Should CBS be concerned that “Trauma” — developed from virtually the same petri dish as the Eye network’s new drama, “Miami Medical” — flatlined at NBC? Probably not, though the rejection of CBS’ transplant show “Three Rivers” might raise more serious concerns. Assessed on its own, this new show about trauma docs — adept at treating patients during “the golden hour,” those first moments after a serious mishap — has more in common with Jerry Bruckheimer’s crime procedurals than with medical fare, from the crackling visual style to the casting. Slickness alone, however, seems like a poor prescription for securing primetime longevity.
“Medical’s” foremost asset, actually, is the quality of its cast, although hiding “Swingtown’s” Anna Parrilla behind scrubs, a surgical mask and “What’s his blood pressure?” dialogue might be the equivalent of putting a race-car driver behind the wheel of a minivan.
The producers (the series was created by Jeffrey Lieber) don’t scrimp on the emotional manipulation, as the premiere features a pregnant woman injured in a spectacular crash, with a “B” plot about reattaching a severed hand. Tellingly, a second hour made available for preview opens with a chaotic shooting, placing the series squarely on “CSI’s” turf — only here, the victim actually has a shot at pulling through.
Starting with the bumpers illustrating the Miami setting (babes, beaches, blue water), everything about the show screams 1978 — from the attractive newbie (Elisabeth Harnois) to the maverick-y new veteran surgeon (Jeremy Northam), who must prove his mettle to his skeptical colleagues on the fly. Indeed, exhibiting an underlying anatomy unlike that of most current medical dramas, the series initially appears as lightly curious about its noble characters’ personal lives as “Law & Order” is.
The throwback quality also extends to the assumption that there’s enough of an audience Friday nights to support it. Then again, CBS has built a pretty impressive business around meat-and-potatoes TV served up in shiny locales, and the recession does seem to be keeping more people home.
In other words, the ingredients in this old-fashioned remedy have a modest shot at working, but if the network wants to find a critic who’ll deem such a mundane operation golden, it’ll have to seek a second opinion.