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Profiler

You know a show is in trouble before it premieres when the most distinctive thing said about it is that it's identical to another drama series premiering on a competing network. Such is the case with NBC's "Profiler," which sports a premise eerily similar to the new Chris Carter-created Fox series thriller "Millennium."

With:
Cast: Ally Walker, Robert Davi, Julian McMahon, Roma Maffia, Peter Frechette, Erica Gimpel, Caitlin Wachs, Carol Martin, Melissa McBride, Joe Washington, Patty Mack, Anderson Martin, Elaine Wadsworth, Eaddy W. Thomas.

You know a show is in trouble before it premieres when the most distinctive thing said about it is that it’s identical to another drama series premiering on a competing network. Such is the case with NBC’s “Profiler,” which sports a premise eerily similar to the new Chris Carter-created Fox series thriller “Millennium.”

Filmed in Atlanta by Sander/Moses Prods. for NBC Studios Inc. Executive producers, Ian Sander, Kim Moses; creator/supervising producer/writer, Cynthia Saunders; producer, Tom Luse; associate producer, Cathy Frank; director, John Patterson; production coordinator, Alison Deen Fibben; production designer, Charles Bennett; director of photography, Kees Van Oostrum; casting, Anthony Barneo, Shay Bentley-Griffin; set decorator, Katie Kinholster; costume designer, Ingrid Price; Of course, the NBC folk will tell you that it’s actually the other way around , that “Millennium” is actually just like “Profiler” and that “Profiler” premiered first, so nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah.

Get some rest. It’s going to be a long season.

While “Millennium” is about an ex-FBI agent who has the ability to enter the minds of serial killers to finger their motivations and solve murders, the “Profiler” premise centers on an Atlanta forensic psychologist (Ally Walker) who is able to visually recreate a crime, its perpetrator and its victim(s) simply by visiting the crime scene.

This fail-safe method for tracking criminal scum is complicated by the fact that Walker’s Dr. Sam Waters has lived in seclusion since a homicidal maniac named Jack-of-All-Trades (gee, that isn’t too contrived) rubbed out her husband three years ago just to get her attention. It did. And as the series opens, he’s still at large.

Waters is shoved out of retirement to help the feds (particularly her friend and mentor in the FBI, played by Robert Davi) sniff out this beast. In the meantime, we get plenty of close-ups of Walker’s blonde tresses and ruby-red lips as well as glimpses into her life as a single mom with a spunky daughter (Caitlin Wachs) and smart-aleck roomie (Erica Gimpel).

Walker, seen most recently in the Shaquille O’Neal bomb “Kazaam,” is an intriguing, enigmatic presence, neither bimbo nor beauty, and clearly a smart actress. Unfortunately, the script by series creator Cynthia Saunders doesn’t match Walker’s beguiling turn.

Simply put, the first two episodes of this show are spectacularly dull. We get scene after scene of Walker looking puzzled while washed-out images of brutal crimes flash by. It’s neither unsettling nor particularly intense, too consumed with being stylish and atmospheric to concern itself with constructing an exciting plot.

In future weeks, the bet is that “Profiler” will treat us to still more bewildered expressions and blurry flashbacks, Jack-of-All-Trades will continue to stalk our favorite clairvoyant police shrink, and people will keep saying, “Gee, that looks an awful lot like ‘Millennium.’ ”

The snore you hear may be your own.

Profiler

Production: NBC, SAT. SEPT. 21, 10 P.M.

Crew: Editor, Michael Kewley; music, Wendy Blackstone; main title theme, Angelo Badalamenti. 60 MIN.

With: Cast: Ally Walker, Robert Davi, Julian McMahon, Roma Maffia, Peter Frechette, Erica Gimpel, Caitlin Wachs, Carol Martin, Melissa McBride, Joe Washington, Patty Mack, Anderson Martin, Elaine Wadsworth, Eaddy W. Thomas.

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