DVD review: “Profiler – Seasons Three and Four” (1996-2000)

Profiler” (1996-2000)

Television Drama

83 Episodes

Created by: Cynthia Saunders

Featuring: Ally Walker, Robert Davi, Julian McMahon, Roma Maffia, Peter Frechette, Erica Gimpel, Caitlin Wachs, Jamie Luner, Dennis Christopher, Michael Whaley, Shiek Mahmoud-Bey, Heather McComband and Traci Lords

John Grant: “We don’t have a lot of time here, Dr. Lawson. So if you’ve got a theory, I want to hear it.”

Dr. Samantha ‘Sam’ Waters: “You want a “theory”? You’ve got Chinese food in the refrigerator, you like your women in heels, your scotch straight, and yourself definitely on top.”

Released this month on DVD are the last two seasons of a mid-nineties television show that may have seemed forgotten especially in this age of peak TV but actually “Profiler” (1996-2000) was an obvious precursor to many of the series we see now especially on network channels that espouse lead characters with dark pasts with a touch of dark violence. It is possibly of no surprise that this show also arrived on screens at roughly the same time as ‘X-Files’ creator Chris Carters shorter lived (and even darker) “Millennium” (1996-2000). 

“Profiler” was an American crime drama that aired on NBC from 1996 to 2000. The series follows the exploits of a criminal profiler working with the fictional FBI Violent Crimes Task Force (VCTF) based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ally Walker starred as profiler Dr. Samantha Waters during the first three seasons (1996–99), and was later replaced by Jamie Luner as prosecutor-turned-profiler Dr. Rachel Burke during the show’s final season. The series also featured the great character actors Robert Davi, Roma Maffia, Peter Frechette, Erica Gimpel and Julian McMahon who played parts that had or would portray very archetypal roles that would be very familiar to audiences that were fans of the serial killer genre.

The series centred around Dr. Samantha “Sam” Waters (Ally Walker) a forensic psychologist working for the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a unique gift to “see” through the eyes of others which gives Sam a special insight into the workings of the criminal mind. While she performs all of her duties diligently, her real motive lies in a both professional and personal tragedy years earlier in which her husband was murdered by a serial killer known only as Jack of All Trades. Sam is part of an elite team of pros led by her mentor, Bailey Malone (Robert Davi), also in support were Detective John Grant (Julian McMahon), computer hacker George Fraley (Peter Frechette), and forensic pathologist Grace Alvarez (Roma Maffia).

Other characters included Michael Whaley playing Nathan Brubaker who appeared throughout season one; a detective who was a former defense attorney. Shiek Mahmoud-Bey played Marcus Payton in season two who was an FBI agent skeptical of Sam’s methods. A Martinez, who had previously worked with Ally Walker on the NBC daytime serial Santa Barbara, appeared occasionally in the first and second seasons playing Nick Cooper, an ATF bomb disposal expert who was Sam Waters love interest, who was later murdered by Jack. Heather McComb appeared frequently in the first and second seasons as Frances Malone, the wayward and rebellious teenage daughter of Bailey Malone. Traci Lords appeared throughout the second season playing a violent ex-convict named Sharon Lesher, who became the serial killer Jill of All Trades after she was recruited by Jack.


Season Three:

Coronation: The day after Jack’s clever escape from the prison, Sam must look into herself in order to find him. Everything seems to point to her childhood which reveals that Jack has apparently stalked her all his life. Then, Jack abducts an infant and tries to lure Sam into finding him.

Cravings: The team investigates a serial rapist-turned-murderer in Illinois, whose sporadic timing of the attacks puzzles Sam as well as the connection between his victims who are left in the woods. Sam figures out that the killer is an angry and frustrated married man taking out his rage and frustration on about-to-be-wed women. Meanwhile, with Donald Lucas, the Jack-of-All-Trades killer, finally captured and imprisoned, Sam searches for a new house for her and Chloe.

Do the Right Thing: Sam and the team try to track down a new serial killer who castrates his victims and seems to be driven by feelings of public duty and legal responsibility. Meanwhile, John gets into trouble through no fault of his own for something that appears in the news about the case. Also, Sam finds herself attracted to Paul Sterling, the district attorney assigned to prosecute Donald Lucas.

