PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Television

'Body of Proof' Series Premiere

Yet another medical-mystery-forensics drama set in a large American city, Body of Proof establishes early that Megan has good reason to be crusty and arrogant.


Body of Proof

Airtime: Tuesdays, 10pm ET
Cast: Dana Delany, Jeri Ryan, John Carroll Lynch, Sonja Sohn, Nicholas Bishop, Geoffrey Arend, Windell Middlebrooks
Subtitle: Series Premiere
Network: ABC
Director: Nelson McCormick
Air date: 2011-03-29
Website
Trailer
Amazon
I just got off the phone with a male reporter who found her annoying. [Laughs] And I laughed because I said to him, “You know what, only men say that.” I never once had a female have that reaction to the character, and I find that very interesting because I think it’s gender-oriented.

-- Dana Delany

Megan Hunt (Dana Delany), medical examiner, arrives at a crime scene. She ducks under the black-and-yellow tape, and approaches the body, a young woman pulled out of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. The victim has suffered blunt force trauma to the back of her head and she's wearing shorts and a jogging bra. Megan wears a red raincoat.

As she leans over the corpse, two detectives show up, Bud (John Carroll Lynch) and Sam (Sonja Sohn). He sniffs, "I've heard all about Dr. Hunt. This must be our lucky day." She agrees with him, then lists her observations thus far, including the fact that the victim was killed on the other side of the river, because "she got some sun this morning." Bud remains skeptical: "You haven't caught the murderer yet?" Megan assures him she will, then adds, "Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about me. The truth is much worse."

And so Body of Proof begins. Yet another medical-mystery-forensics drama set in a large American city, it establishes early that Megan has good reason to be crusty and arrogant. An erstwhile "brilliant neurosurgeon," she's been working with the coroner's office for the past six months, where her boss (Jeri Ryan) informs her that she "had a lot of phone calls about you before I hired you." Yes,

She's resentful and feels guilty too: like pretty much every crusty and arrogant doctor-cop-lawyer in such shows, she's had a recent trauma. Hers is a condition her doctor calls "chronic and undiagnosable," the result of a car accident, itself the result, more or less directly, of her workaholic temperament (a flashback illustrates this decidedly tedious cause and effect). Since the accident, four years ago, she explains to nosy assistant Peter (Nic Bishop), she's lost her career (specifically, a patient died on the operating table and yes, she feels very, very bad about it) as well as her preteen daughter (her angry husband has sole custody).

Megan's mad about all this. She's also determined, as she puts it rather poetically, to discover how her cases have come to be. "The answers are all here because that's what we do," she says, standing over the jogger's corpse, laid out on an autopsy table. The camera pushes in slowly, as you notice her hair is hanging loose over a body she's supposed to keep as clean as possible. "I honor the body for what it tells me about Angela Swanson's life and how that life came to an end. The body is the proof. It will tell you everything you need to know, if you just have the patience to look."

Such lofty pronouncements tend to make their speakers sound silly, especially when they're supposed to be instructing crass counterparts (here, the detectives, saved from utter banality because they're played by the excellent Lynch and Sohn) or laying out rationales for potentially troubling behavior. Megan is compassionate, not only driven, and While the cops are sloggy cogs in a machine, Megan's speech delineates (or rather, gestures toward, in trivializing TV-speak) her utterly predictable nobler aspirations, her dedication to finding justice for voiceless victims.

The jogger (also a lawyer) merits Megan's special fierce attention -- and frames her much discussed emotional and professional dispositions -- because she's a little like her. That is, Megan discovers, the woman was driven and friendless, until she suffered an accident, and suddenly discovered her better self, caring for her parents and interested in the moral aspects of legal cases, rather than only how they might help her make partner. Megan needs some prodding from Peter to see the parallels, but Delany makes clear the depth of her anguish in the several scenes where her shine wet with not-quite-cried tears.

Megan notes the unfairness of the judgment passed on her ambition, complaining that her many hours at work make her a bad mom, while the same behavior on the part of her ex makes him a "good provider." Still, her path -- to become more nurturing and vulnerable and generous, like a good mom, is all too familiar. Like House, she has young acolytes and complimentary colleagues. Like the MEs in CSI, she works in pop-music montages, featuring close-ups of body parts and dissolves and slow pans to suggest long hours.

While it's soothing to imagine that MEs might have the time and energy for such dedication to single cases, and that science -- or even some measure of ingenuity and street smarts -- might solve cases within hours and days, the CSI effect is too often undercut by underfunding and overwork. Her boss worries that she's ordering too many expensive tests, but like everyone else, soon nods with approval: Megan's always right, eventually.

4

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.