How could I have forgotten how much I loved this show? For several years this was at the top of my list, a series that took FBI profiling and made it work for episodic TV. Borrowing from some pretty impressive source material (like Thomas Harris' 'Red Dragon' and 'Silence of the Lambs'), Profiler brought us strong heroes and scary villains, with an impressive enough menace in its uber-bad guy, Jack of All Trades, that the relatively new medium known as the internet was humming with all things Jack.
Jack's historic obsession with our hero(ine), Samantha Waters, gave the series its jump start, as well as a great deal of its tension. (And, unfortunately, when that arc was over, a bit of the air went out of the show.)
To take care of the heavy lifting, NBC chose an actress who a few years earlier had played a similar role in the movie, 'When the Bough Breaks,' Ally Walker. In her mid-30s when the show started, the grind of a dramatic series would eventually take its toll on Walker--not to mention the son she gave birth to in the middle of the run. But while she was still engaged, she was great, creating a memorable character worth caring about.
Sam struck a chord with viewers not just because of the sensitive acting of Ally Walker, but because she could be vulnerable and strong at the same time. Of course she was pretty, but not so pretty that it seemed out of place. And that voice! Walker has one of those unforgettable Kathleen Turner-esque voices, helped along no doubt by a serious cigarette habit off screen.
But a great protagonist isn't enough to make a great series. This one had an excellent ensemble cast, led by the distinctively craggy Robert Davi whose Bailey Malone was a fantastic foil for Sam. Peter Frechette played one of the first gay regulars in an hour-long drama; his George got to chew a little scenery during the four seasons the show lasted. And there was notable testosterone on hand via the occasional appearances of A Martinez as Coop, one of Sam's tragic love interests (their relationship was actually worth watching unfold) and, of course, thanks to the oh-so-gorgeous presence of the then-unknown Julian McMahon playing my favorite character on the series, John Grant.
And then there was the show's omniscient menace, Jack of All Trades--later revealed to be portrayed by Dennis Christopher--the ingredient that gave the show its extra punch (and much of its fan base).
While it seems like the majority of Profiler fans feel the show went gradually downhill, reaching its lowest point when Walker walked and Jamie Luner's Rachel took Sam's place, I was one who kept watching. And even though I was occasionally griping, I was entertained enough to fervently wish the show would last longer than its fourth season. It didn't. But during those four seasons and 83 episodes there was enough good writing and good acting laced with thoughtful plots, well-paced suspense and realistic action that Profiler can definitely be declared a series success. Just thinking about it makes me want to see it again!