Universal // 2009 // 767 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 10th, 2010
"Like an adrenaline shot to the heart." (Their words.)
NBC's latest stab at network drama relevance dips into that trusted well of Medical Action Show! and emerges with a sopping ball of boring.
The most dangerous city in the world? San Francisco, a lethal hellhole that makes Tikrit look like a Sandals destination. Almost daily, a horrifying accident happens that is typically accompanied by large explosions and screaming people. Thankfully, San Fran employs superheroes for first responders. Led by too-cool-for-school copter pilot Rabbit (Cliff Curtis), these pros hit the field running when a tragedy strikes. Even among the debris, severed limbs, and sporadic visual effects, they find time to talk about their feelings.
Full disclosure. I'm not a huge fan of medical dramas.
Well, House is the exception. But that's it. I have little use for these emaciated series, which seem to account for 80 percent of prime-time programming in any given season. If you're a fan, then my apologies in advance; hereas you might glean some value from Trauma, I was disinterested from the beginning.
The series pushes this cinematic disaster feel and last year's promos really emphasized the catastrophe angle. But peel away the brief glimpses of big special effects and large-scale disasters, and there's very little that differentiates Trauma from its brethren. There's still plenty of medical jargon, soap opera elements, and the occasional arterial spray.
I didn't really care about the characters. At all. The only guy who flirted with being interesting was Cliff Curtis's Rabbit, but that's mainly because the writers funneled as many quirks into him as possible: he's cocky, funny, popular, might be suffering from PTSD, involved in a steamy affair with his co-worker, and flies a cool helicopter around. Even with all that horsepower, Rabbit is merely "sorta interesting." Everyone else slides neatly into generic caricatures, like the clueless rookie, the sarcastic blonde bombshell, even a gay character who struggles with teaching life lessons to his goofy, hapless, confused co-worker. They each participate in standard-issue plot progressions, with the big cliffhanger being a romantic encounter that was telegraphed from the opening titles.
Finally, about the big action. I'll admit, for network TV, these guys can light off some nice pyrotechnics. The show starts off with a bang and a big-ass copter crash. Subsequent episodes feature bad airplane landings, car accidents, a freeway disaster, and some smaller calamities. The visual effects are obvious CGI, but it's decent quality stuff and more than suitable for prime-time. Too bad the aftermath is so paint-by-numbers.
Universal's four-disc set is serviceable, starting with a clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer (HD would likely be the preferred viewing for the mayhem, but this will do), buttressed by an active 5.1 surround mix. Extras: pilot commentary with the executive producers, and deleted scenes for each episode.
A nifty explosion here or there isn't enough to compensate for milquetoast everything else.
We're losing him!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 767 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentary
* Deleted Scenes