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Dana Delany’s ‘Body’ needs an overhaul

Dana Delany

By Pat Ryder

HollywoodNews.com: ABC’s new Dana Delany vehicle ‘Body of Proof’ premiered last night, and the series needs serious resuscitation to compete with 10 p.m. rivals ‘The Good Wife’ (CBS) and ‘Parenthood’ (NBC).

Delany stars as Megan Hunt, a bristly former neurosurgeon who became a medical examiner after an accident rendered her surgery skills ineffective.

Here’s the first flaw in the setup: doesn’t an ME still need to have steady hands when performing an autopsy? Or do we not care if evidence is destroyed by shaky incisions if the patient is already dead?

Viewers soon discover that in addition to being a brilliant former surgeon, Dr. Hunt appears to also be a brilliant detective – one that must have cut her teeth watching ‘Law and Order: Criminal Intent.’ Hunt is rarely in the lab, spending most of her time flat-footing it with the Philadelphia homicide squad and catching the murderer for them.

At first blush, the debut episode of ‘Body of Proof’ had enough going on to hold a viewer’s interest. And who doesn’t love Dana Delany? If anyone can make the viewer believe that Dr. Megan Hunt has the innate ability to read suspects like Vincent D’Onofrio’s Robert Goren, it’s Delany.

But when you take Delany out of the mix, the writing is weak and the characters seem badly drawn:

  • The murder case lacked suspense, nearly all the suspects were immediately unlikable and the ultimate conclusion unsatisfying.
  • Jeri Ryan is completely wasted in her minimal screen time as colorless Chief ME Kate Murphy.
  • Dr. Hunt’s partner, Medicolegal Investigator Peter Dunlop (played adequately by Nicholas Bishop), is an afterthought – merely used as a punching bag to reveal Hunt’s backstory.
  • The only character with as much bite as Hunt was Det. Bud Morris, played with verve and sarcasm by John Carroll Lynch.

As a big fan of procedural crime dramas like ‘Without a Trace’ and ‘Criminal Minds,’ I really wanted to love ‘Body of Proof’. But instead of a strong female coroner juggling work-life balance, Hunt’s ME is a strange hybrid of ‘House’ and popular 70s & 80s NBC series ‘Quincy.’

Do we really need a weekly show about a cranky and arrogant diagnostician who saves the day by solving complex murder mysteries and then goes home to an empty apartment?

The best parts of ‘‘Body of Proof‘ (other than Delany’s obvious talent) are the scenes in which Dr. Hunt interacted with her ex-husband and estranged daughter. Those glimpses into the workaholic’s personal life humanized her.

I hope ABC can inject a little more of that humanity into future episodes, and bring Dr. Hunt back down from the stratosphere of analyzing criminal behavior and motivation. Otherwise, just ship her off to Quantico, Va. so she can reinvent herself again as Special Agent Hunt.

2.5 out of 5 stars – all for Delany making the best of a tepid script.

Promotional photo by ABC.com

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2 Comments

  • March 30, 2011 | Permalink |

    My hubby and I really liked the show. We have not seen a lot of Dana in her past shows, and we are not huge fans of these types of shows, but we liked Dana and the show in general, and we plan on watching it again!!! Go Dana!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • March 30, 2011 | Permalink |

    Unfortunately it beat The Good Wife’s ratings. But that doesn’t mean it will keep viewers in the long run if it contunues to be subpar.

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