With TV already dominated by crime scene investigators and overly sexed doctors, “Body of Proof” has a hard time carving out its own space. Though the premise is promising — a brilliant neurosurgeon is forced into the role of a medical examiner by injuries suffered from a car crash — the rest of the pilot falters. Most notably, the lead character, Dr. Megan Hunt (Dana Delany, “Desperate Housewives”), is a hastily thrown-together mess, frequently sputtering dialogue so painfully tired and overused it will make your ears bleed.
Body of Proof
Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
Hunt can’t seem to make up her mind on which stereotypical character from a medical or criminal procedural drama she wants to embody. She’s a character from a different show in every scene — from a snarky doctor with an inferiority complex (à la “House”), to a socially incompetent brainiac (“Bones”), to a tough cop out for justice (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”), to a woman dealing with a repressed love for her partner (“Castle”). Yet all these hopelessly hackneyed possibilities don’t save Hunt from acting like she’s walking around with a question mark over her head.
You know a show is bad when even a seasoned actress like Delany can’t quite pull off such a mundane character. There are moments where it seems that she might just break through the achingly awful dialogue and overly trite plot, but every attempt falls short of satisfactory. It’s a shame, given that a powerful female character spearheading a new series should have proved to be a refreshingly original change. Unfortunately, ABC made the misguided decision to place “Body of Proof” on Tuesday nights, thus pitting it against several female-targeted dramas, including “The Good Wife,” an already popular show featuring a strong female lead. Viewers won’t know where to turn, and will likely end up dismissing “Body of Proof” altogether.
The unfortunate time slot may prove to be the least of viewers’ worries, though. The multiple discrepancies put forth are tiresome at best and decidedly sloppy, even for a premiere. Hunt seems way too passionate about her medical examiner work, given that she’s been forced into it after losing the ability to perform what she really loves — neurosurgery. Even harder to understand is why Hunt believes she is an honorary detective, despite the lack of a badge or training.
Apparently, Hunt believes she can solve the case all by her lonesome, and her long gazes into empty spaces supposedly alert viewers to her brilliant deductive reasoning skills. And what do you know, as the episode draws to a close, Hunt smugly puts the final pieces in place and shoves her superior investigative work right in the detectives’ faces. By this time, there’s an almost visceral need to see both detectives tell Hunt to shut it and go back to her lab where she belongs.
The show may have started with an intriguing concept, and yes, Delany was a good choice for the role. But “Body of Proof” has to work harder to distinguish itself from the surplus of other dramas in its genre. If it hopes to stay afloat, it must attempt to carve out at least a few decent characters who are distinct in their own right, rather than borrowed from overworked, too-familiar stereotypes.
If “Body of Proof” can rise from the ashes of its burned-out pilot, it may hit a notch slightly above mediocre. However, finding enough viewers to stick around that long will prove to be a challenge.