Double Vision: Twelve women of a small Alabama town have mysteriously disappeared. When one of the missing is found dead, the VCTF begins an investigation which leads to the discovery of the remaining 11 women buried in a shallow mass grave. Once on scene, Sam is confounded when evidence points to a domineering, controlling pathology, other evidence points to a more passive one. When Bailey pressures her to narrow her profile, Sam’s anxiety builds and she begins to question her own abilities. But it turns out that there are two killers working as a team, each with different profiles. Meanwhile, Samantha tries to get a date with Paul Sterling, with less than successful results.

The Sum of Her Parts: Years of verbal and physical abuse take a deadly toll when its victim lashes out against his abuser. Unable to kill the actual perpetrator, his mother, the deranged man strikes those who remind him of the wretched woman. The team investigates and Sam accurately assesses the killer’s pathology, but mistakenly assumes the man is acting out against his wife, not his mother. When the ages of the victims begins to rise, Sam realizes her error and theorizes that the killer is slowly working up the courage to murder his tormentor. The team then races to find the ill-fated woman before her son can exact his final revenge. B-Story- Sam realizes she and Chloe must begin a new life, and to that end, decides to move into a new home.

The Monster Within: The VCTF is called in to assist in a stalled investigation which revolves around a series of killings in Allentown, Pennsylvania in which the victims faces have been burned off. Sam is leery about interceding for her former boyfriend, Michael Westmore, who’s leading the investigation. Sam and Bailey disagree about Michael’s handling of the case. Whereas Sam feels her friend should be given some slack, Bailey feels the man’s performance sub-par and should not be excused. Forensic evidence shows that the victims’ eyes were the specific target to the killer. Sam uses her intuition and the evidence gathered to theorize the killer did not want to be seen by his victims.

Perfect Helen: Sam and George travel to his Minnesota hometown to investigate when someone is stealing the corpses of young, recently deceased Jewish woman. George and Sam learn that a Neo-Nazi group is active in the town. Though evidence points to the hate group, Sam feels the crimes are motivated by something other than anti-Semitism. This theory take shape when one of the two of the stolen bodies is found undamaged, with minor cosmetic changes made. Sam puts together a profile that characterizes the perpetrator as someone looking to create or re-create his vision of the perfect woman. Eventually, evidence points to a man who is insanely infatuated with a woman who works in his office. When the man kidnaps the object of his affection, Helen Jefferies, Sam fears he will attempt to ‘immortalize’ his vision of perfect beauty for all eternity.

Home for the Homicide: The youngest member of an orphaned clan kills to keep his dysfunctional family together. The first murder occurs when the young man kills the boyfriend his sister is considering marrying. Her marriage would result in her leaving the family and that would be unacceptable. Sam profiles that the killer is someone who has felt loss and who is desperately trying to hold on to something he values. The VCTF eventually discover this decidedly unconventional family and at first, mistakenly believe the physically abusive eldest brother is the killer. Sam soon realizes, however, that there is another, more emotionally immature force at work. Meanwhile, Bailey realizes his ex-wife, Janet, is seriously involved and considering remarriage. Also, Chloe is upset when Sam invites her new boyfriend, Paul, over for Christmas.

All in the Family: Fueled by the abuse they suffered as children, a brother and sister decide to save another child from the same unfortunate fate. To do this, the warped siblings kill the boy’s parents as well as two others to make it look like a mafia hit. The VCTF investigates the mass murder and Sam immediately bonds with the abused boy, Mark. The parents had mob ties, so it is immediately assumed that their murder resulted from their illegal activities. Though skeptical of this scenario, Sam does not dispute it for that would result in Mark being held by the system until the murder is solved. Meanwhile, Sam’s estranged father returns and the two try to heal their strained relationship.

Ceremony of Innocence: One of Sam’s first profiles resulted in a man being sentenced to death. Ten years later when the man is about to be executed, murders begin happening that match the m.o. of the prior killings. Ballistics evidence proves the same gun was used for all the crimes. Sam, feeling culpable for what might have been a deadly mistake, reopens the investigation. Evidence leads to a lowly bicycle courier who is mortally wounded when he resists arrest. Once the dying man is in custody, the death row inmate is released from prison. Though a wrong seem to have been righted, Sam still feels something is amiss.

Where or When: A serial killer who kills with his bare hands leaves the bodies of his male victims at the Brown Derby, the Trocadero, and other Hollywood landmarks. Sam profiles the killer as someone trying to rectify some trauma he experienced in his past. The team follows a trail of clues that eventually leads them to a rather ordinary cab driver who does not seem to have the strength necessary to commit the crimes. A search of the man’s apartment yields evidence however, that matches Sam’s profile to the letter. Sam soon realizes the man suffers from multiple personality disorder. Meanwhile, the imprisoned Donald Lucas continues to taunt Sam while George meets with Bailey where they discover that Sam’s father, a scientist, participated in experiments that had deadly consequences.

