THE SHOW "Body of Proof"
WHEN | WHERE Tuesday night at 10 on ABC/7
REASON TO WATCH Dana Delany headlines her own series.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Dr. Megan Hunt (Delany) was chief of neurosurgery at a prominent Philadelphia hospital when her husband left her and took custody of their 7-year-old daughter. Then, the coup de grace: A car accident that left her with a condition (numbness) that led to the death of a patient on the operating table. She's forced to start a new career in the medical examiner's office because "you can't kill somebody if they're already dead." Hunt proceeds to butt heads with everyone -- notably chief of the ME's office, Dr. Kate Murphey (Jeri Ryan), and Det. Bud Morris (John Carroll Lynch). She's got sharp elbows and is not afraid to use 'em. She reads all the clues the dead body offers, or, as she puts it, "honor the body for what it tells me." Her hunky partner, Peter Dunlop (Nicolas Bishop) humors her.
MY SAY "Body of Proof" feels like a show that has nearly been nibbled to death by network ducks. You can almost see the TV executive Post-it notes on the screen: "Hunt's too mean . . . make her cry." Or "We need a cute daughter, stat." Or "Can we get a little less medical jargon in here, please?" The result is a formula procedural that's too often creatively timid and emotionally disconnected. "Body of Proof" wants to be "Bones" or "Castle" or "House" or even "Quincy, M.E." -- or maybe that's just what ABC wants it to be. The network's original bet, and a good one, was that a star with as much appeal and wattage as Delany should be able to sell a Gregory House-ian M.E. -- but focus groups may have said otherwise because, by three episodes in, she's downright cuddly and mawkish. Too bad.
BOTTOM LINE Delany and veterans like Lynch, "Star Trek: Voyager's" Ryan and "The Wire's" Sonja John (Det. Samantha Baker) could give "Body of Proof" an original voice in time -- if the ducks leave it alone.