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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this crime drama deals with sensational topics, many of which involve children and teens, such as abduction, molestation, child pornography, and infanticide. The regular characters also struggle with adult topics like adultery, divorce, addiction, and serious health problems, which may upset sensitive young viewers.
Without a Trace, but with a Mayra.
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What's the Story?
WITHOUT A TRACE follows the small team of FBI investigators on the Missing Persons Squad who step in when someone disappears mysteriously. Knowing that every second counts in an abduction, the crew works quickly to chart the missing person's activities during the previous 24 hours. This involves interviewing friends and family, checking into the person's financial and personal records, and searching for any clues that might reveal the circumstances of the disappearance. Storylines also explore team members' personal lives, such as division leader Jack Malone's (Anthony LaPaglia) divorce, the office romance of Samantha Spade (Poppy Montgomery) and Martin Fitzgerald (Eric Close), and the health scare of Vivian Johnson (Marianne Jean-Baptiste).
Is It Any Good?
This procedural drama follows a similar formula to many crime investigation shows and bears the slick, fast-paced mark of Jerry Bruckheimer, who produces this show as well as the popular shows CSI and Cold Case. Though Without a Trace's producers have clearly made attempts to deepen the show's characters, the show itself, while dark, stays pretty close to the surface. The storylines are predictably sensational, involving child abductions, accidental infanticide, and teen sex rings.
Moderate violence, sexual themes, and drug use with repercussions definitely make Without a Trace a show for older viewers. But even more distressing to young folks might be the storylines, which often involve children in disturbing situations, such as being snatched from their nanny, or dying from experimental medicine.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the rare nature of the cases that the show's team investigates. Under what circumstances do most people go missing? How safe do kids feel? Is there anything families can do to make everyone feel safer?
- Premiere date: September 26, 2002
- Cast: Anthony LaPaglia, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Poppy Montgomery
- Network: CBS
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: April 1, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Science prevails in mature, long-running crime procedural.
Law & Order
Dead bodies + courtroom drama = mature teens only.
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