The premiere of ABC’s new series, Body of Proof [Tuesdays, 10/9C], presents as a procedural in which a crusty former neurosurgeon becomes a crusader medical examiner – a female Quincy, so to speak, but with fewer social graces and more intrusiveness. The situations which come up in the pilot are ludicrous but Delaney’s presence and will render them as acceptable as any forensic anthropologist teamed up with an FBI agent, or mystery novelist teamed up with a crack homicide detective.
The premiere deals with the murder of a jogger whose body is found in a marina – dead from blunt force trauma to the back of the head, and with traces of foam in her mouth. The ME, Dr. Megan Hunt [Delaney], is set up to be a kind of female Gregory House – someone whose job focus is so intense that, while she was still a neurosurgeon, she would up divorced and estranged from her daughter. The one thing she’s good at, now, is figuring out the stories of the murder victims she has come through the morgue.
In the course of her job, Dr. Hunt uses her colleagues – Dr. Elliott Gross [Geoffrey Arend] and Dr. Curtis Brumfield [Windell B. Middlebrooks] – as a kind of information gathering team [if she’s Holmes, they’re the Baker Street Irregulars] and runs roughshod over the series’ lead detective, Bud Morris [John Carroll Lynch]. Oddly, she seems to respect Morris’ partner, Detective Samantha Baker [Sonja Sohn] – a respect that is returned. She also gets along, more or less, with her boss, Dr. Kate Murphy [Jeri Ryan], who feels oddly protective of her. Her Watson is Peter Dunlap [Nicholas Bishop], a very intuitive guy whose nudging has her beginning to widen her focus to take in her colleagues
If House investigated murders, perhaps that show would look like this – lots of obscure evidence that is of significance to Hunt; lots of intricate plot fillips and peculiar details that only she can put together. At least, that’s what the pilot – which features Delaney in virtually every scene – would have us believe.
Fortunately, ABC provided a couple more eps to reviewers so I can say that Hunt becomes a bit more human as the series progresses. In subsequent eps, she reconnects with her daughter [‘Talking Heads’] as she becomes the subject of a class assignment about a parent’s job and discovers that she was a positive influence on a murder victim several years before [‘Helping Hand’] – not to mention what she learns about Detective Morris.
Body of Proof is a slick, entertaining procedural that gives Dana Delaney an opportunity to shine. She, in turn, draws us in to the point where we barely even notice how preposterous the show’s premise is. This is one star vehicle that showcases a real star – and that star makes it worth watching.
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Photo by Donna Svennevik/Courtesy of ABC