Scott D. Parker
I've caught the first three episodes of this new series and its growing on me. I wrote a little blurb last week, but I think I'll expand my thoughts today.
Dana Delany is good. I know her only tangentially, having never watched her in "Desperate Housewives" or whatever else she's been in. I did, however, catch her in my favorite show, "Castle," last season. She played an FBI agent on the hunt for a serial killer. She was excellent and, in retrospect, that part might've been the impetus for this role.
Delany's Dr. Megan Hunt is a neurosurgeon who had a bad car accident and lost her edge primarily to her shaking hands. Unable to perform the job for which she was trained and had a passion, she ends up as a medical examiner in Philadelphia. Along the way, as so often happens in TV shows, she gets divorced from her husband and is estranged from her daughter. She makes a great point to her partner, Peter Dunlap. When talking about her divorce she says "A man works 18-hour days and he's considered a provider. A woman works 18-hour days and she's a negligent mother."
The supporting case is, to be honest, cut from basic casting. Her partner, Peter, is a sensitive hunk who asks Megan the hard questions so that we viewers can learn how she thinks. Her boss, played by Jeri Ryan, is the good supervisor, trying to keep the wolves away from Megan and always having Megan's back. The two other doctors in the ME's office are a modern day Laurel and Hardy: young skinny one and older fat one who likes to remind Megan that he outranks her.
Into this mix we have the cops. Like countless detectives before her (Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Adrian Monk, to name three), Megan is blessed with obtuse, slow police officials. In a surprise, Sonja Sohn, best know for her work on "The Wire," is one of the cops. She's street tough, though not as harsh as her "Wire" role.
The surprise has been John Carroll Lynch's Detective Bud Morris. He's the lead detective that wants to close the case quickly. He sees the given evidence, asks few, if any questions, and just wants to move on to the next case. Naturally, he and Megan are oil and water. But as the first three episodes have aired, these two have found a grudging respect for each other. Gradually, he has seen the way Megan works--curt, to be sure, and, like Holmes, light years ahead of everyone else--and, though he doesn't like her meddling in a case he considers open and shut, comes to realize that her methods end up nailing the correct culprit. That his character is having marital troubles gives the two some common ground.
Where Delany shines is in the small moments. She and her daughter struggle with their rocky relationship, trying to figure out where to go and how to get there. So far, it's been pretty typical network TV stuff, but there is room to grow. Both characters want the relationship, but there's a wall between them, likely a result of both Megan's former profession and her former husband.
Episode three had a nice moment between Megan and Bud as well. She's been trying to "get friends" and open up to her co-workers. That she's doing this years into this new job is a bit far-fetched, but it still makes for humorous TV moments. It also opened up Bud and Megan to some deeper understanding of each. It was very nice.
The mysteries are good, not extraordinary, but clever and make use of Megan's medical expertise. Seeing an ME interviewing witnesses and victims is a little odd, but that's what the show is about so I roll with. It's a good show, one with room to grow, and I'm hoping that ABC will give it a chance next year.
So, am I the only one watching this show? What do you think?
Albums of the Week (tie): new material from Paul Simon and Robbie Robertson, both at NPR Music. Both wonderful records from older artists who still have something to say.