There are no poignant moments or startling revelations in "An American Profile: The Narcs," an NBC documentary that follows the lives and work of one narcotics squad in Miami. Instead "Narcs," at 10 tonight on Channel 4, does a competent and dull job of reporting the statistics and logistics of the drug trade in southern Florida that most everyone knows is rampant.
Tom Brokaw, looking tanned in an open-collared shirt, narrates this 60-minute special that proposes to examine the "unusual and difficult life styles" of narcotics agents. The problem is that -- with the exception of the squad's captain who no longer operates undercover -- the men (understandably) don't want their faces, or their families, shown on camera or described in detail. The result for the most part is a boring roundtable discussion with Brokaw, who, attempting to make the men feel at ease, asks things like "That's almost a year's salary for you, isn't it?" when they describe finding $280,000 in cash in a Coral Gables home, and "Do you ever get invited to parties where you know someone will be smoking dope?"
The show also includes some cliche'd cops-and-robbers footage of stakeouts. In one case, two of the officers pose as potential customers and pretend to want cocaine from "the fat man and his friend," as the suspects are called. The viewer hears the verbal exchange in Spanish over the police radio, including the phrase "Esta bonita." Then English subtitles flash on the screen ("It's pretty") and Brokaw obligingly interprets, "This seems to be good stuff."
Undoubtedly, these men lead dangerous lives, but we never really get to know any of them. At one point, in describing the frustrations of a lenient judicial system once a suspect is finally captured, one officer says, "The judge doesn't see what we see . . . When they go to court, they're there with their wife, the kids and the priest." Likewise, the viewer doesn't see what Brokaw or NBC sees, and it's hard to empathize with "The Narcs," much less regard them as heroes.