Profiler: Season 1
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 1050 minutes
Starring: Ally Walker, Robert Davi, Julian McMahon, Erica Gimpel, Michael Whaley, Roma Maffia, Peter Frechete and Cailtin Wachs
Retail Price: $99.95
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Stereo, Scene Access (8 scenes per episode), Six-Disc Set
Released: July 29th, 2003
Dr. Samantha Waters (Ally Walker) is an intelligent forsenic psychologist who has a unique sixth sense to understand the minds of crinimals. Sam has the powers to visualize crimes through the perspectives of the victims and tormentors. However, when her husband was murdered by the serial killer Jack of All Trades, Samantha gave up her life and moved with her young daughter Chloe (Caitlin Wahcs) to live secretly in the countryside. But three years after the murder of her husband, Sam is lured back thanks to Bailey Malone (Robert Davi), head of the FBI Investigative Support Unit. Malone has a unique assignment for her, and soon enough, this leads to more cases to crack, usually with help from the Violent Crime Task Force (VCTF).
Even though it was never a giant show on NBC that anchored the network, "Profiler" did capture its fair share of an audience. The show generally received good reviews and some of you may be surprised to learn that the show lasted several seasons on the air. I believe the show aired on Saturday nights (along with another cult-like show I believe, that being "The Pretender") and scored generally good ratings (even though not many people are home on Saturday nights as compared to weekday nights - makes you wonder why "Freaks & Geeks" never survived), however, a few years after the series debuted it could no longer keep afloat and was cancelled somewhat abruptly, a move that definitely made the show's loyal fans something to be bitter about.
I have to say "Profiler" is a very well done show, pretty much to the point where it can become addicting. It's very easy to compare the show as a unique combination to some of network television's dramatic favorites, but it shouldn't. I'm sure some will have to point out there are hints of "C.S.I.," "X-Files" and perhaps "Law and Order" in it, but the series is pretty different in nature. What I always loved and appreciated about "Profiler" is how sharp and even-handed it was.
The show's writing and style was of top quality, with interesting premises, strong stories and whip-snap dialogue. Even though the show could be far-fetched, it always felt "real" and had a down to earth feeling. Created by Cynthia Saunders, "Profiler" was a show that never overdid things and had a clear direction of where it was headed. While it's easy to be sucked into the weekly cases that Sam and VCTF tackled, cases which drove weekly episodes, I certainly appreciated that "Profiler" was never just about the cases. The series featured a lot of strong ideas and character development behind it. If you've seen the show enough times, you really do end up caring for Sam and her integral relationships. Like any good protagonist, Sam is haunted by her tragic past. It's even more hurtful in that her husband's murder is still pretty fresh in her mind and that she has a young daughter to raise (a relationship that was handled very well). You do become attached to the characters, which is a sign of a good show. I found myself always wanting to know more about Sam and the supporting cast, and the show handled histories and developing their personas quite well. The more character-driven things greatly enhanced the show and helped bring out a warmer side to what many thought (and still think) was a cold series given its darker content. Also, the sporadic light humor never hurt things even if it was always overshadowed by some scary elements.
There was also Sam's power that separated her from everyone else and give the show a more detailed premise. It could be labeled under science-fiction I suppose, but I never really put the show in that genre. Still, Sam's power helped the show be less generic and it was a pretty creative idea that suspended the show further than what many suspected it to be. Good shows need strong premises behind them to make them work, and that's what "Profiler" had. Thankfully, it never abused its premise and made strong use of it, but not so much where everything else was in the background.
Despite all this, I must mention "Profiler"'s players who took it all to the next level. Ally Walker was a great choice to play Samantha. She's strinkingly beautiful but you really sense a lot of strength behind her. Still, with that strength comes vulnerbility and her own responsibilities. Caitlin Wachs as Sam's daughter Chloe is also an attention grabber - she's a cute kid who acts very well without being annoying. The actors who portray the VCTF do a nice job and play off of Walker well, but I've always enjoyed Robert Davi in the series. Davi's effective portrayl of Bailey Malone was slightly underplayed, but he played it nicely with just the right amount of timing and force to make him a good confidant and likeable guy.
