Trauma: “Bad Day At Work”

The funny thing about Trauma is that even though the show is only about a month old, it has already hit a good level of consistency. Consistency is important for procedurals in their first few years; the challenge is to present chaotic situations and find a way to balance them out with a dependable but still reasonably intriguing dramatic interplay between the major characters. I don’t know what better way to put it than, Trauma is doing it’s job.

I have same complaint about “Bad Day At Work” that I’ve had about every episode so far, and that I’m likely to have about every episode yet to come. I do not like the sheer volume of medical emergencies in every episode. By the second half there’s always one major, multi-ambulance crisis to bring everything together and stir up some real excitement. The first quarter of the show, though, is a frenzy of brief EMS stops that is barely more detailed than a montage. Maybe I’m just protesting a change from the two-case-per CSI episode formula that I’m used to. But, really, five cases over an entire episode does seem a bit excessive.

The major crisis in “Bad Day At Work” was quite excellent in it’s own right, however. There are few things more jarring than a series of point-blank shootings by a blank-faced firee. And the whole concept of Tactical EMT work was completely new to me. The process of the job is much more fascinating than I’d ever thought – not that I’ve thought much, mind you. But there’s a real drama and urgency to it that has much more vitality than investigation of an already-completed murder. Putting Boone’s wife right in the thick of things didn’t really work in terms of getting me more emotionally invested in that relationship. What her presence and her breakdown did was to reallly demonstrate just how amazing EMTs are in situations that would render most people useless. One of the major functions of procedurals has been to garner respect for people in tough and often underappreciated lines of work, and Trauma is certainly doing more than its share for EMTs.

Also developed further in this episode was what will no doubt prove to be an incredibly complicated relationship between Rabbit and Nancy. The first episode, it seemed a little forced to me. Now that the characters are a bit more filled out, it’s starting to gel more. I’m still a bit on the fence in terms of how I feel about this particular plot element. I could learn to love it though. And goodness knows we can’t have a show without at least one tense, complicated relationship that just goes on and on without resolution forever. (And I do mean that in the best possible way.)

My last thought about “Bad Day At Work” was actually my first while I was watching: Eyeballs are really, REALLY disgusting.

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