Without a Trace Review
TV is becoming the new cinema apparently. With shows such as 24, Battlestar Galactica and C.S.I., the production values are much higher than before. Coupled with star power such as Willam Petersen and Keifer Sutherland, it's not a real surprise that more and more people tune in to catch these shows and even less of one to find that they are immensely popular on DVD. Without a Trace is definitely another show in my mind that should be in their company, hence why I've mentioned their popularity. I would venture as far as this is under the radar of quite a few people - I believe (although I may be wrong, as I don't actually watch TV) that it's a Channel 5 show. What we have here is effectively a show that has parallels with CSI - each episode is self-encapsulated, you can jump in at any point and enjoy a story, it has a large ensemble team and it is based on law and order.
Jack Malone (Anthony LaPaglia) heads up an FBI team, comprising of 4 other agents (including Samantha Spade - yes Sam Spade, I kid you not), who find missing persons. That's the whole show in one sentence - someone or ones go missing and they come in and solve the case of how and why they went missing and by whom. In much the same way as C.S.I. has a murder and they piece the evidence, our FBI team questions everyone and in turn, they question more and more people as the puzzle pieces slowly fit together. Inevitably, they find their missing person at the end - no surprises there, C.S.I. always find the killers also, but while we may know the ultimate ending, the journey to get there is still enjoyable.
Having said that, we don't just have missing people this season. One of the episodes actually has the setup in reverse - a person walks in and finds out they've been labelled as a missing person and therefore, due to complications, the case is made to find out who the parents actually are. We also have the normal murders and kidnappings here as well, which again are still enjoyable enough to watch.
Cast wise, LaPaglia is superb as Malone (I'm not saying lack of originality in the names - but Robert Davi was also an FBI agent called Malone in “Profiler”, an underrated show if ever there were), while I was never a great fan of his in “Murder One”, he works very well here. Eric Close, last seen by myself in the short lived “Dark Skies” plays his role very well, as the newest member of the team (he joined in the first episode of Season 1). Poppy Montgomery is eye candy as Sam Spade, but she's used effectively towards the end of the season, in much the same way as she was in Season 1. Speaking of Season 1, I have to say that I thought the beginning of this season was somewhat of a let down after the end of Season 1 - they just didn't really continue where it left off and glossed over it, much like the end of Season 3/beginning of Season 4 of “Charmed”. What's wrong with the writers, do they forget what happened and sort of shoe-horn it in? So much for “continuity”, I suppose. Still, the 24 episodes that are here are very enjoyable, although, like C.S.I, it can get a little repetitive and again, the character development and arcs are sadly very few and far between.
This however is a great little show and if you enjoy C.S.I. or other similar crime-related shows, you really should pick this up.
Subsequently to when I wrote this, it is worth mentioning here that this is the season which contains the "infamous" teenage orgy episode that cost the network dearly when showing this. I don't know if the boxset will now be edited, but the version I have was before this judgement.