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Friday, April 1, 2011

JWTV Quickie: Body of Proof - "Pilot"

     When we last saw Dana Delany, she was leaving Desperate Housewives' Wisteria Lane with a female lover, not long after she matched wits with Castle on Castle. I guess it should be no surprise, then, that the star is popping back up on ABC. This time, in Body of Proof, Delany plays Dr. Megan Hunt, a medical examiner who used to be a neurosurgeon, until she was in a car wreck, and could no longer live with the guilt of killing anyone. Plus, her hand goes numb. Now Hunt cares, something she didn't use to do, so she goes out of her way and solves the crimes that result in the victims she examines.

     Does Megan step outside the purview of her occupation? Possibly, but I don't hear Detective Bud Morris (John Carroll Lynch, The Drew Carey Show, Close to Home), whom clashes with Hunt throughout the case, complain when she helps him catch the killer. If you have a genius, use her. And make no mistake about it, Megan is a genius. Which is why her boss, Dr. Kate Murphy (Jeri Ryan, Star Trek: Voyager, Shark), lets her get away with spending a huge portion of the department's budget. Also, I'm guessing, why Bud will be using her again and again, since he's listed as a main character.

     Now I could tell you the basic story of Body of Proof's "Pilot", but if you've watched one of the gazillions of other crime-related procedurals currently running, you pretty much know how it goes down. Megan is a mix of House's House, Castle's Castle, and Bones's Brennan, three of the best offerings in the genre. She is very intelligent, doesn't have much respect for authority or rules, but gets away with it because she helps bring justice to the world. If this show succeeds, and the high ratings it racked up during last night's premiere are a good first step, it should not be because it masters a formula. We have more than enough shows that do that. I, for one, will not be watching if it relies too heavily on a case of the week format, though I'm willing to give the series a chance to prove itself before I tune out.

     No, what I want to see, and what I hope the writers deliver, is interesting characters. While I find Hunt's co-worker, Peter Dunlap (Nicholas Bishop, Home and Away) dull, and am not impressed with Bud's partner, Det. Sam Baker (Sonja Sohn, The Wire), I like Bud, Kate, and geeky mentee Ethan (Geoffrey Arend, Trust Me) just fine. I love 'why doesn't anyone call me Doctor' Curtis Brumfield (Windell Middlebrooks, Scrubs) even more, especially when he's ranting how Hunt shouldn't get the special priveleges that she does. Delany is fantastic as Hunt, bringing just the right amount of depth and layer. My heart breaks when she admits to losing her daughter for her career, and then losing her career. The only inauthentic moment of the entire hour is when, as shown in the preview, Hunt mouths off to Bud about being worse than he's heard.

     But my main concern, starting out, is I need to see plenty of Hunt's family. Todd (Jeffrey Nordling, 24, Dirt, Desperate Housewives) is a scheming jerk, keeping Hunt away from their daughter, telling Hunt not to even come to a birthday party. Or maybe he's not. Let's see more of their backstory! Maybe, considering Hunt's referenced past, he is justified in trying to keep sole custody, at least in regard to the old Hunt. Now Hunt wants to be there for Lacey (Mary Matilyn Mouser, Life is Wild), and if cake is any evidence, it's not too late. If the series can give enough time to personal details, it will be great.

     A special episode of Body of Proof will air this Sunday, and then the series returns to its normal time slot Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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