We watch... so you don't have to.

The 'Without a Trace' Betting Game

We are big fans of Without A Trace in the Schmeiser-Michaels household. Insofar as procedural dramas goes, this one tends to be well-written, well-acted and beautifully shot and directed. It's one of the better shows on network television, and it's one of the few that's remained at a consistently high quality year in and year out.

However, we are prone to letting episodes pile up on the TiVo because in addition to being very well-written and well-acted and well-shot, Without A Trace is also very depressing. Any given episode includes things like tragic murders, tragic deaths or tragic comeuppances which prompt a death wish on someone's part. Invariably, the theme of the episode is "Once people discover your secrets, your life might as well be over." After an episode last season in which the missing woman (Elizabeth Pena) was shot by her brother, thus leaving her foster children to the vagaries of the social services, I curled up in the fetal position on the floor and refused to watch our remaining Without A Trace stockpile until the urge to end it all passed.

Fortunately, the Schmeiser-Michaels household has come up with a solution for TV drama trauma. Because TV drinking games are so dreadfully ubiquitous, we have elected not to go that route. Instead, we're turning to the vice of gambling. The rules are simple: before starting an episode of Without A Trace, turn to the other habitues of your gambling parlor -- or living room, whatever -- and ask the money question: "Alive or dead?" People state their options and lay down their money. At the end of the episode, at least one viewer will be happy.

If this simple wagering is too easy for you -- after all, it is akin to betting on a coin flip -- you can always make the rules more complicated. Some suggestions below:


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