- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2009

Choppers fall from the sky! Oil tankers explode on the freeway! Blood! More explosions!

That’s what viewers get in just the first half hour of “Trauma,” premiering Monday at 9 p.m. on NBC.

“Trauma” is a big-budget action movie boiled down into an hourlong drama. The problem with it is that beyond the action-flick-worthy theatrics, there is not much of a story.

The show, produced by Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”), is about a team of San Francisco helicopter and ambulance paramedics. Obviously, the urgent pace is meant to fill in the gap created when “ER” left NBC last spring after 15 years. But “Trauma” lacks the storytelling that was at the heart of “ER.” The long-running hospital show had characters worth caring about, with action sequences woven in to keep it exciting.

“Trauma” is just the opposite. The series opens on the roof of a San Francisco skyscraper, where a man has been electrocuted. The very pretty paramedic crew flies in to save him but on the way out hits another chopper in an explosion worthy of “Star Wars.”

Fast forward to a year later, where for some of the medics it is business as usual. Others, though, are having a tough time.

It’s hard to keep who’s who straight. There’s Nancy, the blond paramedic who was left on the roof to witness the big crash. There’s an arrogant paramedic named Rabbit (Cliff Curtis) and a cute rookie named Marisa (Aimee Garcia), who tells off Rabbit after he nearly kills them in traffic.

“I can’t die,” Rabbit tells her as he barrels through the streets of San Francisco. “I’ve survived hell and fire. I should be dead and crispy. But I am still here.”

Says Marisa, after she’s forced to literally clean up the damage (Be forewarned: The scene is not for the squeamish) from the rogue ride: “You are really good at medicine, but you are an irresponsible idiot. Maybe you can’t die … but I can!”

With dopey dialogue like that, the show likely will be, too.

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