The danger with taking real-life cases and turning them into drama as cop shows often do, is that you end up with empty preaching and pandering to voyeurism. Thankfully that’s not what happened with the season five opener of the now-cancelled Bruckheimer drama Without A Trace. This 2006/07 series opener which was missed in the UK until its rerun on DVB television channel More4, brings a modern-day update to the Steven Stayner/Timmy White kidnap and rescue case of the early 1980s and with eerie timing, would have had its first UK showing a few months after the return of Shawn Hornbeck as well.
The central storyline is fictionalised to fit the general style of the show but doesn’t make reference to any B-plots from the previous year. Bruckheimer’s production simply cuts out the lost time to make it fit the 45 minute timeframe, although like P911 before it from Season 2 of Criminal Minds, there’s no scene of being reunited with the parents at the end, that’s left open-ended. The show will be on regular re-runs now which is how we caught up with it to watch it properly. There were other paedophile kidnap epsiodes in the show, most notably the very first one with a character that recurred later on, but it was good that Without A Trace retained the high quality which it would later apply to the Season six closing episode “Satellites” when handling child abuse issues in general. Hopefully other shows will retain this standard now that WAT has finished.