STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $59.98
RUNNING TIME: 1040 minutes
• "Missing Evidence": unaired scenes

The Pitch

FBI tracks down MIA SWFs, MDs, Ph.Ds, MILFs, etc.

The Humans

Anthony LaPaglia, Poppy Montgomery, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Enrique Murciano, Eric Close.

"Come on, Sen. Boyette’s body is in here somewhere!"
"Uh, boss, you sure you really want to find it? You know, considering…"
"Oh, uh right, let’s go check in a landfill or something…"

The Nutshell

FBI Agent Jack Malone runs the Bureau’s Missing Persons Squad and leads his team in only one thing: hunting down people who woke up disappeared. His team includes agents Sam Spade (no not that one, Poppy Montgomery), the tough bit of fluff, investigator Vivian Johnson (Jean-Baptiste), Danny Taylor (Murciano), and Martin Fitzgerald (Close). The show uses flashy (literally) timeline reconstruction to trace the footsteps of both the victims and the perps, frequently throwing in plot twists and mixing in some of the agents’ private lives into the mix.

"Yes hello, IMDB? Yeah, it’s Tony again. I was just checking on the status of that Father Dowling Mysteries credit deletion I inquired about…"

The Lowdown

Without A Trace is a pretty solid, if not entirely original show and it’s fairly easy to get into even if you’ve never seen previous seasons. I find it very similar to another CBS show, Cold Case, in terms of tone and storytelling method. The formula is pretty standard in every episode: you’re introduced to the person(s) who is set to go missing, then watch them fade from sight and the agents rush to catch up to them before it’s too late. They usually use a flowchart timeline to set things up and there’s a running tally of the time the person’s been missing. The missing persons range from a busload of kids (“The Bus”), a priest (“Revelations”), a teenage violinist (“Prodigy”), a Guatemalan kid (“A Tree Falls”), a sex addict (“Risen”), a paparazzo, (“Exposure”), a kid who’s not really missing, but whose past is (“Lost and Found”) a billionaire’s family (“Bait”), and so on and so forth. The stories range far and wide, but the formula is pretty reliable.

Without A Trace: any pure thoughts.

Lapaglia is also reliably good in the show and I was surprised by how much I’d lost track of him since his Barry “The Blade” Muldano days. He’s a long way from that character, and that character’s waistline, subsequently, but it’s all good), and here’s he’s the steadfast, no-bullshit anchor that all shows of this type generally have. I can’t say that there’s anything wrong with any of the characters, except for the fact that they don’t really stand out. You can pretty much find them in almost any other show of the same kind; NCIS, Criminal Minds, Cold Case, and any of the CSIs or Law and Orders come to mind off the top of my head. The resident cheesecake comes in the shapely form of Poppy Montgomery, and she deals with recovering from being shot in the previous season. And Eric Close is also good.

Yep, I knew Nick was guilty all along…

The show itself usually moves at a good clip and as mentioned, there’s a wide range of stories and different angles on the people who go missing. The writers for the most part do a good job of keeping you guessing about who the perps are and you can be guaranteed it’s not always who you think it’s going to be. So while the show isn’t particularly breaking new ground, say the way Boomtown did during its short run, it is well-put-together and an easy and satisfying watch. I was surprised that it’s already been on for five seasons. It’s like the time has just gone, poof, like one of the show’s characters.

The Waldo episode wasn’t that great to be honest.

The Package

The show looks good, and it frequently uses stark lighting, bordering frequently on halo-ish to set the mood. It’s in widescreen, which is pretty much the standard these days for good procedural dramas. No complaints on the sound either, with the boilerplate Dolby Surround Stereo. There’s only one special feature: “Missing Evidence”, which are deleted scenes from various episodes. At least they’re put with their respective episodes and not grouped together at the end of the last disc. A couple of commentaries would have been preferred, but they’re MIA as well.

"So you some big men? Huh? You some big men with a gun?"
"Dad, you’re scaring us…"

7.1 out of 10