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DVD Review: Body of Proof – The Complete First Season

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After stints on ABC’s Desperate Housewives and Castle, Dana Delaney finally gets her own series on the network with Body of Proof, which premiered last spring, and comes to DVD next Tuesday, September 20th. Delaney plays Dr. Megan Hunt, a medical examiner who used to be a neurosurgeon, until she is in a car wreck, and can no longer live with the guilt of killing anyone. Plus, her hand goes numb.

Now Hunt cares, something she didn’t use to do, so she goes out of her way and solves the crimes that result in the victims she examines. She is very intelligent, doesn’t have much respect for authority or rules, but gets away with it because she helps bring justice to the world. She is sort of a cross between House‘s House, Castle‘s Castle, and Bones‘s Brennan, three of the best offerings in the crime procedural genre, but Hunt doesn’t quite live up to the standards of any of the trio.

Make no mistake about it. Body of Proof does fit firmly into that crime procedural genre. Does Megan step outside the purview of her occupation, as she is only a medical examiner? Possibly, but I don’t hear Detectives Bud Morris (John Carroll Lynch, The Drew Carey Show, Close to Home) and Samantha Baker (Sonja Sohn, The Wire) complaining when she helps them catch yet another killer. If you have a genius, use her. And make no mistake about it, Megan is a genius.

Which is why her boss, Dr. Kate Murphy (Jeri Ryan, Star Trek: Voyager, Shark), lets Hunt get away with spending a huge portion of the department’s budget, despite the fact that she has many co-workers to share the money with.

There’s her partner, Peter (Nicholas Bishop, Past Life, Home and Away), who is generic and dull. Seriously, if Peter were to be replaced in season two with a similar looking guy, few would notice. Curtis (Windell D. Middlebrooks, The Suite Life on Deck, Scrubs) is often grumpy, but helpful, and has a contagious excitement when cases get interesting. Ethan (Geoffrey Arend, Trust Me, Daria) is an eager to please, still learning, underling, who frequently gets saddled with the crappy jobs. Considering that Curtis ranks above Megan, it may seem odd that he often ends up helping Ethan with said disgusting chores, but perhaps realizing Megan’s genius, Curtis only good-naturedly complains. None of these supporting players get much development in the freshman run, though the latter two show promise.

Finally, there’s Megan’s family. Her teenage daughter, Lacey (Mary Matilyn Mouser, Life Is Wild), whom she drives away during her surgeon days, is someone Hunt wants back in her life. Now that she seems to value more than her career, to which she still devotes most of her focus, she is trying to repair things with Lacey. Ex-husband, Todd (Jeffrey Nordling, Desperate Housewives, 24, Dirt), is another story, especially when, in the season finale, it is revealed that he is secretly involved with Kate. It’s just unnecessary melodrama, especially because Kate and Megan’s interactions are the best part of the series, and this revelation threatens that relationship.

In summary, Body of Proof does little to raise itself above its peers, of which there are many currently on television, and quite a few of them much better. With this talented cast, there is a chance that that might change in season two. After all, with only nine episodes in the initial run, the series is just finding its legs. Now it’s time to steer the show more character focused, and less about the case-of-the-week, if it wants to remain interesting.

The bonus features are, sadly, about as dry as the nine episodes in the DVD set. “Examining the Proof” spends ten and a half minutes assuring viewers that the science and medical details are real. It is commendable that the staff behind the series puts so much effort into authenticity, using consultants with wounds and terminology and even the set. But we get it already. Having the entire cast and a number of others keep telling us that is not needed.

“If Looks Could Kill” is a five and a half minute feature focusing on Roberta Haze’s costume design. Clearly, she is a legend in her arena. Her detailed explanation of how she differs Megan and Kate’s looks is interesting. But again, if one is not into clothes and fashion, this feature isn’t all that beneficial, and is worth skipping.

“Body of Goofs” is the mandatory (for ABC shows) blooper reel. Clocking in at over three and a half minutes, there is everything one would expect in such an extra. There are plenty of flubbed up jargon, and cast members screwing up lines. John Carroll Lynch, who opens the bit with an interview from his “dressing room pool” stands out as the most amusing part of the segment. But again, disappointing.

Finally, “New Evidence: A Sneak Peek at Season 2″ is simply a forty-five second commercial for the new season. Which begs the question, why word it so promisingly if it’s just a commercial? Viewers can see the same thing, or practically the same thing, on other venues. While not promoted as a bonus feature on the packaging, the title given the segment leads to a huge letdown when it is actually watched.

It’s hard to recommend Body of Proof: The Complete First Season on the aforementioned merits. It isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great. It falls somewhere in the middle of quality television. What will make the biggest turning point in deciding on whether or not to purchase a copy is how season two plays out. Until a few episodes get to air, I find myself ambivalent.

You can buy Body of Proof: The Complete First Season on DVD next Tuesday, September 20th, and watch new episodes Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, beginning the same day.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com