Monday, October 10, 2022

Professionals, on CW

Special operators (a.k.a. professionals) are a lot like teachers or economists. Some are good and some are bad. Only lawyers and government bureaucrats are mostly evil. The Swann Corporation happens to have both good and bad operators on the payroll. Visionary genius Peter Swann has the good ones and his half-sister Zora has the bad ones. Initially, he is not sure Zora realizes how bad her lover’s outfit truly is. Regardless, he needs protection from his rivals in showrunners Michael Colleary & Jeff Most’s 10-episode Professionals, which premieres tomorrow on the CW.

Swann had a grand ambition to launch a revolutionary satellite that would give his lover Dr. Graciela Davila advanced warning of global pandemics. Their goal would be to prevent them rather than profit off them. Unfortunately, that won’t be happening, since the rocket exploded on take-off.

As luck would have it, Davila happens to know someone with the skillset Swann needs. She was once involved with Vincent Corbo in a previous war zone. Of course, Corbo immediately figures out the explosion was sabotage, but it had to be an inside job. It does not take long to connect the dots to Luther Bruhn, who has apparently charmed Swann’s half-sister, Zora.

Clearly, Swann has trouble with his board, which ill-advisedly includes at least one Russian gangster. He also has to worry about his rebellious daughter Jane, who is not being treated right by her wannabe gangster-rapper boyfriend. Corbo must also contend with his own family distractions, supplied by his angry carjacking brother Danny. To protect his screw-up sibling, Corbo waylaid Europol officer Kurt Neumann, stealing damning evidence against Tariq Basari, the eurotrash crimelord Danny was indebted to. Inconveniently, that means Neumann will be coming for the Corbo brothers.

is largely conventional, but it features some really crisp action scenes. It might not sound like a CW show, but it stars Tom Wellin (all grown-up from Smallville) as Corbo. This is definitely a departure from young Clark Kent, but he is believably rugged and hardnosed. Wellin also develops a decent odd couple rhythm with Brendan Fraser’s Peter Swann. This is obviously an older, heavier Fraser compared to his Mummy glory days, but he well-suits the sheltered but brilliant tech mogul.

As Davila, Elena Anaya convincingly mediates between them while their buddy-relationship blossoms. Of course, for teenage boys, the real star of the show will be Tanya van Graan, playing Corbo’s subcontractor Romy Brandt, who certainly looks like she belongs in a South African-European co-production. Corbo’s crew, including her, Nick Rasenti as Jack “Hacksaw” Smythe, and Stevel Marc as Tyler “Trig” Raines, bring a lot of energy and human dimension to the series beyond mere comic relief and sex appeal. It is a likable crew that inspires confidence, which is critical to hooking weekly viewers.

The problem is August Wittgenstein (from the
Das Boot series) lacks sufficient size and presence to be an effective antagonist to Wellin’s hulking Corbo. One swift backhand should send him flying. However, Lisa Loven Kongsli makes Zora Swann intriguingly ambiguous, at least in the early episodes and Said Taghmaoui is flamboyantly scummy as Basari.

Colleary and Most do not reinvent any wheels in
Professionals, but they execute the series with such slick professionalism, they don’t have to. There is a good balance between fights in the battlefield and in the boardroom, giving both Swann and Corbo opportunities to showcases their strengths. It is fun and surprisingly grabby. Recommended for old school viewers who want to watch good guys kicking bad guys’ butts, Professionals starts tomorrow night (10/11) on the CW.