by Earl Staggs
It happened again. I saw a new TV show advertised dealing with mystery, crime, and catching the bad guys. This one, “Body of Proof,” stars Dana Delany. I like her. She’s good-looking, charismatic, and a good actress.
So, I gave it a try.
Delany plays a Medical Examiner. Okay, we already have a few of them in books and on TV, but we also have a number of doctors, nurses, lawyers and cops, so one more can’t hurt. She comes to the job with personal baggage. She was a neurosurgeon, but for some medical reason, can’t do that anymore. She’s divorced, estranged from her teenage daughter, doesn’t have any friends, and most certainly does not have a man in her life. Okay, there’s plenty of backstory to work through and plenty of issues to deal with. She also comes to the job with an attitude. She’s going to do the job the way she feels it should be done, and no one is going to tell her otherwise. Anyone who tries had better be ready to do battle.
With all that going on, all the show needs is a decent plot each week. That’s where I was disappointed.
I’ve watched two weekly episodes so far, and both times, the plot was all about what was found under a microscope or at the end of a bodily fluid swab. That kind of crime-solving was interesting the first few thousand times, but with all the CSI type shows on the air now, it’s commonplace and less than exciting. The characters have little to do but talk to each other about their personal lives. And build sexual tension, of course. Will Castle and Beckett ever get it on? Will Bones and Booth finally admit their feelings for each other and hit the sheets?
On this week’s episode of “Body of Proof,” it all came down to the fatal bullet. In the lab, they found a trace of skin on it from someone other than the principal victim. Conclusion: the bullet grazed someone else in the room on its way to its intended target. Aha! There was an eyewitness to the shooting. They also found traces of pigeon poop. Really. Conclusion: the shooter fired from outside the room and the bullet went through a window screen on which a pigeon had left its droppings. There’s more. They found infant drool on the victim’s clothes, clear evidence she held a baby shortly before being shot. All that evidence, all discovered in the lab, revealed the killer.
Okay, all that is uberscience and superforensics and led to the solution of a murder.
But I miss the days when a cop or a PI had to prowl the mean streets to solve a crime. He had to throw a snitch against the wall, duke it out with a gunsel in the alley, kick in a few doors or romance a beautiful blonde with long legs. Instead of a microscope, he relied on his fists and the cold, hard steel of a .45. That was a lot more fun than watching squints pull evidence from a tiny spot of blood or find a suspect in a data bank with a few strokes of flying fingers on a keyboard.
Okay, I admit it. I’m a dinosaur, an old fuddy-duddy, if you will. I prefer my heroes wearing suits and ties instead of tee-shirts and jeans. I’d rather see him punch a goon’s jaw, not computer keys.
Maybe for me, someone should bring back a Philip Marlowe or a Mike Hammer in their own time. Maybe I should get over my old-fashioned preferences and step into the 21st century. I have in many ways. I carry a cell phone, I do emails. I even have a Facebook page, although I’m not sure why.
But when it comes to what I read and watch, I think I’ll always cling to a love for the good old days of crime investigation.