Without a Trace : Season 1

  • Network: CBS
  • Series Premiere Date: Sep 1, 2002
Season #: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29

Where To Watch

Stream On

Critic Reviews

  1. Orlando Sentinel
    Reviewed by: Hal Boedeker
    Jul 9, 2013
    100
    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. The Hollywood Reporter
    Jul 9, 2013
    90
    It commands attention without being heavy-handed and serves up characters who seamlessly and effectively blend into the hour's compelling framework. [26 Sep 2002]
  3. Washington Post
    Reviewed by: Tom Shales
    Jul 9, 2013
    90
    The caliber is very, very high, a gangbusters idea executed with skill and sensitivity. [26 Sep 2002]
  4. Chicago Sun-Times
    Reviewed by: Phil Rosenthal
    Jul 9, 2013
    90
    As good a new drama as there is this fall. [19 Sep 2002]
  5. Detroit Free Press
    Reviewed by: Mike Duffy
    Jul 9, 2013
    90
    "Without a Trace" matches and sometimes surpasses "CSI" for stylish visual storytelling as it builds a time line that pieces together details of the 24 hours prior to the subject's disappearance. [26 Sep 2002]
  6. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    Jul 9, 2013
    88
    You don't get the same kind of fun, gizmo fascination that livens up CSI. But you also don't get the leaden, expositionary dialogue CSI uses to explain those gizmos. [26 Sep 2002]
  7. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Jun 14, 2013
    83
    As uneven as it is, the series is now showcasing some of the best acting on television.
  8. San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times
    Reviewed by: Chuck Barney
    Jul 9, 2013
    80
    The show appears to be a perfect fit with "CSI" in that it similarly places more emphasis on procedural puzzles than personality.... But whereas "CSI" is all about the physical evidence, "Trace" is about psychological profiles. [26 Sep 2002]
  9. St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    Reviewed by: Gail Pennington
    Jul 9, 2013
    80
    "Without a Trace" offers sharp writing, stylish directing and a cast with real chemistry. [26 Sep 2002]
  10. The New York Times
    Reviewed by: Caryn James
    Jul 9, 2013
    80
    [A] sleekly made, absorbing series.
  11. Variety
    Reviewed by: Michael Speier
    Jul 9, 2013
    80
    Sleek and satisfying, Jerry Bruckheimer's latest is a compelling drama... The resolutions may sometimes be forced and the characterizations thin, but each episode still has a rhythm and a finality which brings to mind the exec producer's "CSI" in terms of ensemble performances and crimefighting handiwork. [23 Sep 2002]
  12. Deseret News
    Reviewed by: Scott D. Pierce
    Jul 9, 2013
    80
    What emerges is an engaging investigation that viewers will find themselves caught up in. [26 Sep 2002]
  13. Philadelphia Inquirer
    Reviewed by: Jonathan Storm
    Jul 9, 2013
    80
    It's well-made. [26 Sep 2002]
  14. San Diego Union-Tribune
    Reviewed by: Robert P. Laurence
    Jul 9, 2013
    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]
  15. San Francisco Chronicle
    Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Jul 9, 2013
    75
    A show that does what it's supposed to do -- keep you riveted and entertained. [25 Sep 2002]
  16. The Detroit News
    Reviewed by: Tom Long
    Jul 9, 2013
    75
    The potential for cop burnout exists with all the new crime shows this season, but "Trace" is among the most promising entries. [26 Sep 2002]
  17. Dallas Morning News
    Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Jul 9, 2013
    75
    Without a Trace ends up delivering enough twists and turns to hold up its end of the basic TV show-viewer contract. It also visits the cliche corral on occasion. [26 Sep 2002]
  18. Reviewed by: Carina Chocano
    Jul 9, 2013
    70
    '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.
  19. Baltimore Sun
    Reviewed by: David Zurawik
    Jul 9, 2013
    70
    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]
  20. Boston Globe
    Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Jul 9, 2013
    70
    It takes on a familiar formula with urgency and emotion. [26 Sep 2002]
  21. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Steve Johnson
    Jul 9, 2013
    70
    Attractive but not arty, intelligent but not brainy. [22 Sep 2002]
  22. Reviewed by: Howard Rosenberg
    Jul 9, 2013
    70
    This is nothing to build a night around. Yet the cast is good, action is crisp, flashbacks are seamlessly interwoven and dialogue is terse and effective.
  23. Newark Star-Ledger
    Reviewed by: Matt Zoller Seitz
    Jul 9, 2013
    70
    Has a fine, film noirish vibe and an irresistible mystery hook. [25 Sep 2002]
  24. Newsday
    Reviewed by: Noel Holston
    Jul 9, 2013
    70
    "Without a Trace" is about the work, about the puzzle. If you want the untidy cop stuff, stick with "NYPD Blue." [26 Sep 2002]
  25. Reviewed by: Terry Kelleher
    Jun 28, 2013
    67
    But even if the clipped dialogue sometimes suggests cop-show parody, the well-constructed mysteries give Without a Trace a strong foundation.
  26. Reviewed by: Linda Stasi
    Jul 9, 2013
    63
    Too bad the premise doesn't feel real.
User Score
5.5

Mixed or average reviews- based on 6 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 1
  2. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Apr 2, 2013
    6
    Trying to list all the procedural crime dramas that have graced our screens over the last twenty year would be a difficult task indeed withTrying 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.
    Full Review »