The Pretender and The Profiler

The Pretender (1996-2000)
The Profiler (1996-2000)
Type: Crossover

   NBC has a habit of creating names for different nights on its prime time schedule. It started with "Must See TV Thursday". The idea is to try and get people to not just watch one show but to have them associate the entire night as one big event and then, hopefully watch them all.

   Another night they came up with was the "Saturday Night Thrillogy!" The idea was that they programmed three horror/fantasyish drama shows together with the hope that all the geeks that sit home watching TV on Saturdays would tune in. The original lineup was Dark Skies: a X-file-ish alien conspiracy drama set in the 60's, The Pretender and Profiler. Dark Skies didn't last and other shows came and went in that third slot but The Pretender and Profiler both did fairly well. Given the unity NBC was trying to create between these shows as a programming block, it was only a matter of time before a crossover happened.

   The Pretender starred Michael T. Weiss as Jarod, a man with an extraordinary mind. He was a brilliant child who - along with other child geniuses - was used as part of a secret project at a place called The Centre. The Centre used these children's intelligence for their own questionable purposes, taking the children from their parents and raising them as virtual hostages. As an adult Jarod finally escaped. He learned so quickly he could basically assume any identity and occupation he wanted. He traveled the country, hiding, trying to avoid being recaptured, using his talents to "pretend" to be all sorts of people - doctors, policemen, rangers - and in the process helping others. All the while he searched for the parents he only knew from pictures.

   Profiler had a bit more reality based, if exaggerated, premise. Ally Walker starred as Dr. Samantha Waters, a criminal profiler. Criminal Profiler is in fact a real occupation. Profilers study crime scenes and evidence and use the information they come up with to try and build a psychological profile of the criminal in question. They try to figure out how that criminal thinks and behaves so that they can catch them.

   The crossover between The Pretender and Profiler was a two part story that began on The Pretender and then concluded immediately after on Profiler. I'm going to give away the major plot points here so if you don't want to know specifics, stop here.

   The Pretender started with Jarod "pretending" to be a cop and just about to move on when word comes to the station about the kidnapping of a young boy. Needless to say, kids getting swiped from their folks strikes a chord with Jarod and he sticks around to work on the case. Samantha Walker shows up to work on the case because the kidnapping bears a strong resemblance to a number of other kidnappings that have been going on for several years. Sam, Profiler that she is, starts picking up on different things about Jarod and figuring out he isn't just some cop.

   They pick up a suspect in the crime who turns out to be a previous kidnapping victim who was never recovered and who has been brainwashed. It turns out all the kids who have been snatched get brainwashed into working for some mystery figure named "father". Any kid who is kidnapped and can't be brainwashed within a short span of time gets killed. Our heroes finally locate the kidnapped kid just as he about to be killed by another brainwashed flunky. This gives a nice "The End" for The Pretender while leaving enough loose ends for the story to continue on Profiler. By the end of The Pretender Sam pieces together a lot about who Jarod is: seeing where Jarod has been living, how unpermanent it was, plus the toys he now owns that he couldn't have as a kid.

   Profiler started its half with the brainwashed guys killing themselves. Then the boy tour heroes had gone to all that trouble to save? His room exploded and he was believed dead. The kid wasn't all that "not brainwashed" afterall and he faked his death and ran off to "father".

   It turns pout all the craziness is because of brainwashing experiments. There was a group of guys who did a mind control project for the government. One of the team members was going to go public with what they had been up to and somebody blow'd him up! Only it turns out the person who actually got blow'd up was that man's son. With everyone thinking him dead, that man set about destroying the other members of the team who he held responsible for his son's death. He was "father" and he stole the other team member's sons from them, brainwashed the kids and then used the kids to help him knock off their parents. Follow that? By the start of the story he has rubbed most of them out and in the course of the story blows up most of the rest real good! The only guy left? Who do you think! The father of the kid these episodes are all about. In the end the trap is set so that the kid will blow up his own dad but our heroes manage to talk some sense into Billy Brainwashed and get him not to do it. Then, this being a big ol' government conspiracy thing, everyone involved disappears.

   The end of the episode has Sam finding some info that would help Jarod on his quest to find his folks. She goes to give him the info but arrives to find his apartment empty and abandoned. She is too late. He has moved on.

   A final note. In its last season The Profiler traded up Profilers. Goodbye Ally Walker, hello Melrose Place's smokey voiced Jamie Luner as Rachel Burke. This new profiler also had a cross with The Pretender most likely in an attempt to cross-pollinate both shows. Replacing your title character doesn't exactly help a show after all. If it was meant to help it didn't. After respectable runs, both shows folded up tents at the end of that season. The Pretender did resurface on the TNT cable channel with a couple new made for cable movies.

Links To Pretender Web Sites

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