‘Body of Proof’ another routine trip to the doctor

Dana Delany plays a neurosurgeon who becomes a medical examiner after a car accident. Dana Delany plays a neurosurgeon who becomes a medical examiner after a car accident. (Claire Folger/ABC)
By Matthew Gilbert
Globe Staff / March 29, 2011

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Watching “Body of Proof’’ is like walking a path you’ve walked so many times you don’t even need to look where you’re going. You just need to keep good company, so you’ll at least be distracted from the monotony while you’re on autopilot.

So if you love Dana Delany, and enjoy spending time with her no matter what the context, then you might be willing to tolerate the mind-numbing familiarity of her new show. You might find her an interesting enough walking partner, as you move through all the painfully stock sights. “Body of Proof,’’ which premieres tonight at 10 on Channel 5, is a boilerplate medical procedural that offers absolutely no surprises — no unseen plot twists, no juicy issues, no charming banter, no nothing. Just a star trying to act her way through scripts that seem built to sabotage her efforts.

The show is meant to be a variation on “House,’’ since Delany’s Dr. Megan Hunt is a brilliant grump. She’s smug and abrasive, but, of course, she is always right. A former neurosurgeon, she grudgingly became a Philadelphia medical examiner after a car accident left her with shaky hands. Now, to keep herself interested in her work, she solves crimes based on her examinations of the corpses. As she tells anyone around her who will listen, “I honor the body for what it tells me.’’ She gets involved in the homicide investigations of detectives Bud (John Carroll Lynch) and Samantha (Sonja Sohn), where she constantly annoys them by flaunting her deductive skills. She also faces off with her boss, Kate (Jeri Ryan).

Megan is a workaholic, which has led to an estrangement from her daughter and her ex-husband, who has full custody. So while she is all steely intelligence at work, she’s a bit of a mess when it comes to her personal life. In a rare moment of vulnerability, she shares some of her woes with her medical investigator colleague Peter (Nicholas Bishop), a former cop. He advises her to reach out to her daughter, which, apparently, despite all of her brain power, never quite occurred to her.

It’s too bad “Body of Proof’’ is so unambitious and, at times, clumsy, as it goes through the motions of solving murder mysteries. If the writing were fresher, Delany might have a better chance of finally creating a dynamic and successful drama after a few bungles including “Presidio Med,’’ “Kidnapped,’’ and “Pasadena.’’ It’s not impossible to take the procedural formula and give it a shot of good energy; shows such as “The Closer’’ and “The Mentalist’’ have succeeded in tricking up an old genre. Ultimately, I like Delany OK, but not enough to stick with her through her new show. There’s just not enough life in this “House.’’

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at For more on TV, visit blog/.


Starring: Dana Delany, Jeri Ryan, John Carroll Lynch, Nicholas Bishop, Sonja Sohn

On: ABC, Channel 5

Time: Tonight, 10-11