Review: Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes; Jerry Bruckheimer
interview; Commentary on pilot episode and a featurette.
EPISODE TITLES: Episodes titles: Pilot, Birthday Boy,
He Saw She Saw, Between The Cracks, Suspect, Silent Partner, Snatch
Back, Little Big Man, In Extremis, Midnight Sun, Maple Street,
Underground Railroad, Hang On To Me, The Friendly Skies, There
Goes the Bride, Clare De Lune, Kam Li, The Source, Victory For
Humanity, No Mas, Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been?, Fall Out
1, Fall Out 2.
THERE is one compelling reason to watch Without A Trace, the
latest slick police drama from the Jerry Bruckheimer stable, and
that's Anthony Lapaglia.
The Australian star has often been criminally overlooked as a
cinema actor - despite delivering scene-stealing turns wherever
possible - yet remains one of the brightest character actors of
Just witness his heartbreaking turn as a cop in Lantana,
or his charismatic lead in the second season of Steven Bochco's
under-rated legal drama, Murder
One, as examples of this.
With the pulling power of Bruckheimer behind him, however, Lapaglia
finally gets the platform his talents so richly deserve - and
boy does he take it.
Without A Trace is now one of the top-rated shows in American
television; one which is capable of rivalling CSI
for both quality and audience pulling power.
Yet it could so easily have turned into a lame cash-in of the
Law & Order/CSI brand.
With Lapaglia at the helm, however, Without A Trace quickly emerged
as a riveting take on the detective genre, tackling missing persons
cases in a fresh and often surprising way.
Lapaglia plays agent Jack Malone,
head of the missing persons unit of the FBI, which is also comprised
of 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.
In terms of demographic, it is almost too picture-perfect and
could have become irritating, particularly as the series, on the
whole, has that polished sheen of a Bruckheimer production.
But performance-wise, each cast member is spot on, with Malone
emerging as the no-nonsense, yet fiercely loyal father-figure,
who rates as one of the best ever to grace the detective genre.
Lapaglia was rightly rewarded with a Golden Globe win for best
actor after the first season of the series.
What's more, the stories were richly compelling and seldom afraid
to tackle difficult issues, including America, post-9/11 and taboo
subjects such as paedophilia and child abuse.
It may have lacked the out-and-out shock value of a HBO production,
such as The Sopranos, but in episodes such as He Saw She Saw
and the two-part season finale, Fall Out, it carried
quite a weighty emotional punch that didn't always need to deliver
a happy ending.
And while personal lives took a relative back seat to the case
of each week, audiences could quickly identify with and care for
each member of Malone's unit, meaning that much of the groundwork
had been laid for the second and third seasons that have followed.
Fans of the likes of CSI, Law & Order and NYPD
Blue are therefore urged to give this a try, especially if
they missed its Channel 4 run, while anyone who has been suitably
impressed anyway might like to add this box set to their collection.
It has to rate among US television at its very best.