sam is asked to profile the scientist and bring about a peaceful resolution.
Blue Highway (Original Air Date: April 5, 1997): In the Midwest, a series of fatal hit-and-run accidents are taking place on remote highways. Sam and certain members of the VCTF are sent in to investigate and the clues lead them to a trucker (Jim Wilky) who is reliving a traumatic event from his childhood.
FTX: Field Training Exercise (Original Air Date: April 12, 1997): The FBI thinks that the VCTF has a mole and in order to smoke him/her out, they abruptly order the group into a mock field training exercise. Bailey is fingered as the prime mole suspect, but he learns a little too late that one of the agents (Michael Gaston), has personal issues with him. When a senior investigator (Jack Conley) is found dead at the command center, Sam attempts to form a profile to catch the killer.
- Disc Six -
Into The Abyss (Original Air Date: April 26, 1997): The VCTF is sent in to investigate a series of murders where the victims have ghoulish smiles carved into their faces and the bodies are shrouded in lace. The trail of clues leads to a reclusive psychic (Leland Crooke) who has helped police in the past, but his former cooperative efforts have taken a toll on him emotionally.
Venom – Parts I and II (Original Air Date: May 10, 1997): Sam and the team investigate a diabolical murderer (Lori Petty) who uses a variety of poisonous means to kill her victims and she taunts the VCTF by leaving clues about her next murder/victim. In an unlikely turn of events, “Jack of all Trades” agrees to help out the team track down the murderer.