The Good

A well written show that pushes the boundaries of the one hour TV genre.

The Bad

Not that many extra features.

Without a Trace: The Complete Second Season sees Jack Malone (Anthony LaPaglia), Samantha Spade (Poppy Montgomery), Vivian Johnson (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), Danny Taylor (Enrique Murciano) and Martin Fitzgerald (Eric Close) solving cases that seem all but impossible and byzantine in their complexity. It is through the work that these people do that we learn about them is human beings. Their faults, their triumphs, their achilles heels, everything. Focusing this show on an FBI organization that deals with some of the most bizarre cases really makes for interesting subject matter.

Some of the episodes that stand out in my mind are "Confidence" which looks at a woman who has all these people investing in her business proposals, yet suddenly it seems like she has a past that is littered with fraudulent activity. Malone and his team suddenly have to decide just how legitimate this person is. "Sons and Daughters" examines the dark underworld of suburbia. Everything seems perfect here but once Malone and Co. get involved, we suddenly see the debauchery and ill behavior happening behind closed doors. Lastly, the episode "Wannabe" is both brilliant and frightening at the same time. It examines a boy who was bullied in a horrifying way and the episode was so powerful it's being used in classrooms to show kids how not to act.

Without a Trace: The Complete Second Season is another example of television taken seriously and done very well.

Features

Missing Evidence

Okay, I could lambast this 6 disc release because it doesn't have a lot of extra features. At least not a lot that are listed out on the packaging, and that could turn off some consumers who might think that Warner Bros. is trying to get something over on them. However, what Missing Evidence is referring to is a litany of deleted scenes. There are so many scenes on here there are probably at least 3 other shows in this already lengthy 24 episode set. Also, these scenes aren't just thrown together. They are well compressed, nicely edited and really only seem like they were cut because they played in a superfluous manner.

Video

Widescreen Version. Presented in a "Matted" widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of it's original television exhibition. Enhanced for widescreen TVs. Now this is a TV show that if you have an amazing system, you will want to own. I was blown away by how awesome this show looked on these discs. The reds were really red, the greens super green, etc.... In fact, this was the first time in watching a show from the 21st Century, that I was reminded of how TV looked when it was first transferred from black and white into the color format.

Audio

Dolby Digital. English: Dolby Surround Stereo. The audio on this show was also top notch. I didn't hear anything that I felt was that special, I just liked the fullness of how everything was put together. The sound was layered but not in a way that seemed artificial or was meant to create an emotional effect. I also really thought the dialogue was solid and I didn't feel that the actors were being melodramatic in their deliveries. Overall, Without a Trace: The Complete Second Season is a well put together package.

Package

Fragmented shots of all the cast members mixed in with images from the show make up this front cover. There is a weird mixture of colors that isn't pretty but it is eye-catching. The back portion of this DVD continued this color scheme and contains more pictures, a succinct description of this show, a Special Features listing, a credits list, and technical specs. The six discs that make up this set are stored in three slim cases, that all fit really nicely into it's sturdy slipcase cover. On the cases is some more artwork, as well as episode listings, descriptions and airdates placed all around the cases pertaining to the two discs enclosed inside each.

Final Word

As a big fan of Anthony LaPaglia, I jumped at the opportunity to review this show. While in a lot of ways it's not too much different than other procedurals out there (and sometimes I thought it tried to get too flashy visually), Without a Trace works because it really tells interesting stories. It is topical (dealing with episodes in Iraq), but also delves into the social stratosphere with episodes like "Wannabe" and "Lost and Found." The stories all move at a quick pace but I never felt like any information was being sacrificed. Also, the fact that we get to see the agents personal lives, adds a certain layer to their characters because we get a more well rounded picture of just who these people are.

I had heard about this show and I never really watched it just because I don't watch a lot of current TV on TV. I am big fan of channels showing classic programming and especially the old procedurals like Perry Mason and Hawaii Five-O. I think that the creators of those shows would be very happy to welcome Without a Trace into the fold.

Without a Trace was released .