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DVD Review

Without a Trace
Season 4


Starring: Anthony LaPaglia, Poppy Montgomery, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Enrique Murciano and Eric Close
Warner Home Video
RRP: £49.99
Certificate: 15
Available 14 July 2008

In New York’s missing persons division John Michael Malone (Anthony LaPaglia) heads up an elite team who tracks the many people that go missing every year. The team use their expertise in psychological profiling to get beneath the skin of the missing person, hoping to discover whether they have voluntarily disappeared or met a foul end...

Without a Trace is a CBS show, created by Hank Steinberg, who had previously written and produced The Nine. The show first aired in 2002 and in its run has won fourteen awards and been nominated for many more. The season’s twenty-four episodes are spread over three discs.

Season Four opens with a recap of Season Three's cliffhanger - where the mercenary, Emil Dornvald, riddles Martin (Eric Close) and Danny’s (Enrique Murciano) car with bullets, leaving Martin for dead. In actual fact Martin has survived... just. The first episode sees him fighting for life. Although the two survive, the experience has left its mark upon them. Martin’s wounds lead him to become dependant on his painkillers, whilst Danny suffers the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

With the team fracturing, and at risk, help is drafted in in the shape of Elena Delgado (Roselyn Sanchez), who had previously worked vice. These events are dealt with in the first two episodes Showdown and Safe before the show settles back down to the missing person of the week format which had made it such a success.

In some of the shows the focus is on the interpersonal relationships of the characters, whilst others veer towards pure action. Although Without a Trace has elements of both, it is, at its heart, a police procedural show - though I have no idea how realistic the procedural aspect is. The department that they work for is fictitious with no corresponding department existing in real life, but that never stopped me enjoying Columbo either.

Each episode sees the team reconstructing the last twenty-four hours of a person's life prior to their disappearance - working on the principle that if you can learn who the missing person is then you can deduce where they are. As a principle it's full of holes, but as the underlying structure of the show it works surprisingly well. Their deductions are not always straight forward, nor are the missing always innocent

Although not as innovative as it could be Without a Trace remains a gripping drama series.


Charles Packer

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