If there's any downside to this DVD set of this pretty remarkable first season, it's that it is missing the fourth episode of the series "I'll Be Missing You." Apparently expensive music rights for The Police hit "Every Breath You Take" held that show from being included. Things like that happen sometimes, and while it seems there are no current plans to get that episode on DVD, kudos for A&E for still releasing the rest of the first season instead of holding out. With that said, if you're a big fan of the series then you should be very pleased to have the show on DVD. If you've never seen the show, or even heard of it, then do check it out if you like dramatic mysteries - "Profiler" is a very strong show that is thoughtful, interesting, exciting and smart. Being with Dr. Sam Waters is well worth your time.
These shows are several years old and while the 1.33:1 full screen transfers are not perfect, they are rather strong. The transfers for the most part are a bit grainy, which can become distracting. Still, at times, the transfer can be pretty sharp. Also, the show's contrast is up a bit too much. As a result, there is a lot of noise that can be spotted. Detail, flesh tones and black levels are generally good, as is the color saturation that are finely tuned and stand out, but sometimes the color can be a bit off-kilter. Nonetheless, the transfer capture the show's dark atmosphere well.
The only thing you'll find on the episodes are stereo tracks in English. I must say these tracks exceeded my expectations. It's true the tracks have their limits, but what they bring across is rather strong - even stronger than some Dolby Surround tracks I've heard on other TV shows. Fidelity is surprisingly high on the tracks and the dialogue is very clear. However, what makes the tracks so impressive are the powerful musical cues that at times feel quite surrounding and how discrete the sound effects are. The more gruesome and violent sound effects certainly hold their own, but a bustling of other surrounds really do have power. Phones ringing, screams, police sirens, crowds and plenty of more (I certainly mean that). The sound effects certainly are the life of these very impressive stereo tracks, but all the elements are without fault too. On a different note though, there are no alternate sound tracks, closed captioning or any subtitle streams of any kind.
It's not as jammed pack as other TV on DVD sets, but A&E has definitely put together a cool little package for fans of the show that does the job. First up on disc one, you get two Audio Commentaries for the pilot episode "Insight." Ally Walker contributes her comments as does Robert Davi. If you're a fan of the series, each track is definitely worth a listen and it's really quite welcome to hear each of the actor's perspectives on the show. Both actors are quite candid - Walker admits that she didn't think the pilot would be picked up. Walker also talks about the style of the series, offers praise for those she worked with and a lot of general thoughts on the series. I firmly agree with Walker on the character of Samantha in how she really is a strong woman, and is not trying to inhabit a typical male persona of being tough. Davi meanwhile seems very proud of the show and points out all the shows these days that ripped them off (damn straight!). Davi also seems disappointed about the show's early cancellation, but much of his track focuses on what he thinks made the show so great and why it worked so well. Davi also touches upon location shooting, casting and a variety of things, though he sometimes has awkward pauses. Each track offers some very interesting production anecdotes, though at times Walker's and Davi's comments tend to interlap (still, it's a good thing they didn't edit these tracks together) and they're not always screen-specific. Hopefully future seasons on DVD will have more commentaries with these actors, other actores and the production staff - I'd love to hear from Saunders, writers and directors. Oh, and on more episodes too.
The sixth disc of the set contains the rest of the extras. The other main extra to note in what was an hour long special on the A&E network, Profiles Of Evil: Inside the Criminal Mind. This is an episode from their "American Justice" series that aired in 1997 and if you're interested in the concept of profiling, than this special is right up your alley. Using a variety of stills, stock footage and interviews with real-life professionals, you'll get a strong sense of real-life profiling. Some of the imagery is a bit graphic, but it seems pretty clear to me that Cynthia Saunders was inspired by some of the stories covered in this special. In all, it is a very interesting watch but is not for everyone. The crimes covered in here can be pretty depressing and scary, but the show does a good job of tracking the history behind them and the joys profilers have. Nonetheless, it's a nice supplement to what is behind "Profiler."
Rounding out the extras are well-written Cast Biographies (I learned that Ally Walker shares the same birthday as me - nice!) and a Photo Gallery that's nice to look at but quite short (and it's only filled with publicity shots).
"Profiler" does have its fans, and I think during its run it was a pretty underrated show that more people should have cared about. The bottom line is that this is an entertaining and intriguing show that will probably grow on you pretty quickly if you've never seen it. While the lack of the fourth episode is disappointing (but understandable), fans of the show should not hesitate to pick this set up. With slim but good extras, excellent stereo tracks and decent transfers, the set's retail price can be justified.