Question: Are you as dissatisfied with this season's Without a Trace as I am? I noticed in one of your columns you mentioned their best episode was "A Day in the Life." I agree — it was the best episode this season, but how sad is it that it barely showed the five main characters? This writing has gone downhill. I can't blame the actors, because they've shown that when provided good material, they do very well. The Martin addiction story line is painfully clichéd and an almost blatant ER rip-off. They continue to underuse the two best actors on the show, Enrique Murciano and Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and they haven't found a way to fit Elena in without it seeming like she takes away from the established characters. I miss the way this show used to be. The characters used to interact with each other within the framework of the cases. Now they just interact in these "very special episodes" where they put characters through unrealistic personal plotlines or they don't interact at all, like ...
Question: I read that Without a Trace is adding a new female agent, to be played by Roselyn Sanchez, to the cast to fill in for the "crisis-plagued" team. My concern is why would the producers mess with one of the best ensembles on television? As it is, the five characters don't get enough airtime (especially Danny) because they deal with a case each week. Why would CBS make changes to a show that is more successful than it has ever been? It doesn't make sense. Casting sexy new "stunt" characters is usually for shows that are in trouble.
Answer: This year many of CBS' procedurals are adding new cast members, including a new female detective on the Cold Case team, and the way the producers have explained it to me is that it gives them more, not fewer, opportunities for stories and for ensemble interaction. I've seen a lot of mail from Trace fans in particular who get frustrated that the characters don't get more opportunity for juicy stories. That, in part, is why Marianne Jean-Baptiste
The crack FBI missing-persons team on Without a Trace may soon be missing one of their own. Vivian Johnson, the no-nonsense investigator played by Marianne Jean-Baptiste, might be killed off by season's end.
Earlier this year, Vivian was diagnosed with a serious heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes a thickening of the heart muscle and can lead to sudden death. The problem becomes critical when Vivian collapses on the side of the road in tonight's episode (10 pm/ET on CBS).
From then on, says series creator Hank Steinberg, "she will be home-ridden and coping with her future while [the squad] copes with the idea of not having her around." They may have to get used to that idea permanently.
"By the end of the season, she'll be angling toward surgery," hints Steinberg, "and potentially a life-and-death situation."
The story arc came about after Jean-Baptiste met w