Saturday, March 09, 2013

TV Watch: Sure, it would be nice if ABC's "Body of Proof" was better, but sometimes you have to just take what they give you

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Season 3 of Body of Proof has brought a new pair of detectives, veteran Tommy Sullivan (Mark Valley, right) and young hotshot Adam Lucas (Elyes Gabel), working with medical examiner Megan Hunt (Dana Delany). Luscious Tommy, with whom Megan shares a past, replaces defunct liaison Peter Dunlap (Nicholas Bishop) as her "will they or won't they?" partner.

by Ken

On the whole, I have to say I'm happy to have Body of Proof back for a third season. I still wish the show were more involving, not to mention more believable. But then, when your central plot premise is a crime-solving coroner, plausibility may be a lost cause. The writers not only have to come up with weekly plotlines that allow for uncertainty in the M.E.'s office (of course usually it's Megan who creates the uncertainty) and also allows for amateur detection by a never-satisfied M.E.

Still, for two seasons it's worked, sort of. Is it necessary to restate what a compulsively watchable actress Dana Delany is? And she doesn't try to sugar-coat Megan, whose professional perfectionism leads her to play badly with others now that the combination of a patient catastrophe and her own physical incapacity have forced her out of her elite neurosurgical practice. It has been interesting to watch over two seasons as her fellow pathologist (and in fact onetime boss) Curtis Brumfield (Windell Middlebrooks) and vaguely though endearingly ditzy intern Ethan Gross (Geoffrey Arend, whom I've had to work hard to think of as anything but the husband of Mad Men's Joan, the overwhelming Christina Hendricks; in fact, though, he really is very good, even genuinely charming), and even a d├ętente of sorts with current chief M.E. Kate Murphy (Jeri Ryan).

Curtis (Windell D. Middlebrooks) and Ethan (Geoffrey Arend) engage in some nonmedical lab work.

Megan's domestic woes seem to me to have been quite credibly portrayed. In both the writing and the acting it was made crystal clear why she and her ex (the alas-now-gone Jeffrey Nordling, who looked incredibly hot, though that's not my point; I'm just saying) couldn't remain together, and the struggle for the allegiance of daughter Lacey, whose mother while a hoity-toity top-tier surgeon, was never available to her, made for a strong recurring plot line, and established the poverty of Megan's private life. Ironically, Megan's determined effort to rebuild the relationship, or rather to build a relationship, with Lacey has undercut this -- now we've got a pretty ordinary mom-plus-teen-daughter plot line, and Lacey's diabetes reduces the writers to creating plot lines like having wily malefactors kidnap Lacey and withhold her insulin in order to gain Megan's cooperation.

Which also suggests how far the writers are having to reach for plot ideas. This past week we got a pseudo-supernatural episode, with circumstances conspiring to make everyone think that supernatural factors were involved in the death of the meth-using oldest daughter of a crackpot-Christian father, played by White Collar's Tim DeKay, and very nicely played -- it was nice to see him get a change of pace. Naturally Megan had to keep reminding everyone in her office that they're scientists, and naturally they eventually found a nonsupernatural explanation. Along the way, though, it was interesting to see the various characters responding to the strangeness of the situation.

I know this doesn't sound like a wildly enthusiastic endorsement. But hey, what the show does, it does with a certain amount of honesty and a certain amount of respect for its characters. These days especially these are things that can't be counted on. (I could contrast certain HBO and Showtime so-called comedies, but I think I'll give that a rest this week.) I haven't reached the point of even thinking of not watching anymore.
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