Inheritance: People who seem to have nothing in common are being killed in the Southeast USA. Grace’s autopsies find that all the victims has the same rare blood type. The team uncovers evidence that confirms all the victims were the children of Chris James Allmon, a Charles Manson-like cult leader currently incarcerated in a Georgia psychiatric facility. Sam interviews the adoptive parent of one of the remaining children and quickly surmises their son, Toby Watson, is the killer. She theorizes that he is killing his siblings to ‘cleanse’ himself of his deadly lineage. Meanwhile, Sam confronts her father, Walter Anderson, about his unethical experiments during the 1960s involving viral experiments that led to the mental breakdown of 34 people.

Heads, You Lose: Someone is killing the young and beautiful in Florida’s trendy South Beach by decapitating the victims and leaving their heads on public display. Sam profiles that the killer is striking against beautiful people as a result of his low self-esteem. Evidence eventually points to a young shipping magnate, named Thomas King, who has squandered his multi-million dollar inheritance on South Beach’s cosmopolitan lifestyle. Instead of blaming himself, he is now striking out at those who helped him spend his fortune. Meanwhile, Grace attempts to reconcile the strained relationship she has with her Cuban-American mother. Also, the detective on the case, Mario Monagno, falls for Sam and tries everything he can to land a date with her.

Otis, California: When Donald Lucas, the imprisoned Jack-of-All Trades killer, manages to hack onto the Internet, Bailey fears that he is communicating with a disciple. The investigation leads the VCTF to a small and very strange northern California town, named Otis, which is plagued by a series of Jack-of-All-Trade murders. With the assistance of the crackpot Sheriff Ed Post, Sam, Bailey and the team try to find the suspect. But George gets abducted by the suspect, who is connected to a reclusive, wheelchair-bound professor named Philip Mendez, who is found murdered. The search leads to an underground lab where Sam discovers her father once worked there for his government-sponsored mind-control experiments, in which Lucas was one of the test subjects.

Spree of Love: A series of murders across the Southwest leads Sam and the VCTF team to an unlikely couple: a 32-year-old woman, Josie Wells, and a 16-year-old boy, Alex Lopez, who apparently abducted her from her child’s soccer field in Boulder, Colorado. Sam figures out that the woman was apparently the victim of physical abuse as a child and has abandoned her unhappy and lonely married life and reliving her glory days with the boy she met on a help phone line. Meanwhile, Bailey tries to persuade his ex-wife, Janet, not to remarry for he feels she’s throwing her own life away.

Burnt Offerings: Sam and the team try to catch a mystic arsonist on the loose in Atlanta. Sam profiles that he apparently risks his own life by setting the fires himself on the spot. After a red herring lead involving a photographer always on the scene of the fires, Sam and the team find graffiti messages on walls of the burned out buildings in Persian meaning ‘fire god.’ The man is apparently seeking a ‘chosen one’ immune to fire in order take him to the afterlife to meet his deceased wife. Meanwhile, Sam is worried about Chloe when she becomes emotionally withdrawn when one of her classmates becomes a victim in one of the fires.

Three Carat Crisis: Sam and Bailey get caught up in a jewel heist by a trio of mentally unbalanced crooks named Randy, Kate and Stevie, that quickly turns into a hostage situation within the jewelry store. Sam and Bailey struggle to profile the perpetrators and their relationships with one another before any lives are lost. Sam tries to reason with the ringleader, Randy, to give up. Meanwhile on the outside the building, John quarrels with the pompous and overzealous police commander who wants to catch or kill all the perpetrators, even if it means that all of the hostages will be killed.

Seduction :George and Sam go undercover as IRS agents at Borden & Associates, a management office in Palm Beach, Florida, because five of their clientele have been murdered with one finger from their left hand missing. As Sam profiles the most likely suspect, Bobby O’Hara, who shows a strong interest in her, the firm’s shadowy security chief, Leo Cantrell, becomes suspicious of Sam’s true identity. Meanwhile, Kevin Miller, an arrogant FBI agent working the case, complicates the investigation much to Bailey’s worry for Sam’s safety and Miller’s indifference to otherwise, while John works with the local police detective, Lt. Cynthia Ford, in discovering the bodies.

