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Good Show, Bad Time Slot: A Little Testimony for NBC's Trauma

Anatasia Griffith, Cliff Curtiss, Trauma Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Awww...poor Trauma. All the other new NBC shows got full-season orders today, and Trauma was left out in the cold with, well, nothing.

We've seen a lot of ragging on this show, but we're willing to bet that most of the bloggers dissing it haven't actually seen Trauma since they screened the pilot they got in the mail six months ago. Why? Well, because Trauma airs at a 9 p.m. on Monday, opposite watercooler hits Gossip Girl, Dancing With the Stars and Big Bang Theory. Unless you are one of those rare birds with more than two TiVo tuners, Trauma's just not going to make it onto your radar or your regular TV schedule.

We were in the same boat, to be perfectly honest, but after catching a snippet on TV and being unexpectedly intrigued, we caught up with the first four eps of Trauma online (you can do the same via Hulu or Fancast) and by Jove, we think it's a pretty decent show.

We're here to ask you to give it a chance...

Trauma, an hour-long medical series about urban paramedics, is worth watching because it's familiar ER-esque TV remade with exterior location shots. And what superpretty location shots they are! Trauma films on location in San Francisco (a luxury indeed for TV production in this day and age), and they take full advantage of it. On Trauma, people are always falling down that city's famously steep hills or crashing their helicopters into buildings of the iconic skyline. 

Speaking of the crashes, the show does a great job with blowing stuff up, electrifying people, impaling them, organizing mass-casualty incidents and otherwise delivering an hour of pleasantly controlled mayhem. The show balances the grimness of, well, trauma, with enough genuinely satisfying and uplifting happy endings that you're happy to go through the drama to get there.

To put those happy endings in context—because lord knows those are out of fashion in the modern TV drama—you know how '80s-esque shows like Burn Notice were all the rage there for a while? Well, thanks to the percussion in the theme music and the style of storytelling, Trauma feels almost like a late '60s, early '70s-esque show (think Emergency! or Hawaii 5-0), and as far as throwbacks go, it's a darn pleasant experience.

But it's the characters that make any show, and there are a lot of characters to like on Trauma. The best character is Anastasia Griffith's Nancy Carnahan, who could be a doctor but refuses to go to med school for her own idiosyncratic reasons we haven't learned yet. Nancy is a crackerjack paramedic with any number of personal-life issues that she puts aside in order to better serve the good people of San Francisco. Imagine a blond version of Julianna Margulies' Carol Hathaway or Maura Tierney's Abby Lockhart.

Cliff Curtis is Rabbit Palchuk, the arrogant, angry, PTSD-suffering danger junkie who does the medevac-helicopter runs and who has a top-secret crush on Nancy (if our eyes do not deceive us). Think George Clooney's Doug Ross, all self-destructive and sexy.

And Taylor Kinney is Glenn Morrison, the well-meaning but incompetent newbie paramedic who mostly just screws up his partner Nancy's work life and/or spends his time pissing off Rabbit. We don't actually like him—he's Noah Wyle's John Carter with no charm, no skills and a too-pretty face—but we want to know what happens to him next.

Trauma, Derek Luke NBC Photo: Chris Haston

And last but not least, Kevin Rankin (yes, the awesome Kevin Rankin whom you know and love from a lot of stuff but mostly Friday Night Lights) plays snarky ambulance driver Tyler Briggs. He's just all kinds of Kevin Rankin-y awesome, and he's a great foil for his partner, Derek Luke's earnest Cameron Boone.

Look, Trauma will not change your life. It's a fairly by-the-numbers network series, and it's definitely no Pushing Daisies/Friday Night Lights/30 Rock/Sons of Anarchy/Veronica Mars, so we're not going to force the issue. But as far as TV shows go, it is a relatively good way to spend an hour of your life, and we'd love to see it stick around longer than a few more weeks. (It's all but guaranteed cancellation if the ratings stay where they are.) 

Please give it a shot, if you can? Trauma should be a crappy discard from the bad, bad, bad Ben Silverman era of NBC TV, but we've found it to be an unexpectedly pleasant and high-quality program with exciting action; well-acted, smartly written character development; and some really nice humor.

Please reconsider your blanket dismissal of the series and watch at least one episode before you write off Trauma completely.

(And not one word from you Chuck partisans! We love Chuck, too, but it will be back in no time at all, and assassinating poor Trauma in no way, shape or form guarantees that you will get Zachary Levi back on your TV faster.)

OK, that's all for this "the more you know about TV" public-service announcement. Thanks for your time and enjoy your weekend!

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