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This Fall Season, Trauma is the New Law

August 18, 2009

If you’ve watched NBC at any point in the, oh, last three months, you’ve no doubt had your eyeballs blown out by NBC’s new uber-exciting explosionfest: the upcoming fall series Trauma. Children will be rescued from things! Cars will blow up! A gung-ho chopper pilot, clearly channeling Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now, will extol how he loves this insanely depressing job!

NBC, you may remember, had a little show called E.R. on for a few years. Yeah, it was pretty popular. And if you were an avid E.R. watcher, you also without question picked up on the program’s secret trick that it pulled out whenever things got dull — Tonight on NBC, an explosion rocks the E.R.! Yes, the medical drama’s showrunners clearly came from a place and time where hospitals were combusting all over the place, and never failed to bring that incendiary excitement to the small screen whenever Noah Wyle got too brooding for the Nielsen ratings.

Now, with E.R. gone, NBC has decided to kick it up a notch. Somewhere, an NBC executive asked the one question that no one had yet to ask: Is there any realm of medical profession where there are just inherently a lot of explosions? I like to imagine that at that moment, everyone’s eyes grew large, and the sounds of slot machines and cash registers filled the room, and someone piped up and asked “how about paramedics?”

The next day, in a CBS meeting across town, a young development exec wowed a room full of his colleagues with a tale of how he was out smashed and dancing at Vanguard on Hollywood Boulevard the night before when he ran into a fellow development executive from a rival network, who let slide about a big new show on trauma doctors.

“Head it off at the pass!” came the clarion call from CBS. “One-up them!” And thus was born another trauma program. What’s the difference? This one’s not only got explosions — but bikinis too. Behold, CBS’ Miami Trauma. It’s like NBC’s Trauma, only with less clothes and more hot clubs! Blunt force to the head has never sizzled like this!

Thus, we as a society went from no shows about trauma to two. This fall will see damaged, scarred medical loners like never before, shedding silent tears to music by The Fray and finding solace in one another’s arms after seeing horrible things all day long. Maybe there will be a young intern who just can’t take it, who’s just not tough enough. Perhaps we’ll see a jaded British or Eastern European (French doesn’t play well in prime time) doc who yearns to save everyone, but can’t save everyone, and rages against a world cursed by violence. Maybe we won’t just see explosions of the tractor-trailer variety, but explosions of the heart.

This fall, prepare to look at trauma like you’ve never seen it before. Apparently, whenever you want. Because you sure are going to get trauma both barrels. That is, unless ABC is secretly preparing its own secret weapon in the war: Malibu Trauma Forensics Starring Sam Waterston. Your move, ABC. How badly do you want this?

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