I am not ashamed to admit that I have a soft spot for underdogs. Especially ones that are actually entertaining and exhibit adequate promise. NBC’s Trauma, which revolves around a team of first responders and paramedics based in San Francisco, is one of those underdogs currently deserving of attention.
After a three-month absence (it would be a misnomer to call it a hiatus), the show returned with new episodes and very little promotion. Even dedicated fans were not sure that the series was back on the air. Therefore it was no surprise that the ratings for the past two episodes have not been very healthy. Last week was very low, but Monday’s numbers saw a decent gain, close to its pre-absence numbers. At this point it would be just too easy to use all the cliche expressions: Trauma is on life support, and Trauma needs ratings, stat! The truth is that when it first premiered it took the series several episodes to find its groove. It is now working like a good series should, with interesting characters facing personal challenges amidst their work environment which drives the action of the show. What started as a spectacle of explosions and stunts is now a good blend of action, drama and characters. That’s the good news. Unfortunately it might be a little too late since NBC has now halted production earlier than expected. And there have been other challenges along the way, so now is the time for a call to arms to help this series stay on the air.
This series has faced an uphill battle since the beginning with ratings consistently hovering around the 5.5 million mark. Part of the battle was brought on by NBC’s Leno experiment, which relegated this series to the 9:00 pm time slot on a highly competitive Monday, another part by the lead-in provided by a weakening Heroes, and still yet another by an over-abundance of medical dramas in the new season. ABC already had ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Private Practice’. CBS tried (but didn’t quite manage) to capitalize on the popularity of ex-Moonlight-vampire Alex O’Loughlin with ‘Three Rivers’. As if one new medical drama for NBC weren’t enough, it also offered up Mercy along with Trauma. To be fair though, ‘Mercy’ was slated as a mid-season show, which was moved up to the fall schedule due to unforeseen delays with ‘Parenthood’. And this list doesn’t even include the new medical shows on the cable side.
With the absence of the inimitable E.R., a void was left in the schedule that Trauma seemed poised to fill. The comparisons to E.R. have been inevitable but older viewers will tell you that the feel and format actually harkens back to the days of Emergency. While it may have had huge shoes to fill by stepping into the E.R. void, viewers who were already feeling the absence of their beloved E.R. would have been quite welcoming to a series of a similar genre in its place. It is unfortunate that Trauma could not be placed in the Thursday 10pm slot originally, and I question the logic of not testing it out in E.R.’s old time period now that the late-night ruckus has finally been sorted out.
Making matters even worse for the series was a three-month absence from our screens while rumors of its on-again/off-again cancellation were splattered on the entertainment sites. But the series was never truly cancelled and these rumors only made matters worse since no one wanted to invest any time getting attached to a series that was going to be taken away. It was simply a victim of NBC trying to figure out its next move. The series has remained in production all along… until this week.
NBC has not officially made a cancellation announcement, but it halted production of episodes 19 and 20, with the final touches being put on episode 18 this week. The creative team has had quite a challenge along the way in trying to bring the series to a satisfying close in the event of cancellation, first when they were told that episode 13 would be the last, then with episode 16, finally with episode 20, which has now become episode 18. The mood in San Francisco, where Trauma is filmed entirely, is now a bittersweet one. Cast and crew have put their hearts and souls into each episode despite the indecision of The Powers That Be.
The best thing that fans can do now is to send many postcards by snail mail directly to NBC letting them know that there is support for the show. A first wave of mail-in bandaids, a la Jericho nuts, has already been implemented. Of course, the thing that The Powers That Be will be looking at is The Numbers, which desperately need to go up. Regardless of how many viewers it can get right now, it is the ones labeled as Neilsen families that count. And perhaps through enough word of mouth, word can eventually get to some of those families. Also, anyone that can DVR or TIVO the show should do so, and then play it back that same evening before 3 am. Those numbers are figured in to the final Live+7 numbers and it is one way that all the viewers can count, not just the Neilsen families.
It appears there is a fat lady knocking on the door and warming up her vocal cords, but there is still a chance that the next few weeks will see a turnaround in those magical and antiquated ratings numbers. I certainly hope so. I don’t want to hold the DVDs in my hands in a few months and look back at this entertaining series in fondness of what could have been, being reminded of how NBC messed up in the handling of something so promising.
Fans have set up some contact info links with emails and addresses for anyone interested in helping the show survive. They can be found HERE
More info about the show is available here: http://www.nbc.com/trauma/
Trauma can be seen every Monday at 9:00 pm on NBC. Do not hesitate to give this underdog a try. It may not be the most riveting drama you’ve ever seen, but it is quite entertaining as far as the medical dramas go.