Dr. Samantha Waters (Ally Walker), a retired Profiler for the FBI, is called back into action by her former co-worker and friend Bailey Malone (Robert Davi), who heads a special unit in Atlanta called VCTF (Violent Crimes Task Force). Shortly after her arrival an old nemesis who goes by the name of Jack of All Trades, a vicious serial killer who has an obsession with Sam, starts going after her and the ones she cares for.
"Profiler" had a cracker jack start. Some stand alone episodes in the first season were very good but the ongoing saga between Jack and Sam was very suspenseful and the character of Jack was truly scary. The series had a special look when it came, very dark, nearly entirely humorless and very brooding characters. It really reached full force in the Sam/Jack confrontations and Season 1 ended with one hell of a climax.
Season 2 mostly carried on in the same vein as the First one with more characters added. Jack received a protegé and together they managed to makes Sam's life a living hell. The same dark tone and humorless approach continued and kept fans of the first season happy.
In Season 3 things changed quite a bit. Jack's nearly MIA in all but a few episodes and the episodes went through changes, such as more attention was payed to the evildoers and their plight rather than the classic detective elements in the previous two seasons. Ally Walker started acting like a character in another series, constantly displaying some off-putting attempts at humor. Ridiculous inconsistencies from the get go on Season 3; one major character disappears without any explanation, Walker's daughter ages a few years very mysteriously and some interesting story lines from the two previous seasons are never brought up again. The overall dark tone and look was mostly gone here and a lighter approach was attempted. Season 3 was the beginning of the end, though it had some interesting episodes and the ones concerning Jack were very solid.
Season 4 was mostly dreadful. The Sam/Jack story was wrapped up in the first two episodes, those two were pretty good but the overall buildup to the climax was always going to be a letdown. Still, it had an ending and that was good. Ally Walker exited the show and Jamie Luner (a terribly annoying actress) took her place. The episodes and mysteries themselves weren't all bad, but this new Profiler never filled Walker's shoes and the personal stories between the main characters were boring and at best half-explained.
Looking at "Profiler" overall, the show had a great cast. Ally Walker was pitch perfect, at least for the first two seasons, as Sam Waters. Her tough, no nonsense approach to the character, while making her somewhat vulnerable, was very impressive and it's only in the third season that she lost her touch. Robert Davi, always a forceful presence, does well as Baily Malone. Always underplaying, going for the quiet impact rather than hot blooded emotions, he is a big reason for the show's success. Roma Maffia, Peter Frechette and Julian McMahon provided solid support and the guest stars were usually good. Plus the guy who played Jack of All Trades was great (don't want to reveal the name for those yet to watch the show). But Jamie Luner was annoying as hell in the fourth and worst season.
It's easy to see that "Profiler" influenced some shows that are still going strong today but it's dead-on serious approach is what eventually distinguishes it from the rest. The two first seasons were terrific, the third one was solid but the fourth was not good.