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Watching TV: "Body of Proof"

By admin Published: March 29, 2011

By all accounts, I should like "Body of Proof," the ABC drama premiering tonight. The cast is full of people with impressive resumes, not only star Dana Delany but character actors John Carroll Lynch and Sonja Sohn. It has that "House"/"Lie to Me"/"Bones" thing of an extremely smart but socially challenged character trying to right wrongs -- and I watch all those shows I just mentioned -- but Delany plays her character with a benign cheerfulness that makes he seem even more intimidating than some of her TV predecessors; she's so smart that she is not so much contemptible of less knowing people as she is amused by them.*

But, having watched two episodes, I'm not in love with the show, and I don't feel much of an urge to keep watching. I will try to explain after the jump.

(*The scene in "Superman II" where one of the villains wonders if Superman views the earthlings as "like pets?" just came to mind. Although that's really more of a "Bones" moment.)

The show is earnest as all get out. Delany's character, Megan Hunt, is flawed but quickly given sympathetic aspects -- she's a medical examiner because an accident took away her ability to be a great neurosurgeon, she has a cold ex-husband. She is very devoted to the people whose deaths she has to investigate, not least because she feels at fault for the death of one of her old patients. And, like Temp Brennan, she wants to be better with people -- to not be as consumed by work as she was in her neurosurgeon days -- but she is not really sure how to go about it.

Yet, for all that, the show is pretty much a bore. One of the problems is not that Hunt is so smart but that the people around her are made to appear so not-smart; in both episodes, there are things she sees that others should also have noticed. There are scenes I don't believe -- ones where characters should be asking for lawyers, for instance -- and dialogue that can be pure tin. The cast feels underused, at least at first; Lynch's character gets more development in the second episode, but Sohn -- so good on "The Wire" -- seems to spend a lot of time on standing around and cop talk.

And now it sounds as if I didn't like the show. It's not that, either. It's more of a matter of the always-burning question: Is this worth DVR space, and will I get to it if I do record? After all, I'm far more likely to watch "The Good Wife" opposite it first. The answer to both is probably not. I would much rather have had more "Detroit 1-8-7."

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