Grand Master: Sam continues to study the case of Bryce Banks, a 13-year-old chess prodigy, whose life might still be in danger and deals with ‘Pretender’ Jarod (impersonating a police detective named Doyle) who is looking after Bryce. Her fears are proven right when Bryce disappears. Sam and Jarod suspect the enigmatic Father (aka: Ronald Dain) is using the boy in his revenge plans by killing all the members of a top-secret project 20 years before involving brainwashing.

Las Brisas: In the two-part season finale, the Donald Lucas trial begins as the team heads out to Mexico where in the small town of Las Brisas, women have been vanishing without a trace for the past year, and some corpses have been discovered. But their investigation is hampered on both sides of the border by the corrupt police chief, Miguel Villalobos, who is under the thumb of a U.S sheriff, J.D. Tollman, who try to derail the VCTF’s investigation when the murders lead to a powerful U.S. businessman named James Lofton, who’s running a textile factory in Las Brisas and has been seen in the company of local prostitutes, some of whom ended up as victims. While assisting Marta Fernandez, a loyal policewoman with the investigation, Sam and the group commute back and forth to Atlanta for Lucas’ trial with testimony from her, Bailey, George, against Lucas. Also testifying on Sam’s behalf is Sheriff Ed Post from Otis, California who, unknown to everyone, is actually the real Jack-of-All-Trades who has been in hiding all this time and is using Lucas, his disciple, to get close to Sam.

What’s Love Got To Do With It: Sam and Bailey work with FBI field agent Susan Marsh who is tracking Robert Lee Gregg, a conservative civic leader in Atlanta who is suspected in the killing of six gay men. But their investigation is happened by Susan’s former boyfriend, Richard Russell, who is stalking her. Susan insists she’s in control of the situation, but Bailey thinks otherwise when her boyfriend is found murdered and Russell is a suspect. Things get worse when Russell targets Bailey and his ex-wife Janet who are now back together. Meanwhile, Sam leaves the investigation and travels to Miami to investigate the disappearance of a local man who may be connected to the Gregg killings, and she finds herself being pursued by Detective Mario Monagno, who still wants to date her.

Season Four:

Reunion, Part 1: The day after getting shot by the real Jack-of-All-Trades, a wounded Bailey calls upon FBI profiler Rachel Burke to find Sam after Jack kidnaps her and subjects her to tortuous mind games by confining her within an abandoned warehouse and trying to get her to be like him in killing to achieve a sense of superiority. In the meantime, Rachel quickly works out the self-serving confessions of Donald Lucas, who she correctly assumes was a pawn in Jack’s game and by questioning Samantha’s father about her history, finally learns Jack’s real identity as Albert Newquay and of his methods.

Reunion, Part 2: A kidnapped Sam (Ally Walker) stalls for time as the murderous Jack of All Trades (Dennis Christopher) twists the facts hoping to convince her that she too will kill — when the subject and timing are right — while a recovering Bailey (Robert Davi) and new profiler Rachel Burke (Jamie Luner) grope for clues about Jack’s hideout. But Jack shows a new card when he lures Sam’s young daughter, Chloe (Evan Rachel Wood), into his web of deceit by convincing her that her mother was responsible for her father’s slaying.

Blind Eye: Now a member of the VCTF team, newly relocated Agent Rachel Burke sorts through a series of murders where the killer singles out successful career women and subjects them to perform humiliating housework and compulsive cleaning before posing them naked in kitchens or bathrooms. While Rachel narrows in on a suspect (guest star Scott Allen Campbell) whose timid, fearful wife (guest star Paula Malcomson) may be the missing link, she must first overcome her combative relationship with an increasingly skeptical John.

Old Ghosts: An obsessed Malone is haunted by an unsolved case in Georgia concerning several teenage girls who were slain with a knife 15 years ago, and when more older victims are suddenly found – marked with slashes on their bodies — his focus zeroes in on their original prime suspect who has resurfaced in the area. Once he has the VCTF team on board, he enlists Rachel’s help to connect the two crime sprees but his decision to exhume the earlier victims understandably draws the wrath of their ever-grieving parents.

