Ally Walker takes on the Clarice Starling-like role of Samantha Waters in Profiler, a series I had not watched beyond the pilot when it originally aired on NBC, but one I was happy to catch up with now that the first season is available on DVD.
It's interesting to look back and see how much Profiler is like the current hit show C.S.I., and while I personally believe C.S.I is a much more well-rounded show than Profiler ever was, it's obvious that CBS' current hit owes a lot to the Profiler series.
The premise of the show is pretty simple: Sam Waters is an FBI profiler, who solves cases by putting herself in the mind of the killer. There are fans out there who will argue that Sam is psychic, but I didn't really get that impression as a viewer. It's more a case of her examining the evidence and picturing in her mind how the crimes took place. Her mentor at the FBI is Bailey Malone (Robert Davi), her supervisor and the man who taught her everything she knows about profiling. He's basically the Jack Crawford to her Clarice Starling.
Of course, no show that owes so much to Silence of the Lambs would be complete without its own Hannibal Lecter, and here it's a serial killer know as "Jack of All Trades", who actually murdered Sam's husband and continues to play mind games with her in every episode. We never see Jack's face, although I believe the same actor plays him in every episode and I know future seasons actually do reveal who he is.
Although Ally Walker is the star of the show, the most interesting character is by far Davi's, who – playing one of his first "good guy" roles ever in his career – struggles during the second half of Season One to better understand his daughter, whom he has not had a lot of contact with due to the fact that he is divorced from her mother.
I think part of the reason Profiler did not have a more successful run (although it did last four seasons – hopefully all of which will see a DVD release) is because the supporting cast isn't that strong. Even after watching the 21-episodes here, I couldn't tell you all that much about the other regulars, other than the fact that they support the FBI team in one way or another.
The first important thing to point out about this nicely packaged (each of the six discs comes inside its own plastic case, which all slide into a nice cardboard slipcase) set is that there is an episode missing. The episode is entitled "I'll Be Watching You" and it was the fourth episode of Season One. It took a bit of research on the Net, but apparently the reason this show did not make the box set was because of the use of a Sting song (I'm guessing "Every Breath You Take") that was far too expensive to gain the rights to for DVD release. While it's sad to note that this set is somewhat incomplete, most of the episodes (despite the ongoing storyline concerning Jack of All Trades) are pretty much stand-alone, so it doesn't feel like there's any missing character development when watching the episodes the way they are presented here.
Presented in the full-frame format (the way it originally aired), the video transfer here is quite good. The series has a look to it quite similar to The X-Files and Millennium (which premiered the same season Profiler did), with washed-out color and a "dark" look to each episode.
Although only presented in a 2.0 Dolby track, the audio here is remarkably good and sounds great. In fact, this is one of the best 2.0 tracks for a TV series that I have heard in a while, with crisp and clear sounds that almost make you think it's a 5.1 track.
Sadly, there's not a lot here in the way of extras, although fans should certainly enjoy the Audio Commentaries for the pilot episode by both Ally Walker and Robert Davi. Although the listing on the box may lead you to think otherwise, these are actually two separate commentary tracks – one with Ally and one with Robert. Both are quite entertaining and interesting, although Davi's is the better of the two. Davi doesn't pull any punches talking about the series, pointing out where he though it went wrong and discussing the tension and arguments between Ally and himself on the set.
The other extras on this box set all appear on disc six and include Cast Biographies for the regulars of the series; a far too small Photo Gallery (only about a dozen pictures); and an interesting episode of A&E's American Justice in which we learn how the FBI first developed profiling and some cases in which it was first used (this program runs about 45 minutes).
THE BOTTOM LINE
Profiler is good enough to warrant a rental, but this is the kind of series where you'll watch an episode, be thoroughly entertained while watching it, but have no desire to see it a second time. In other words, while these shows are above-average, the replayability factor for this box set isn't very high.
But if you're a fan of the program, you should be mostly happy with this DVD set, whose biggest flaws are the lack of a few more extras and that missing episode. Overall though, I enjoyed watching Profiler and will be looking forward to watching Season Two when (hopefully) it comes to the DVD format.