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Profit? More Like "Oh, Come Off It!" - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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August 20th, 2007


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11:39 pm - Profit? More Like "Oh, Come Off It!"
The 1995-1996 television season was not a great one: I loved and lost Space: Above and Beyond, American Gothic, and VR.5. Toward the tail end of the season, however, in April, Fox played their now-familiar tune: they released an original, daring new drama to vast critical acclaim and then cancelled it after four episodes due to poor ratings. That show was Profit, and here are some reasons you should be interested in it:

  • The show was inspired by the Ian McKellen version of Richard III.
  • The show was co-created by David Greenwalt of Angel fame, and Gracen and Gracen is sort of a proto-Wolfram and Hart.
  • Adrian Pasdar not only gives good voiceover, but he also gives good sociopath. After watching this show, you'll never want Nathan Petrelli to be a good, decent person again.
  • Keith Szarabajka (Holtz!!) attempts to battle Adrian Pasdar as to who has the cooler voice.
  • Also, Adrian Pasdar is naked in basically every episode.

    Now, I must tread softly because I don't want to spoil anything. I knew very little about the show going in, which meant there were surprises at every turn. This is one of the most unpredictable shows I've watched, really, especially since it moves so quickly; each episode is very dense. This is not a show where you are ever bored, because something is always happening.

    The wonderful thing about Profit is the wonderful thing about Richard III: the main character is the villain of the piece. That makes for a dark show, and Profit features such happy themes as incest, infidelity, abuse, molestation, murder, and most other sins that have names. Also, it's funny!

    Jim Profit works at a large corporation called Gracen and Gracen, the kind of corporation that buys out small companies and merges with others and all that good stuff. That's the setting for all this mayhem. The pilot shows us that Profit is motivated to get into a particular seat of power, and he will do anything to get there. He's very goal-oriented.

    Each episode begins and ends with Profit speaking directly to the audience, transitioning into and out of voiceover. It's a very unsettling and effective technique because it lets us into his world. In some sense, it's creepier than Dexter because Dexter rarely acknowledges the audience directly, whereas Profit is always conscious that we're watching. He's telling us the story as it unfolds, and he kind of expects us to like him. And, honestly, it's actually harder to like Jim Profit, plotter of schemes, than it is to like Dexter Morgan, serial killer. By God, Adrian Pasdar pulls it off, though. Part of it starts to come from sheer admiration: Profit knows people. Like Dexter, he is a cipher himself but can mimic any emotion that's needed. He's able to manipulate people into doing what he wants by making them think they're doing what they want. People are just pawns in Profit's grand chess game. Whereas Dexter only kills bad guys and actually has a fairly strong moral code in a sense, Profit is not constrained so much by such things. The things he does to people in the name of accomplishing his goals...are awful. But he's not evil; he doesn't twirl his moustache at how much he's hurting people. He just doesn't...care, so much. He sits back and orchestrates chaos like Iago, rarely getting his own hands dirty (he's constantly wearing gloves, giving you the impression that he's ready to commit murder at any second).

    Like Dexter, Profit has at least one character be aware of his dastardly deeds but be unable to prove it. Now, Doakes presents little actual threat to Dexter during the series thus far, but Joanne Meltzer, head of security, is a formidable adversary to Profit, obsessed with outing him as the psychopath he is. Unlike Dexter, Profit has a reluctant accomplice in the form of Gail, who became one of my favorite characters. Gail scenes are usually comedy gold, but the comedy in this show is often, of course, black. Also, Nora Gracen is very pretty.

    Profit was clearly ahead of its time. (The computer graphics are laughable, and the cell phones are huge!) Today, it would find a nice home on FX or HBO or Showtime, where it could go all out on the numerous sex scenes. Luckily, it lives on in DVD form. The two-hour pilot was followed with seven episodes, and the final episode does a pretty successful job of resolving most of the story arcs in play (except for one loose end conspicuously lying about). The DVDs also include a really good making-of featurette that's over an hour long in which co-creators John McNamara and David Greenwalt chronicle the rise and fall of the show.

    If you're into dark, twisted, brilliant-but-cancelled drama, Profit is right up your alley.

    Was ever viewer in this humor wooed?
    Was ever viewer in this humor won?

    Current Mood: predatorypredatory
    Current Music: Juno Reactor - Pistolero (Fluke "Hang 'Em High" Remix)
  • (20 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

    Comments:


    From:wee_warrior
    Date:August 21st, 2007 08:06 am (UTC)
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    Glad you like the show, too. (I really should try to watch the final four episodes, should I?)

    Also, psst: Ian McKellen!
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    From:adinarj
    Date:August 21st, 2007 11:38 am (UTC)
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    Yes, you should!

