Given the 9 p.m. Monday pile-up that results when ABC puts two hours of Dancing With The Stars up against EW reader-faves Gossip Girl and Greek, I’m really curious whether anyone opted for either the new NBC things-go-boom show Trauma or the second-season premiere of Fox’s I-can-read-your-face drama Lie To Me.

Lie To Me had the advantage of following the hit House; Trauma had the advantage of… um, nothing. (Heroes isn’t a helpful ratings lead-in, and I got off that particular superhero train a while ago anyway: Anyone think I should I re-board?)

I watched Lie To Me because Shawn Ryan, who oversaw The Shield, that piercing bullet of excellence, has joined the Lie staff. I wanted to see if I could detect an uptick in quality in what had been, last season, your basic variation on (well, whattya know) House: know-it-all rule-breaker leads staff of contentious but attractive adepts.

Tim Roth’s Cal Lightman was no more or less wiseguy-intense than he’s been in the past, which was fine: I like Roth’s performance. It’s the plots and the pacing that hobble this series. The two subplots last night — Erika Christensen with multiple personalities witnessed a murder; Cal’s team vetted a potential Supreme Court judge — were ho-hum whenever they weren’t unbelievable. (Cal may be a vain smart-ass, but I don’t think even he would really assert, as he said, that he and his company alone held final power over the judge’s Court confirmation.) As for descrying the hand of Shawn Ryan, I didn’t. I’ll keep watching, though, for a while. Will you?

As for Trauma, I spent the first half wondering if I was ever going to like any of these people, and the second half of the hour deciding that I liked nearly all of them. That was between explosions, wrecks, and the aimless fireballs popping up behind these characters’ heads, courtesy of budget-busting CGI. Cliff Curtis, Anastasia Griffith, Derek Luke, and (yay, Friday Night Lights!) Kevin Rankin all withstood the overheated intensity of Trauma. I’m now curious enough, and intrigued enough by the behind-the-scenes presence of both Peter Berg and Jeffrey Reiner (I repeat: yay, Friday Night Lights!), to watch a second episode.

Would you?

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