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  • Series Premiere Date: Sep 1, 2002
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7
Without a Trace Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics What's this?

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  • Starring: Anthony LaPaglia, Eric Close, Poppy Montgomery
  • Summary: Without a Trace is a fast-paced procedural drama about the Missing Persons Squad of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The sole responsibility of the special task force is to find missing persons by applying advanced psychological profiling techniques to peel back the layers of the victims' lives and trace their whereabouts in an effort to discover whether they have been abducted, been murdered, committed suicide or simply run away. The team reconstructs a "Day of Disappearance" timeline that details every minute of the 24 hours prior to the disappearance, following one simple rule: learn who the victim is in order to learn where the victim is. Senior agent Jack Malone (Anthony LaPaglia) heads the dedicated team that knows too well that every second counts when someone vanishes. His squad includes Samantha Spade (Poppy Montgomery), an agent who doesn't let her good looks get in the way of being tough; Vivian Johnson (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), a no-nonsense investigator; Danny Taylor (Enrique Murciano), an intense and private agent; and Martin Fitzgerald (Eric Close), the newest member of the team, considered a lightweight by the squad because his only experience involves fighting white-collar crime.

    In six seasons, much has happened. Martin Fitzgerald is no longer considered the lightweight he once was, having earned the respect of the team through his solid work. Jack Malone has been through many ups and downs and now finds himself in a bad position following the mishandling of a case. Vivian Johnson has proven herself, and a new agent has been welcomed into the ranks -- Elena Delgado (Roselyn Sánchez), a Hispanic female agent who came on in the program's fourth season as the squad faced ever-increasing demands on its time and resources. A former member of the NYPD, she is already known to Danny and their connection grows as the series progresses.

    Without a Trace aired Thursday nights on CBS from its premiere in 2002 until the 2006-2007 season. CBS moved it to Sunday nights for one season, before moving it back to its regular Thursday slot for season six. The program now airs in its new timeslot of Tuesdays at 10 P.M. Viewers can catch the seventh season of the program in this timeslot beginning September 23, 2008. Repeats of [i]Without a Trace[/i] also air regularly on TNT. The first and second seasons of the program have been released on DVD in the United States, with latter seasons available only in other markets.
  • Genre(s): Drama, Suspense
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: Hal Boedeker
    Jul 9, 2013
    Without a Trace uses the gimmick of having the missing person drop in and out of scenes like a ghost as the agents ponder evidence. The device sounds hokey; the way it works, it's stylish and involving. [26 Sep 2002]
  2. Reviewed by: Phil Rosenthal
    Jul 9, 2013
    As good a new drama as there is this fall. [19 Sep 2002]
  3. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Jun 14, 2013
    As uneven as it is, the series is now showcasing some of the best acting on television.
  4. 75
    The clipped dialogue, the scientific detecting, the camera tricks, the computer gamesmanship, the back-and-forth progression of the stories -- the bricks that really matter in the construction of a TV show -- are all quite the same [as CSI]. [26 Sep 2002]
  5. Reviewed by: Carina Chocano
    Jul 9, 2013
    'Without a Trace' adopts the requisite cop-show clipped pace and poker-faced acting, but the procedural approach is catchy. There’s something irresistible about a forensic drama that hooks you with hints at the ending and works backward from there.
  6. Reviewed by: David Zurawik
    Jul 9, 2013
    Without a Trace is an engaging and resonant adult drama, which means it is just the kind of series that should rate a rave, except for one thing. There is a decided drop in quality between the pilot and episode two. [26 Sep 2002]
  7. Reviewed by: Glenn Garvin
    Jul 9, 2013
    This is essentially CSI without the microscopes, petri dishes or Marg Helgenberger. Yawn. [26 Sep 2002]

See all 29 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Apr 2, 2013
    Trying to list all the procedural crime dramas that have graced our screens over the last twenty year would be a difficult task indeed with every angle from forensics to cold cases being covered somewhere along the line.

    Without a Trace focuses on an FBI team whose primary focus is missing persons' cases. With a strong cast and well written scripts it is certainly amongst the best of its genre, unfortunately it still suffers from many of the same issues as other procedurals. With cases having to be introduced and solved within the 45 minute time period each week we are never able to get the sort of in-depth look at the subject matter that shows such as The Wire and The Shield provide. This problem also applies to the characters themselves with the writers only ever making half-hearted attempts to delve into the personal lives and motivations of the law enforcement officers involved, why must two of the characters always have to had some sort of romantic past in this type of show?

    Too many cases also seem to involve a 'leap in logic' whereby someone will make a link they could not possible make based on a seemingly innocuous piece evidence or an irrelevant conversation in order to wrap everything up before the episode ends. Anyone that enjoys procedural crime dramas like CSI or Law and Order will certainly enjoy Without a Trace but with no ongoing plot to draw me back I have found there are far more interesting dramas, crime based or otherwise, available on DVD.