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A&E Home Video presents
Profiler: Season 2 (1997-1998)

John Grant: Jack's back.
Sam Waters: He never left.

- Julian McMahon, Ally Walker

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: November 23, 2003

Stars: Ally Walker, Robert Davi, Julian McMahon, Roma Maffia, Peter Frechette, Shiek Mahmud-Bey, Erica Gimpel
Other Stars: Caitlin Wachs, Heather McComb, Traci Lords, Dennis Christopher, Richard Roundtree, Louise Fletcher, Michael Learned, A. Martinez, Alicia Coppola, Larry Wilcox, Bruce Weitz, Clarence Williams III, Karen Black, James Handy
Director: Dan Lerner, Ian Sander, Jack Bender, Felix Enriquez Alcala, Tucker Gates, Jefery Levy, John Peterson, Bobby Roth, James Whitmore Jr., Kim Moses, Ian Toynton, Kees Van Oostrum

Manufacturer: Blink Digital
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, language, gore)
Run Time: 15h:18m:15s
Release Date: November 25, 2003
UPC: 733961710212
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-BA- C+

DVD Review

Although it ran for but four seasons (and only three of those with the principal character intact), Profiler has had a long-reaching impact on television crime-fighting dramas. In particular, the enormously popular C.S.I. not only is highly dependent on the same methods of tracking down criminals, but uses very similar styles of black-and-white flashbacks to the crimes and exceedingly dark and moody photography.

The series centers on the Violent Crimes Task Force, particularly master profiler Samantha Waters (Ally Walker) and the head of the unit, Bailey Malone (Robert Davi). Season 2 begins in media res, tying up loose ends from the cliffhanger that concluded Season 1, with Sam framed for murder and Bailey shot by his own daughter. Each episode (or group of episodes) features a serial killer of the week as the "A" story, and as the "B" story, Sam's nemesis, the brilliant but insane Jack of All Trades killer (Dennis Christopher). Every now and then, Jack erupts into the "A" story, but throughout he remains a step or three ahead of the VCTF, hacking into their computers, killing their loved ones and psychologically torturing Sam, with whom he's obsessed. To make matters worse, this season Jack has decided that he needs a sidekick: what Jack can be without his Jill? So Jack takes on a female apprentice, Sharon Lesher (Traci Lords), who takes the same glee in homicide and makes things even more difficult.

Also in the mix are former cop John Grant (Julian McMahon), whose family is connected with the mob; George Fraley (Peter Frechette), the computer hacker par excellence who is subject to blackmail; and Grace Alvarez (Roma Maffia), the doctor who analyzes the evidence of the bodies themselves.

With the second season, the already intriguing and involving first season ratchets up several notches. Since we're familiar with the primary cast of characters, the writers feel free to explore their backgrounds, leading to some interesting character drama to go with the crime solving. We learn more about Bailey's disturbed relationship with his daughter, Sam's difficult relationship with her dead husband's parents, and the intrigues and problems of the rest of the cast. In addition, the grim look at law enforcement is a bit different from most programs; many of the cops here are dirty, many of the judges are corrupt, and all of the lawyers are of course evil to the core (all right, the last isn't that different).

There are numerous highlights here, but the early episodes where Jack is remaking Sharon to resemble Sam a la Vertigo are among the best. Also noteworthy is Second Best, a white-knuckle episode that features Sam's sometimes boyfriend, Nick Cooper (A. Martinez), in a battle of wits against a mad bomber. Dying to Live is exceedingly odd, with its forced moral dilemma about a killer who is arranging organ donations from his victims, killing in order to give life. Perhaps the weakest is Birthright, in which a killer is supposedly stalking four different men over a few years; interestingly, the C.S.I. episode Stalker reuses this episode's notion of a psychotic stalker watching his victims from their own attics. Another rather far-fetched program is Bloodlust, which requires Grant to infiltrate a deathsport boxing match by becoming a contestant. The episodes that are entirely focused on Jack tend to be the most intriguing, especially since he seems more realistic than in Season 1, with fewer amazing abilities and relying more on scheming and psychological abuse.

Jack is both the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of the series. His narrative thread provides a continuity that makes the series hang together and be compulsively watchable. At the same time, the producers made the mistake of featuring Jack in every single episode, which makes it highly implausible that he would be able to remain in such close contact with the VCTF and still remain so elusive. In addition, they didn't learn from Twin Peaks, where the resolution of the Laura Palmer murder spelled the death knell for the series; either the Jack story would become ridiculous with his magical escapes, or the forward narrative would be lost when the Jack story finally resolved. Even X-Files was careful not to make every single episode part of the overall mythology.

Although the series quickly went downhill in the next two years, it's still first rate in Season Two and utterly compelling viewing. The 19 episodes are presented in their original airdate order, but the fifth episode (Power Corrupts) should actually have been the second or third shown in order for the continuity to make sense. The 18th episode, Die Beautiful, here has a running time more than two minutes shorter than any other one, which leads me to suspect that it is a cut print. The anti-rape PSA featuring Ally Walker is missing from the prologue to the program Every Five Minutes, but the victim count during the show is intact.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The full-frame picture is quite detailed and attractive for the most part, although frequently the photography is so dark that you may need to push your television's brightness levels up a few stops. Colors are rich and deep, and flesh tones are generally good. One episode, Dying to Live, for some reason has quite a bit of video artifacting. Otherwise, I didn't have any serious issues during much of the running time, although the flashback sequences display heavy line structure; that may be intentional stylistically, however, so I'm not subtracting points for that effect.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is first-rate with clear dialogue and music with excellent presence. Bass levels are quite good and pack a serious punch. Surrounds are active and when there are sirens and ambient noise the viewer is brought into the crime scenes. A very nice audio track.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 140 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Feature/Episode commentary by criminal profiler Pat Brown
Packaging: Thinpak
Picture Disc
6 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: There isn't much for extras here. The episode Victims of Victims features a fascinating commentary by real-life profiler and author Pat Brown, who dispels some myths about serial killers and talks about how genuine profiling works; no surprise, it's more boring than on television. Why this episode in particular was chosen for the commentary isn't readily apparent, but it's excellent and well worth listening to in any event. She is highly articulate and has plenty of interesting things to say in her brief discussion; I wouldn't have minded her talk spreading onto two or more episodes since it sounds as if she has plenty more to say on the subject. Perhaps for Season 3. Short onscreen biographies for the principal cast and Pat Brown are the only other extra. Chaptering is generous with 8 stops per episode; unfortunately as usual for A&E product, there is no 'play all' function. Please, start adding this useful button.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

The influential crime series hits its peak with Season 2, and A&E provides an excellent transfer. Highly recommended for crime fans.


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