If you have watched ABC for more than five minutes over the past few months, you’ve seen a dozen promos for Dana Delany’s new show “Body of Proof.” By now, you have probably perfected your imitation of her saying, “Okey dokey.”
The show about a medical examiner who can’t resist solving crimes herself finally premieres Tuesday. Delany explained to xfinityTV.com why her character Megan Hunt deserves all the hype, and why “Body of Proof” is different from all the other crime shows on television.
Who is Megan Hunt?
Delany: Megan Hunt is a former neurosurgeon who was driven by success, driven by power and kind of lost it all. She lost her marriage, lost custody of her child, and then had the car accident where she loses her job also because she can’t operate anymore. I see her as a person in transition who’s realizing how much she lost and how much she needs to redeem herself. So she’s now in the process of redemption.
It’s rare to see a mother who is not raising her child on television. How is Megan going to reconnect with her daughter?
Delany: What I liked about the show is it’s not all warm and fuzzy about mother and daughter. There’s not going to be a hug at the end of the episode. I like that the daughter’s tough on her and really makes her have to prove herself. She’s not going to just fall into her arms. Also, we bring in Joanna Cassidy who’s playing my mother and you get a chance to see where Megan came from and why she is the way she is. Joanna plays a judge which is perfect, I think, metaphorically. She was also driven by her job. So Megan didn’t learn how to be a nurturer. She doesn’t know how to be a mother because she didn’t really have a mother. It’s three generations of strong women butting heads and learning from each other.
Watch a Sneak Peek of “Body of Proof” Now:
Megan’s handsome co-worker Peter seems very interested in helping her deal with her personal problems. Are they headed for romance?
Delany: I see Peter Dunlap (Nicholas Bishop) as more of her conscience. He reminds her that she needs to soften and be a human being. He kind of guides her that way. At first when people asked me about that I thought, “Why can’t they just be partners?” My best friend in life is a man and people are constantly saying, “Why did you guys ever go out?” I said, “Because it would ruin the friendship.” I thought maybe we could just be compatriots. But people like that kind of sexual tension, so maybe it’s a possibility.
What cases will Megan tackle in upcoming episodes?
Delany: One of the things I like about the writing it it’s not always expected how the person died. You might not like who you find out is the killer. It’s not black or white. There’s a lot of gray areas there. Some cases are just sad, not violent, just sad. One I liked in particular is when there were different body parts that we found all over the city that we had to put together. We have one that’s a missing child, so we have a live person. The nanny gets killed and we have to find the child who has been kidnapped.
What makes Megan so relentless? Why does she feel compelled to overstep the boundaries of her job and start questioning suspects?
Delany: It took me a few episodes to figure that out. I think it’s because when you’re the smartest person in the room, that can be hard. Because you have a certain impatience. Also, she’s coming at the job from a different place than the cops are. It’s not they aren’t good at their jobs, but she’s coming from a science place. She’s a neurosurgeon. Your typical coroner probably wouldn’t come from that place. I think she’s deeply shy underneath it all. She doesn’t really know how to behave with people. So she gets impatient because she doesn’t want to admit she doesn’t know how to behave.
This show is going to get compared a lot to both the 70s series about a coroner, “Quincy,” and “House,” because of Megan’s difficult personality. Do you think the comparisons are accurate?
Delany: Who doesn’t like Jack Klugman? I think that was sort of the beta version of the show, which was very successful by the way. I wouldn’t mock that comparison. In terms of “House”, he’s got the cane and the drug problem. I think Megan’s issue is not so much physical as psychic. She’s in a lot of psychic pain that she has to work through.
What separates “Body of Proof” from all of the other procedurals on television?
Delany: There’s a lot more character involved. Yes, we do have a mystery every week but I think there’s a real richness and depth of character and also humor.
Did you observe autopsies to prepare for this role?
Delany: I watched four different autopsies and it was fascinating. I felt honored that I got to be part of the secret club. It really makes you have reverence for the human body and what you’re given as a gift.
Has anything ever gone wrong while you’re filming one of the autopsy scenes?
Delany: The hardest thing is we’re not cutting into dead bodies. They’re live people. The people have to pretend that they’re dead. It’s not easy. We’re poking them and prodding them. They have to keep their eyes still. That’s the most humorous part, to pretend that they’re dead. [We use real people] because we shoot a lot of their back story.
Are you flattered that ABC has been constantly promoting your show for the past three months?
Delany: It was a little overwhelming for me, to be honest. I like just being part of the scenery and doing my job, because you get all the attention, but you get all the blame at the same time. But I like the show. I feel like I did my best. I think it’s great that we got held off because we got a better time slot. We were able to promote it properly and not get lost in the fall rush. Also, we oddly already premiered in Europe and are doing very well over there. So that was a nice vote of confidence.