Dr Megan Hunt was a high flying neurosurgeon, all driven and work obsessed but then she had an accident and was no longer able to operate. So she’s become a really bitter and obnoxious medical examiner spending more time connecting with her dead patients than she ever did with her living ones, or with her own family.
I’m not sure why this pilot has been held back so long. March is a funny time to launch something, everything else is building up for the end of their season, or just desperately trying to not get steam-rollered by the massive American Idol and Dancing With the Stars that monopolise the spring ratings. But here it is, Body of Proof, generally described as a ‘vehicle’ for Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives), meaning it’s a show designed entirely around her and all the other characters are just there to facilitate the plot and give her someone to rant at. Think House, but with better hair.
House has clearly made writers realise that it’s possible to create an obnoxious character and yet still have the audience root for them. Hunt is a bit of a cow – rude and abrasive, ignoring the rules of her job and polite society in a single minded drive to get to the answer. One of the things that this actually does BETTER than House is that the people around her that know her, kind of accept that. On House, particularly early on, everyone told House that he should change his methods, Cuddy shouting and stomping her high heels at him every time he did something crazy sounding. But by the end of each episode, the nay-sayers looked sheepish, only to repeat the rigmarole the following week. Why did they either not learn that he would be vindicated in the end, OR just sack him outright? Body of Proof sensibly confronts that, Dr Hunt’s boss smiles knowingly and lets her get on with it, Hunt herself says “you may not like my methods, but you’ll like my results”. It’s a lot more satisfying than watch people have the same argument over and over.
Unfortunately the writers don’t have quite the strength of their convictions that the House writers do. There’s almost an equal balance between the amount of time spent showing how hard the character is, and the amount spent trying to soften and explain those edges. Her family fell victim to her demanding previous career and now that she’s lost the job , she wants her family back. But of course that’s not easy, so there’s plenty of time spent staring mopingly at pictures and formulating speeches. It kind of works, but at the same time feels a bit too much like an apology.
Critics seem to be a bit harsh on this at the moment. I suspect the comparisons with House may have been too much for them, it’s not House, but then unlike most critics I don’t actually think House is that great a show either. Yes, there is better stuff out there, but Dana Delaney is a talented and interesting actress and this was a lot better than an awful lot of the procedural pilots I’ve seen in the last couple of years.
TV Addict: From its overtly formulaic write-by-numbers nature, to its insistence on beating you over the head with its premise, BODY OF PROOF just about encapsulates everything that is wrong with the way modern day network television works.
TV Squad : Despite all the show’s flaws, she makes some quieter emotional moments work, thanks to her undeniable presence and skills. The by-the-numbers vehicle that has been constructed around her isn’t worthy of her talent, however.