'Traffic: The Miniseries' **** 030205
DVD Review(2004)

The Work = ****
'Traffic' the American miniseries manages to be as moving and as well made if not more so than it's more renowned counterpart, the American film, 'Traffic'. That film was, in fact, a remake or reinvention of a British TV miniseries of the same name. I enjoyed the American film for its style and look. I loved a few of the story arcs in it but had gripes with some of the others. I still have not seen the British series but have been told it bears a strong resemblance to the American film.

The American miniseries manages to emulate the style of the film while still being fresh and taking the story in a completely different direction. The film is presented as several intertwining stories involving drugs, their use and their sales. In this miniseries drugs are only part of the equation. Made in a post 9/11 America, the series uses the drug trade (this time in Afghanistan) as a back drop but also looks at the trade of people and weapons.

Elias Koteas and Martin Donovan play DEA agents in Afghanistan struggling to get a handle on the drug market. Koteas especially, has a weary look that speaks for the progress the DEA is making in the country. Back in the States another story ark follows Kotea's wife and young son, struggling to be a family with a father who exists only over the phone. Another arc involves a father and son in the shipping business and their ties to local crime organizations. Yet another arc shows an illegal immigrant struggling to work and bring his family to America.

By the end of 'Traffic' all the stories had at least a loose connection and still remained strong in their own right. Without giving anything away I can say that this was a moving and at times extremely sad film that looked at trafficking and what it is and who it affects with a broad lens. The Koteas arc seems like the center (which I guess has a similarity to Bennicio Del Torro's in the film version) and really holds this series together.

'Traffic: The Miniseries' did have a few moments that I felt were missteps and does slow down at points. I should mention that since this was filmed as a miniseries it has a long running time so you may not get through it all in one sitting. Fortunately, it has a natural cliff-hanger type stopping point in the middle that made itching to watch more. The first half of the series is on one DVD and the second is on another.

DVD = ***

The Look:
The picture looked good with strong colors and sharp images. The series uses a distorted look for a lot of the sequences similar to the film version and the DVD transfer handled it well. Universal has thankfully presented the series in it's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

The Sound:
The soundtrack came through clear and especially the score sounded excellent. A good mix, that handles a variety of different types of sound scapes. There are English and Spanish 2.0 tracks on the DVD. English closed captions for the hearing impaired and subititles in Spanish and French are also on the disc.

The Bonus:
Welp', what the hell? You get chapter stops, menus, and the series is billed as a director's cut and that's all you get. (I did not see the series when it originally aired so I can't speak to the differences other than one topless shot of a girl that I can guess was not in the series when it aired on TV.)

All together = ****
This is a great series that I love as much if not more than the film that was its inspiration. 'Traffic: The Miniseries' takes what could have been a poor remake and instead opts to do something completely new. Universal is to be faulted for providing no special features. There needs to be a new release of this wonderful series that is feature laden and has the involvement of its creators. Until then it is a definite rental and a probable purchase. Yes, the show has some flaws but it's pros more than make up for it. I say check it out! If you really don't want to spend the bread on a bare bones DVD release than at least give it a rental.


'Traffic: The Miniseries' Links:


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