“Body of Proof” stars Dana Delaney as Dr. Megan Hunt, an unconventional Medical Examiner whose methods, while unorthodox and often criticized, always get the job done.
Executive Producer Matthew Gross recently spoke with me about all of the changes both onscreen and behind-the-scenes at “Body of Proof.”
“We have new editors, a new composer, we’ve changed the cinematography a little bit, we have some new writers and new directors, and a new casting director,” Gross explains. “We’ve really made a lot of changes, but we haven’t changed the underlying dynamics that make the show what it is.”
In the final episode of season two, Dr. Hunt was held hostage by a serial killer and escaped only after Medical Investigator Peter Dunlop came to her aide. During the rescue, Dunlop was stabbed and viewer’s last images were of Hunt clinging to Dunlop, telling him to hang on.
Left with the question, ‘will he or won’t he survive,’ the cliffhanger was unfortunately resolved not on screen but when reports came out that the actor who portrayed Dunlop would not be returning to the series.
This left the creative team behind the show with several challenges. But, not to be deterred, the powers-that-be decided to take advantage of the opportunity to revamp a few things.
Gross says, “Moving forward we wanted to create different relationships with Megan, we wanted to add a romantic element to the show. And, ultimately in creating this dynamic we realized that we wanted a person that Megan would have had a past with. And by making, this new character a cop, we figured we could lean into the police procedural aspect of the show a little more."
This change means the addition of actor Mark Valley ("Boston Legal") as Detective Tommy Sullivan.
Once decisions about new characters were in place, then the work of crafting the stories that will drive the season began.
“In Season 3 we have these big stories,” reveals Gross. “In the season opener we investigate into a terrorism plot. We'll also have an exorcism, we have zombies, we have a plane crash and a blackout, and we have a sort of 'Girl, Interrupted' plot set in a mental institution. These are high octane stories. All are big ideas and there's not just one murder or causality, but potentially more of, 'if we don't stop it from happening, other people are going to die.' There is definitely a ticking clock in all of these situations.”
Within the storytelling, the show lends itself to some pretty gory scenarios. In last season’s finale, Dr. Hunt sawed open a skull to reveal that the murder victim on her table was missing a brain. When asked about the ‘gore factor’ this season, Gross had this to say; “Well, it will be a bit higher this season. There’s an episode where people are being killed to sell body parts and we’re showing it all. And, let me tell you, our makeup and effects department do an amazing job with the victims and with every aspect of the coroner’s office.”
And he should know what the coroner’s office really looks like, explaining, “In preparing for season three, I went to the Los Angeles county coroner’s office. There were 256 bodies in there and I distinctly remember thinking, ‘every one of these people has a story. What’s their story?”
Back in the fictional coroner’s office, Dr. Hunt is often at odds with her co-worker, Kate Murphy, played by Jeri Ryan. This season, the relationship between the two women will certain have its ups and downs. “Kate is going to embark on a political journey so those aspirations may affect her job with the coroner’s office,” reveals Gross. He elaborates saying, “Megan and Kate are going to bump heads but it’s going to come from a place of ‘what’s best for the office’. There’s a level of respect between them, but they definitely have varying opinions on certain issues and cases. The both have a very distinct point of view and neither one is truly wrong,” he pauses, then adds, “That’s not true, sometimes one of them will be wrong.”
Megan will have another woman to content with again this season as Joanna Cassidy returns as Megan’s mother, Joan. Gross clarifies the mother/daughter dynamic, saying, “The two will continue to clash over their past with Megan wanting to investigate the suicide of her father and Joan not wanting to because it’s too painful for her. Joan has tried to bury her past along with her husband and many of Megan’s issues sort of result from the fact that she never really had the opportunity to talk with her mom about it because her mom didn’t want to talk about something so painful.”
Along with Cassidy, Season three will see a host of other guest stars, including Jonathan Banks (“Breaking Bad”) and Henry Ian Cusick (“Lost”). Luke Perry will reprise his role from season two as Officer Charlie Stafford from the Centers for Disease Control.
With all the changes, is anything going to be the same this season on “Body of Proof”?
Gross assures that, “People who loved the show before are going to love it even more and hopefully with the changes that we’ve made we’ll attract an even larger audience. This really is an exciting show and I challenge you to open watch the opening premiere and not want to watch the second episode. Many hours are big stories are almost movies in and of themselves. I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done.”
"Body of Proof" airs on ABC Tuesdays at 10e/p.
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