Body of Proof

Body of Proof S1 E1

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As a big fan of crime shows, Alibi is the television channel for me. Usually it just gets the cast-offs and reruns (back-to-back Murder, She Wrote episodes for example) but just sometimes it strikes lucky by snapping up an American import everyone else has overlooked, such as the wonderful little gem that is Castle now getting slightly wider exposure by airing reruns on the terrestrial Channel 5.

Clearly they hope to reproduce that success with this latest recruit to their scheduled ranks; trouble is, Body of Proof is very … Plain. It’s not bad, indeed its perfectly proficient and solidly made. It’s just really very familiar and we’ve seen it done a lot more and a lot better elsewhere: it’s beige and vanilla in a world full of primary greens and pistachio.

The basic premise is that a brilliant but highly unlikable medical examiner annoys her colleagues and the detectives as she shows them all how it’s done. It’s sort of like House but with dead bodies instead of dying patients. The thing is, the main character Megan Hunt played by Dana Delany isn’t really all that unlikable, not when we’ve seen the truly anti-social (and sociopathic) Gregory House in all his utterly irremediable glory; she doesn’t even come close to being as unlikable even as Temperance Brennan is in Bones, and Tempe is really actually quite nice once you get under the autistic surface tendencies.

In this opening pilot episode, everyone tells Megan that she has to thaw out and get some friends. This, after we’ve already seen her emotionally reaching out to her estranged daughter and spilling out her backstory (conveniently for us) to her assistant/partner and evident future “unresolved sexual tension” object Peter; really if she was any more open, approachable and emotive she would be a walking, talking, emoting tearjerker cable movie-of-the-week, which is evidently what the producers of this show think should be “normal” for a woman. Well, maybe in the 50s … If they really want a “anti-social” and “difficult” brilliant ME-type then they should look at DVDs of the early Silent Witness shows with Amanda Burton’s Sam Ryan.

The rest of the cast seem similarly by-the-book cookie-cutter supporting characters for this type of procedural, with Zodiac’s John Carroll Lynch wasted playing a dull-witted cop doomed to be the Lestrade to Delaney’s Holmes. Oh, and there’s Jeri Ryan popping up as the tough boss to provide a little conflict into things in just the way she was supposed to in the James Woods legal show Shark – which come to think of it was another show with a clichéd brilliant-but-unlikable central character who was immediately watered down to be completely likeable in two seconds flat. Like Woods in Shark, Delany is clearly a very talented actor; but the basic premise of Body of Proof simply isn’t operating at anywhere near her level.

On the plus side, the murder mystery itself was interesting and inventive plotting may keep this afloat for a little while. It’s all certainly solidly made, as you’d expect for a US network show. But without the ensemble cast and compelling central characters of, say, Bones, The Mentalist, Castle, House et al this really doesn’t have any claim to hold our attention for an hour per week.

The whole thing is just flatly familiar and unoriginal and to be honest, in this day and age of cut-throat competition to get a show made and on air, I’m very surprised that this did anything eye-catching enough to merit its production in the first place.