    I think I need to watch it again. That's how compelling I find it. I must watch it again and again.
    [User Picture]
    From:spectralbovine
    Date:August 21st, 2007 02:59 pm (UTC)
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    Oops!

    And, yes, you're missing the Gail-centric episode!
    [User Picture]
    From:latropita
    Date:August 21st, 2007 08:06 am (UTC)
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    I remember reading the TWoP recap of the pilot and thinking it sounded totally balls out insane, like Twin Peaks. I may have to look into it if it's on DVD now.
    [User Picture]
    From:spectralbovine
    Date:August 21st, 2007 03:03 pm (UTC)
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    I still need to watch Twin Peaks.
    [User Picture]
    From:anoel
    Date:August 21st, 2007 10:04 am (UTC)
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    I keep hearing amazing things about this show. And as a lover of Dexter and Adrian Pasdar, it sounds right up my alley. The problem is I have way too many shows to watch...but it is short. I will see if I can give it a try though.
    [User Picture]
    From:spectralbovine
    Date:August 21st, 2007 03:03 pm (UTC)
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    It's really short! You should check it out.
    (Deleted comment)
    [User Picture]
    From:spectralbovine
    Date:August 21st, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
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    When I rewatched the show, it was sort of surprising to see how similar they were. It was doing a lot of what BSG would do later (and I think I mention that in my post), except not as well. Unfortunately, the show wasn't really as good as I remembered, although it had a lot of potential.
    (Deleted comment)
    [User Picture]
    From:upanashad
    Date:August 21st, 2007 04:23 pm (UTC)
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    I've never even heard of that show. I don't think I watched tv that year. Maybe I'll Netflix...I've been wanting a new series to watch.
    [User Picture]
    From:spectralbovine
    Date:August 21st, 2007 04:41 pm (UTC)
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    Or, you know, you could borrow my DVDs.
    [User Picture]
    From:upanashad
    Date:August 21st, 2007 05:08 pm (UTC)
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    I was thinking that, but I didn't want to be presumptuous.
    [User Picture]
    From:spectralbovine
    Date:August 21st, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC)
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    There are five different people in possession of one or more of my DVD sets right now. I'm a fucking library.
    [User Picture]
    From:upanashad
    Date:August 21st, 2007 05:18 pm (UTC)
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    Aren't you worried people won't return them? I loaned my S1 VM DVD's to a friend and she won't give them back! It's been like six months and every time I ask her she vaguely states they're in her house somewhere. She's holding a pair of my socks hostage, too.
    [User Picture]
    From:spectralbovine
    Date:August 21st, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC)
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    Well, cadhla has had my Wonderfalls DVDs for OVER A YEAR, and I'm beginning to miss them. I keep forgetting I OWN them. I want them back on my shelf! Taking up space I don't have! (Of course, I actually want them back so I can lend them to someone else.) The people with my Buffy/Angel and SPN DVDs live close by, so I can always ransack their apartment if needed. I trust miniglik to return my Avatar DVDs. The only real worry is my American Gothic DVDs with sophia_helix, since I don't see her that frequently. But she's a good egg.
    [User Picture]
    From:12_12_12
    Date:August 22nd, 2007 01:22 am (UTC)
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    I gave "Profit" a try, but it just wasn't for me. :( I wish I could get into it, because so many people love it. Maybe I'll give it another go in a few months time.

    I did like the fact that the main character is a villain. And seeing the actor who played Holtz on Angel was a great surprise.
    [User Picture]
    From:riani1
    Date:August 22nd, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
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    A dear friend who adores this show tried to get me interested, but I just couldn't stand to have Profit in the same room as me, even virtually. None of his "excuses" justified his actions to me, and I couldn't stand this guy being held up, even slightly, as someone to root for.
    [User Picture]
    From:soundingsea
    Date:September 3rd, 2007 09:50 pm (UTC)
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    Profit features such happy themes as incest, infidelity, abuse, molestation, murder, and most other sins that have names.

    Haha! Exactly why it is so awesome. I love me some wickedness on TV. :)

    And the gloves are such a perfect signature accessory. They do give the impression that Profit might throttle someone at a moment's notice if it served his ends.

    People are just pawns in Profit's grand chess game.

    I should be disturbed by how much this appeals to me. I should, but I'm not...
    [User Picture]
    From:magnolia888
    Date:September 4th, 2007 05:43 pm (UTC)
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    Also, Adrian Pasdar is naked in basically every episode.

    And this is what I remember most about this show. *sigh*

    It really sucked when it was canceled. It was so creepy, but so involving at the same time.
    [User Picture]
    From:stevenglassman
    Date:September 25th, 2007 03:51 am (UTC)
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    I loved this show in '96, and I was glad when the DVD was released, because I only had the pilot on the old VHS.

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