March 12, 2007

DVD Review: Without a Trace - The Complete Second Season

This is a series that I watched for a short while during the first season. I found it to be an intriguing alternative to the burgeoning procedural glut that began, in earnest, with CSI. It is a show that steps away from the blood and guts, and into the more personal side of things. They often uncover secrets whose owners would prefer have stayed that way, or they expose the good in people, or uncover some other facet of a person's life. The series focuses on a specialized team of FBI agents in New York City whose sole purpose is to locate missing persons.

I mentioned that I had only watched for a small amount of time. I cannot recall exactly what the timeframe was, but I eventually struck it from my viewing schedule. It was not because I didn't like it, but due to the fact that my television addiction was taking up too much time and I had to trim somewhere, and since this was a more recent addition, it felt the axe fall upon it.

Now, I have had the opportunity to check out the second season episodes, and the quality has remained high from what I remember from the first season. Each episode offers a new story to tell, new people to meet, and new victims to try and find. We are taken into poor areas, rich mansions, and everywhere in between. We meet victims, and their families, who are guilty and culpable in their own disappearances, and those who are innocent bystanders, victim of circumstance.

Anthony Lapaglia is a formidable lead, starring as Jack Malone. He has a certain charisma about him that fits so right for the character. My one complaint is, another Jack? This has been the tough guy name du jour over the past few years, what with 24, Alias, and Lost, it has been quite popular among the macho set. The supporting cast is fine as well, in particular Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade (get it?), who is always striving to prove herself, despite a few set backs which she refuses to deal with. I only have problems with the characters played by Enrique Murciano and Eric Close, not because of bad acting, I just have problems, from time to time, telling them apart!

The stories themselves are always told rather stylishly and have a strong forward moment. There are not many moments for them to slow down and catch their breath. This leads to a show that is rarely dull and offers a lot of information to dwell on. Something else that it does quite well is the belnding of personal issues in with the professional. From Samantha's shooting, and subsequent issues in dealing with the incident, to a potential wrongful shooting that could have long lasting fallout.

Audio/Video. The series is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 1.78:1, with Dolby Digital surround audio. Both aspects look good, but neither will be winning any awards. It is high quality without being aw inspiring. The studio has done the show justice in its technical presentation, with solid colors and nicely mixed sound.

Extras. What? You wanted extras too? All you get are some deleted scenes. No commentaries, no featurettes, and no interviews. Something more would have been nice.

Bottomline. This series is easy to recommend. There are strong stories, good acting, and a fast paced environment that is easy to get sucked into. I just wish we had some more extras.



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