Infidelity: When Rachel and Bailey investigate a series of Ohio murders in which the mutilated victims are cheating husbands, they suspect that the killer is the vengeful boyfriend of a woman common to all of the dead men… until she offers an unconvincing confession. Meanwhile, the VCTF team must contend with a local sheriff who wants to join their force, Grace must deal with her crumbling marriage and new pregnancy, and George is left limping after a painful car accident.

To Serve & Protect: When a series of random murder victims are found on the streets of St. Louis, Rachel and the VCTF team believe the killer is a military veteran who uses weapons of opportunity, and their focus shifts to an incoherent, ranting homeless person who fits the profile. However, Rachel wonders if she should widen her field of suspects to include any ex-serviceman, and trained killer, who is susceptible to an altered state psychosis. Back at VCTF headquarters in Atlanta, George ignores his increasing reliance on prescription pain pills while recovering from his minor car accident.

Original Sin: As Christmas nears, Rachel and the VCTF work into the night in search of a twisted serial killer who goes on-line to select his victims, all of whom are carefully screened, seeking a candidate he can make over into his ideal woman. Meanwhile, Rachel is surprised when her troubled younger brother, Danny, drops in from out of town and displays telltale signs of substance abuse. Also, Rachel finally confronts George about his own addiction to pain pills and other drugs.

Train Man: Rachel and Bailey respond to the growing list of isolated elderly men and women who are strangled while riding the rails in the Southwest, and Rachel notes cigarette burns that indicate the young killer must have been a victim of abuse as well. While the killer eyes his next targets, the VCTF theorizes that the dead victims must be surrogates for an angry drifter who feels rejected by society and taking it out on other derelicts. Meanwhile, Rachel begins to suspect George’s painkiller addiction due to his increasingly erratic behavior while Bailey quarrels with the by-the-book Arizona Sheriff Cunningham over their investigation.

Quid Pro Quo: Rachel and the VCTF team search for a serial killer who strangles women with knots of their own hair. But when the latest victim is the daughter of powerful mob boss James Perrone, the FBI profiler must gain the grieving father’s confidence to learn more about her habits. Meanwhile, Rachel is under pressure from the Bureau’s Organized Crime Division director, Joel Marks, to take advantage of her access to Perrone and wear a wire to trick him into confessing to a fellow mobster’s murder, thereby ending a lengthy investigation.

Clean Sweep: Rachel and the VCTF work with Jarod when two dirty Secret Service agents, who are their most direct link to the killers of a fellow agent, are found slain. However, while romantic sparks fly between the pair, Jarod suddenly disappears and is tortured by the murderer Todd Baxter, who is on a crazed mission to eliminate everyone he thinks is involved in the agency’s corruption. Meanwhile, Grace learns of George’s addition to painkillers and pep pills and threatens him to quit or she’ll inform on him.

Random Act: When John’s girlfriend is hurt during a convenience-store robbery, he shoots one of the criminals. Rachel and Bailey grow concerned that John may seek justice outside the law and his shooting comes under review, leading him to resign out of anger and guilt over his girlfriend’s condition.

Besieged: Rachel appears on a radio call-in show at her old college when a rapist calls to play mind games. While searching for the rapist, Rachel reunites with an old boyfriend who has since married her old roommate. She also meets the therapist assigned to her brother’s drug rehabilitation. In the meantime, George misses work in his attempt to kick his addiction to painkillers.

Proteus: Rachel faces charges for a past incident involving Grant while the team searches for a killer. Elsewhere, Rachel becomes more romantic with Tom Arquette and Bailey orders George to get help for his painkiller addiction.

Paradise Lost: Rachel and her colleagues track down the killer of a woman and her two daughters. Meanwhile, George’s substance abuse problem creates a huge embarrassment just as a congresswoman begins an investigation of the team and Danny finds out about Rachel dating his drug counselor.

The Long Way Home: Rachel trails a serial kidnapper she once prosecuted, while her brother runs away from rehab.

House of Cards: Rachel tries to find a pattern when a sniper kills several people at a public park. In the meantime, George thinks Kim Doyle might replace him and Grace worries about her pregnancy.

Mea Culpa: The team links a 12-year-old’s abduction from a diner to three recent murders, while Rachel’s home is ransacked.

Pianissimo: As the team investigates a pianist’s death, Jarod from The Pretender returns to help Rachel deal with her being harassed by FBI Agent Marks.

On Your Marks: Marks continues his revenge plot while the team investigate the deaths of two men who don’t seem to have any backgrounds.

Tsuris: The team investigates the murders of businessmen as Marks continues to spook Rachel.

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