The Warner Archive six-disc 24-episode DVD release of the 2008-09 seventh season of the Jerry Bruckheimer procedural "Without a Trace" allows fans veteran and rookie alike to complete their collection of this well-produced drama without an extensive hunt.
These stories revolve around the cases of the intrepid Missing Persons Squad in the New York City office of the FBI. One not-so unexpected spoiler is that this team always gets his or her man or woman.
The season opens with former leader Jack Malone, whom Anthony LaPaglia plays, working in a lesser capacity as a punishment for his maverick (but highly effective) methods. Steven Weber, who seems to be the 21st century version of the show freshening technique of adding Heather Locklear to the cast, portrays the new boss.
The following clip, courtesy of both YouTube and an obviously avid "Trace" fan, provides a sense of the tension between the former and current team leaders.
Equally cool things about "Trace" are that the missing persons of interest, rather than the FBI agents, are the primary centers of attention and that every investigation takes at least one well-executed turn that realistically relates to the probable circumstances regarding the disappearance. The mixture of happy, sad, and in-between resolutions is another good feature.
It is also nice that the series ends after it provides a solid block of episodes but before it becomes either stale and/or absurd. There are no musical episodes, guest appearances by Charo, or searches for Jimmy Hoffa.
The season premiere centers around the search for a man who understandably goes off the rails after his daughter disappears when he turns his back on her for the proverbial second. The twist in this one relates to this man becoming actively involved in searching for another missing child.
One outstanding episode among this group of very good ones centers around the teen-age son of fed. who investigates counterfeiting operations. Learning of the degree of the covert activity of this boy and the unexpected ultimate circumstances related to his going missing makes particularly good television.
The episode that follows this one is also noteworthy for placing Weber's Medina in especially strong conflict with the team that remains loyal to his predecessor. Diverting virtually every resource from a search for a woman who is likely at great risk of serious physical harm to look for a more newsworthy subject does not sit well with the group.
Other cases revolve around an arguably over-ambitious member of a local news team, a teen girl with ample daddy (and mommy) issues, and the owner of a religious statue that seems to miraculously cry.
The season (and the series) end on apt notes regarding both the case of the week and the personal stories of the agents. The final case is a particularly compelling one that starts with a man making an unusual (and creepy) find on a late-night dive and leads to a rather complex relationships and violent confrontations.
The stories of the agents end with satisfying resolutions of their personal relationships and a sense that at least some of them will continue springing into action when someone vanishes off the streets of New York.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Trace" is welcome to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.