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August 15, 2010 Ariane 5 comments Reviews

Pilot Watch: ‘Body of Proof’

by Joel Keller
In our continuing effort to get you ready for the upcoming fall season, we’re previewing pilots that were sent to critics earlier this summer.


Keep in mind that in each case, our opinions are based on a pilot that could be completely recast and reworked between now and the fall. Some of those changes have already been announced.

Show: ‘Body of Proof’
Network: ABC
Timeslot: Fridays, 9PM ET

The lowdown: Four years after a horrific auto accident derailed her career, neurosurgeon Megan Hunt (Dana Delany) has found a new role in the Philadelphia medical examiner’s office. Tough and driven, she’s always put her career first, which is why she is divorced and not a big part of her daughter’s life. But in her new role, she’s determined to let the body she’s examining tell the entire story of how that person died, much to the annoyance of the cops she works with. She’s constantly being told where her boundaries are by her partner, investigator Peter Dunlop (Nicholas Bishop), a former cop. Her boss, De. Kate Murphy (Jeri Ryan) tries to keep Hunt in line while admiring her new hire’s determination and the fact that she gets results.

What we’re saying: When ‘Body of Proof’ paneled at the TCA press tour, Delany assured the critics that she did not look or act like Jack Klugman. But we all knew we were seeing a latter-day ‘Quincy’ in action, albeit with much nicer legs. Delany, as usual, is what makes the show attractive; she has a powerful presence, one that makes you want to root for Hunt even as she butts her nose into police investigations where she doesn’t belong. But even Delany’s charm can’t overcome some pretty slipshod writing in the pilot.

These characters are tropes that we’ve seen for years: the middle manager deputy (Winbdell Middlebrooks, best known from those Miller delivery man ads) who is constantly complaining about the budget Hunt’s spending and how no one takes him seriously; the crusty detective (John Carroll Lynch) who hates seeing this doctor interfering in his investigations, but begrudgingly follows her usually-good leads; the nervous young colleague (Geoffrey Arend) who thinks she’s a mentor. The only character that seems to be one that’s a bit unique is Ryan’s; she’s a boss who will go toe-to-toe with Hunt but also can sympathize with her plight of being a woman driven by her career aspirations.

The show needs to get away from the cliche, make Dr. Hunt wrong every so often (she nails bullseye after bullseye in the pilot), and examine more of her personal life if it’s going to rise to the force of Delany’s personality.